Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Blackberry Passport: Work wide with a tool, not a toy.

Manager Carol Lanford & Rep Rian Tieuel
It was time to get a new phone so instead of following the rest of the sheep who purchase either the Istamp or Samdung, I took the plunge and got the Blackberry Passport.  The phone is simply put, a beast.  The phone is literally the size and shape of a passport.  Working wide is the Passport's theme.  It even runs Android apps.  Here are some observations about the phone.  There is no pretense at neutrality in this post. 

1. The service at the AT&T store on Pear Orchard Road was outstanding.  Sales rep Rian Tieul (Pronounced "Ryan") was very helpful when I visited the store.  He even installed the screen protector for me.  He called the next day to see if I had any problems with my new phone.  I know the hot chicks that are usually hired are nice to look at but this guy provided service.   His number is 601-497-7244.  It is better to text him than use his voice mail. He will respond and yes, you can make appointments with him.  He said if the Passport is not in stock, he can order the phone for you. 

2. Specs. This is the best Blackberry ever made. The OS is very fast, very fluid. 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage. Battery is 3450 mAh but non removable. It will accept a media card that is up to 128 GB.  Gone are the days of the spinning hour glass or battery pulls.  This thing flies.  The chip is a 2.2GHz Quad-Core cpu.  The phone uses Slimport technology.  Huh? That means you can use a Slimport adapter and plug an HDMI cable into the phone. Watch your netflix on tv or put documents up on a big screen with HDMI. Very nice feature.

3.  The display is very good. It is very crisp and clear. 1440 x 1440. You can actually see the display if outdoors in the sunlight. Very little fading.  The screen is 4.5" diagonal and 1:1 aspect ratio.   YES THE SCREEN IS A TOUCH SCREEN PHONE.

There is no home button.  Navigation is all swipes and gestures. Swipe down from the top for settings and other featuers. Swipe to the right to get to the Hub.  Swipe right to get out of a message and back into the Hub (see below). 

The screen is 60 characters wide. I read alot of pdfs and word docs during the day. I've gotten tired of pinching & zooming and twistin' & turnin' and landscaping & portraiting. Its nice just to be able to open up a doc and read it.  The Passport way is a more natural way to read, period.  Reading docs is much easier on the Passport. 

4. Blackberries are known for the physical keyboards and the Passport is no different.   I tried to use a touch screen keyboard for a year and went back to a physical one a year ago.  I just plain prefer typing to tapping.  The keyboard is a little wider than the typical Blackberry keyboard  and takes a few days to get used to but I am definitely typing faster than on day 2.   My fingers now fly on the keyboard and it took only a week to get to that point. 

 You can also still set up the speed dial keys. Personal tick of mine. I like the ability to just press a number and the phone immediately calls someone  You can also set up the keys to help navigate on the phone.  Thus you can set "T" to take you to the top of your text messages or "B" to take you to the bottom of a list such as contacts.

One new feature to the keyboard is scrolling.  The keyboard can act as a cursor. Your fingers glide over the keys and the screen scrolls up and down.  This feature can be turned off in settings.

5. The Hub is still the Hub.  The Hub allows you to get all of your texts, emails, voicemails, tweets, Facebook messages, phone calls, Whatsapp  messages, BBM messages, and even Instagram notifications all one one screen.  The Hub can be customized as well.  You may not want all of your phone calls and FB notifications appearing in the HUB so voila, they can be removed from the Hub.  The Hub allows you to reply to messages while in the Hub, something that other phones won't let you do.  It streamlines how to respond to emails, texts, and other messages without opening other apps.  It even sends message notifications across the top of the screen when they arrive while you are in another app and allows you to reply without leaving that app.

ONE nice thing about the text and emails IS you CAN add multiple attachments to the message.  You can add five pics to an email or 4 pdf documents, for example.  Blackberry's strongest suit has always been emails and messaging. Its legacy continues in this vein.  Its very convenient for work or if you want your phone to be  a tool, not a toy.

6. LED notification lights  can be set to different colors for different types of messages or contacts. Assign purple to Coach Miles and when you miss his text, you will know its him from the purple flashing light.

7. The speakers are very good. You won't listen to your music on speakers alone as they are not up to the level of say, beats by Dre, but I just listened to talk radio for an hour and the sound quality was nice.

8.  If you get the phone, download the Crackberry app. Great site for questions and help. Just ask question in forums and members will quickly help you. If you have the app, open home screen, swipe left, choose forums, Then select blackberry 10 Hub, then Passport. Ask away. Great resource and the members are more than willing to help.

9.  The size of the phone. Its a large phone. Literally the size of a passport. It WILL fit into your pockets. Shorts, jeans, gym shorts, dress pants, I've tried them all. It fits fine. The bodyglove cover does come with a holster. However, it is not something that is easily used with one hand while driving, which you shouldn't be doing anyway.

10. Apps. Phones are about apps and Blackberry has had a bad reputation for apps.   The Passport can run Android apps.   Here are the apps available on my phone.

a. Blackberry World is the Blackberry app store.  Its limited in its offering but the Amazon Appstore that comes installed on the phone allows you to purchase Android apps.  The BB World apps I have on my phone are: Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Slacker (music), Igrann Pro (Instagram client), BBM, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Startracker, and Skyscanner, Dropbrox, The Box, Bloomberg, and Evernote.  The paid apps are: BeMaps Pro (works off Goofle), Effectica (nice photo editor), Camera ++ (Photo app), BeWeather, CIA World Factbook,.  Linkedin is offered as well but I removed it.

b. Amazon Appstore Android Apps.  Here are the apps I use from this source: Pandora, Iheartradio, Tunein Radio Pro, Kindle, Washington Post, NPR, Drudge Report, The Hill,  Scanner 5-0, Pac-Man,  and yes, Angry Birds.  Popular apps such as Pinterest and Spotify are available on Amazon Appstore as well.  Looking at this list, does it seem I can't get any apps?

c. I also downloaded through the Snap app (email me to learn how to sideload it) Netflix, Nascar, and Photobucket.  The one app that seems hard to get is Snapchat.  Many other Android apps, however, are available through Snap. 

11. The browser is really good. One underrated item about the BB phones has been the browser. Probably the best one among smart phones. Browser is so good that sometimes you don't really need the app. You can bookmark the website to the home screen of the Passport where it appears as an app. Did this with Fandango as it has a real good mobile site. The Wall Street Journal mobile site appears even better than the app does.

12.  Where to get a Passport? AT&T is the only US carrier to sell the Passport. However, you can purchase the Passport at Amazon or  The AT&T version has rounded corners (the company made BB change the shape to rounded corners).  It is $199 on a two-year contract and $650 off-contract at ATT. HOWEVER, the Amazon price is $519 for a brand new phone and the used ones start at $376.  There are red and white versions on Amazon as well.  It is $549 on

The phones purchased at Amazon or Blackberry are unlocked. That means you will get the updates MUCH quicker than you will from AT&T.  AT&T is notorious for releasing updates at a slug's pace.

13.  Blackberry is offering insurance that is much better than that offered by AT&T.  I was able to buy a protection plan that covered all damage for $4.50 a month and a deductible of only $129.  It is available  at  Blackberry care protection plan.  You can terminate the plan at any time.

14. Blend. New feature.  Connect the phone to your ipad or laptop.  You can read all of your text messages and other phone features on your computer. You can also respond to them and perform any other action that you could on your phone.  Security nuts will love this featuer: When you disconnect the phone, everything disappears from the computer so your texts, for example, will not remain on your computer.

15. BUY THE CASE.  Body Glove makes a combo case and holster that is sold at AT&T stores.  Seido makes one as well.  Keep in mind that AT&T has a different shape so when ordering cases, make sure you are ordering the right case.  AT&Y only has Seido and Body Glove. All others are for the regular Passport purchased at Amazon and Shopblackberry.   Get a screen protector as well.  AT&T sells them with the phone.  Its the best investment one can make on this phone.

16.  Blackberry Assistant.  BB's answer to Siri.  Ask it if the Iphone is better than the Passport. It will actually answer the question.

17. AT&T versioon has wireless charging. Bedside mode is nice. The phone will ring when in bedside mode but message notifications are silent. It can be customized. 

18. One last, little trick.  The phone can act as a straight FM radio. Open the music player, select radio, and you can listen to Gallo all morning via radio waves.  Just make sure your headphones are plugged in because it acts as the antenna. 

Note: If you purchase one, feel free to email me at if you have any questions.  


Anonymous said...

You forgot to include "This post is a paid advertisement"

Juan said...

Do you know if Verizon Wireless will be offering this any time soon?
I'm very tired of the iphone and Apple's planned obsolescence of their products.

Kingfish said...

Just like an Apple bully. I like the phone and want to see it do well. Get over it and get lost.

Anonymous said...

There have been many endorsements of this phone by the guy who writes The Market Ticker (link on the JJ page) and many if his readers. Thanks for the local contact info.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure ATT offers a free home rotary phone for every Blackberry purchase.

Kingfish said...

Verizon doesn't carry it. Verizon requires it's own special band. ATT has exclusive but the unlocked ones work fine on tmobile. CDMA is a different story.

Anonymous said...

@2:50 PM, I can't find the link to your blog. Would you post it again?

Anonymous said...

Blackberry's time has come and gone. While upper mgt. dicked around for years on a market they had cornered at one time the rest of the world caught up. I don't care if they have a phone that spits out rainbow unicorns they have lost this generation forever. Good last gasp though!

Kingfish said...

Several things hurt them.

1. Old OS was java based. They were on top and took two years too long to create a new OS. They flunked execution repeatedly. Another case of a company scared to move forward or enjoy the cash cow too long. Just like B&N could've had the Fire before Amazon did with the Nook as it already ran Android.

2. The new CEO is doing great. Company is actually turning a profit. He's breaking glass and doing everything he can. Changed the culture, ran off the dead heads.

3. The new OS came out half baked and it wasn't til a year later that it was finally perfected. This was again due to failure to execute and missing deadlines.

4. Old team really ticked off the carriers. Were very arrogant and now they aren't anxious to help BB out unless they can bring something to the table that the Carriers need.

Anonymous said...

Anybody who is a longtime reader of JJ knows that KF has followed Blackberry and used their products for quite a while now. If you don't care for his latest update then move on and read something else.

Anonymous said...

Ron Popeil would have been proud.

Won't Be Published said...

So, Kingfish is showing his ass, pretending to be an expert on band-width, cable dimension structure, expansion loop technology, split-difference projection and cell-tower weight capacity. Perhaps he should stick to contests to choose the best boobs among newscasters.

Anonymous said...

What's a blackberry?

Anonymous said...

I believe that this is a thoughtful, helpful and fair review of the AT&T Blackberry Passport which I also purchased at the same AT&T store about three weeks ago. As a two year user of the BB z10 and a ten year user overall of various bb phones, the improved 10.3.1 operating system is very fast and responsive and I also very much enjoy the keyboard instead of the touch screen only key board of the z10. As mentioned in KF’s article, BB is not dead and is focusing on business and enterprise users. I recommend trying the Passport out before bringing unfounded skepticism and negative bias to this blog. I was a meeting earlier this week in Atlanta and my colleagues marveled at my Passport and all wanted to try it. Thanks for the review KF.

Kingfish said...

I forgot to sat the unlocked ones work on AT&T as well.

Anonymous said...

So, Kingfish is showing his ass ...

Big difference between that and your showing that you are an ass.

Anonymous said...

Kingfish: I purchased the phone as mentioned previously in your blog from AT&T Pear Orchard outright with the intention to get an unlock code from AT&T Customer Service. My thought here was to unlock the phone thereby being able to receive OS updates directly from Blackberry when issued. AT&T does not provide timely OS updates. Do you know if the unlocked AT&T Blackberry phone will be able to receive OS updates directly from Blackberry? Thanks KF.

Anonymous said...

what about on Cspire?

Kingfish said...

Nope. Has to be purchased from BB or Amazon and be shipped to you unlocked. Unlocking after getting from AT&T won't speed up the updates. Use Sachesi method or autoloader. They both work fine.

Kingfish said...

Cspire doesn't have the LTE bands ( I think they are 12 and 25) and its CDMA.

Anonymous said...

Kingfish: Thanks for your take on the inability of AT&T unlocked phones to receive OS updates directly from blackberry. Hopefully AT&T will send out an OS update soon to overcome the "flicker" (not a major deal to me as has only happened a couple of times in three weeks) issue which according to Crackberry will solve the problem.

Anonymous said...

7:20 I found this second opinion, confirming what I had read previously in a tech blog, to be very helpful, especially the added local info.

Who pissed in your Cheerios this morning?

Kingfish said...

When it does it, do a hard reset. That means hold volume keys down until BB logo appears. takes 45 seconds to appear. Made mine go away after a few times. The updates fixed the problem as well. You can also use Sachesi to install Snap.

Anonymous said...

Being in agreement with Karl is a good thing Fish

Anonymous said...

I think there are some other factors that led to the demise of Blackberry. Ultimately, it lost the battle of the corporate world.

Blackberry relied on BES for Exchange integration in the old days. ActiveSync got a lot better and people started trying Windows Mobile phones using ActiveSync for Exchange connectivity. Around that time, Apple released the iPhone that most people thought it would be for consumer use only. Around iOS 3, Apple had pretty good ActiveSync support and negated the use of something like BES. Android started getting popular around the same time as well, but had pretty lousy ActiveSync support until 4.0.

As iOS matured, MDM (mobile device management) started to take off. Now, you could easily configure an iOS configuration profile with your MDM provider seemly provision iOS devices over the air. This further negated the need for BES and continued the corporate adoption of iOS.

This was occurring during the same time iPhones became very hip. Executives wanted these phones instead of Blackberry's. Execs and other employees that were initially hesitant because they had only used resistive touch screens. The capacitive touch screen of the iPhone was far superior to resistive tech and negated the need for a physical keyboard.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that BB Passport allows direct install from the Amazon App Store. Amazon uses a modified version of Android and doesn't allow direct loading of Android apps. Is BB using the Amazon OS or something similar?

BTW, the comment of the first poster doesn't necessarily make him/her an Apple bully. He/she could be an Android partisan.

Kingfish said...

Nope. BB has its own OS, BB10. It has an Android runtime player. Pretty much a separate sandbox that keeps the rest of the OS safe from Android.

Kingfish said...

10.3.2 update is out. Big improvements and bugs are fixed.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

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There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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