BlackBerry says the Passport ‘reinvents the mobile keyboard’

Ian Hardy

July 11, 2014 10:43am

BlackBerry is giving a bit more insight into the new touch-enabled keyboard on the upcoming BlackBerry Passport. The company already revealed a few tips and tricks for how users can benefit the most from using the physical and ‘contextual virtual keys.’

Michael Clewley, Director of Software Product Management at BlackBerry, took to the company blog engaged readers about the Passport’s keyboard, specifically how the square-shaped device “reinvents the mobile keyboard.”

The physical design of the keyboard is iconic to BlackBerry and something the company is proud of, especially now with its core enterprise focus. This is one of the main reasons the Bold 9900 is back in the lineup and why it is launching the Passport and Classic. With the Passport, Clewley notes BlackBerry “set out to create a smartphone that would break some cherished rules in order to set a new bar for real productivity.”

The physical keys are responsive to touch (tactile typing) and gives a feeling of a touchscreen-only device. To use the 3-row “touch-enabled keyboard” you’ll lightly brush your fingers over the keys and, like other Berry devices, comes with several custom commands (listed below). Apparently having the option to switch between physical or the touch-sensitive keys will allow BlackBerry users to be more productive — such as reading documents, surfing the web, reading emails and using various apps.

  • Faster scrolling: As noted above, you can use the keyboard to swipe up and down to scroll on long lists in a document or on a browser page, keeping your fingers off the screen and focused on what’s happening.
  • More intuitive cursor control and text selection: This is a classic BlackBerry productivity enhancement reinvented for the Passport. Double-tap the keyboard, then drag your finger across the keyboard to drop the cursor at precisely the right point. Or select the text just as you would on an older BlackBerry: hold the SHIFT key while dragging your finger across the keyboard to extend a selection.
  • Smart, contextual virtual keys: The Passport’s QWERTY 3-row keyboard creates a clean-looking, right-sized layout. There is also a virtual 4th row on-screen that smartly shifts depending on context. So if you’re typing a password on-screen, the 4th row would automatically include numbers and symbols commonly used in passwords. If you’re typing an e-mail, the ‘@’ symbol will be displayed, and when surfing the Web, the colon and backslash characters needed to type in a URL will be displayed. Like I said, smart! With a little practice, most Passport users should find themselves typing faster than ever before.
  • Flick to type: Stuck on a word? BlackBerry 10’s next word suggestion feature learns from you to give you smart, personalized choice of words you’re likely to type. You then just flick up to complete the word.
  • Easier delete: Made a mistake? No problem, just swipe back (left) to Delete the last word, just like on our virtual keyboard!
  • Entering an accented character? Hold the letter key down, and then lightly tap on the key to add the appropriate accent!

The launch date and price is still unknown, but BlackBerry is expecting the 4.5-inch Passport to be available sometime in September.

Source: BlackBerry

  • Acer12345

    Hey man, there is nothing wrong with Brick Breaker.

    • Jakob

      This.

    • BB BB

      This will actually be awesome for brick breaker hopefully they make it

    • soriss

      This phone looks like a poptart

  • barrist

    I’m a bit nostalgic for physical QWERTY keyboards, but this doesn’t look ergonomic to type on at all. I guess the gestures help a bit.

    • Sequoia46.2

      The keyboard is too low, it looks really hard to type on.

  • Dimitri

    You mean Apple where they lock you into whatever they want? You mean Apple where your holding the device wrong? You mean Apple where the icons of IOS 7 look like kids did it? You mean Apple that doesnt use USB? You mean Apple how they don’t even let you customize the OS? ( aka themes & such unless you jailbreak it). You mean Apple how they shipped the iPhone 5 with chips, dents & damage on them? You mean Apple that tells its customers that they invented everything which they never did? You mean Apple the company that trolls other companies & sues them for nothing? ( Not talking about Samsung only). you mean Apple on how many are complaining that they are having some tough time using the phone even to some people say its easy? I can keep going but i won’t.

    ( All the above can be proven via search on Google, 9to5mac & other tech sites.). All OS’s have issue including Blackberry.. Not one is perfect. Not even Apple. Get over it.

    • Rio

      Yet they are the single best selling phone. All those stupid people on this planet eh?

    • Dimitri

      Yea When some people buying the iPhone & then reselling it. That shouldn’t even count to be honest. I do give it that Apple sells more devices then most manufactures but they are slowly losing their faith. Why? read above & see. I don’t write things without knowing or searching.

      Yea some may find the iPhone to be easy to use but when people complain more then you think. Example on their forums which many fail to even read to know.

    • Rio

      At the end of the day someone is buying that iPhone though, except it is going through a middle man.

      I dont disagree, the iPhone has it’s fare share of problems as with every other device on the market. No doubt everything you wrote is true to some extent, but I could easily find a list just as long if not longer about every other device on the market.

    • Dimitri

      That is WHY i wrote “All OS’s have issue including Blackberry.. Not one is perfect.”

    • Rio

      Fair enough! Just a mis understanding then :P

    • Ntario

      This is a truly stupid comment… Justin Bieber has had 5 number one albums not to mention millions upon millions twitter and Facebook followers. Does this make him one of the best artist of our era? I don’t think so. Just because something appeals to the masses, doesn’t make it the best.

    • marorun1982

      Yeah we have lots of Marketing Zombies :)

    • Dimitri

      Unfortunately trolls and people that think they know everything / act all tough and know it all don’t understand jack really. So i wouldn’t even bother.

    • Jakob

      Well if you read your original comment you seem to have quite a bit of personal bias and angst towards the iPhone. You also seem to be forgetting that the notion of ‘best’ is something that is relative. Maybe some people think a flat, not-very-customizable OS is the best… for them. Others may think the best is the opposite. At the end of the day its the numbers that speak the loudest, not some guy on an internet forum screaming foul and saying no one knows jack.

    • Rio

      We comparing music to phones now?

      What else do you suggest we judge it by then?

      At the end of the day, there is no #1 phone, there is a phone that is the best for you and a different phone that is the best for me. I have different needs and taste from you and hence one phone will fit me better than the other.

    • Ntario

      you are correct sir, however if you don’t try something how would you know if it meets your needs?

    • Rio

      I have tried both the HTC One and Galaxy S3. While they are both great phones. they are not for me.

      When it comes to phone, I prefer the closed environment Apple provides and most of the features I need are there. I found the One & S3 to be to convoluted for my liking. I prefer the simple layout of the iPhone and the customer service with regards to defects or other repairs needed.

      One of the only features that was available on Android through an App, that I really wanted is now coming in iOS8. That has Further pushed me away from Android! That is the ability to take calls/messages from my laptop while at my desk.

    • Ntario

      Great, you have tried 2 Android phones and are able to determine they are not for you. Good start, but you are commenting on a BB10 phone here, not android. Perhaps you need to try it. I know crazy idea, try first comment later.

    • Rio

      Fair enough, Ill continue to BB. With BB, I have only ever tried the old 9900 and the z10. I got to try the Q10 but never had the opportunity to use it daily.

      I am not a physical keyboard person and couldnt for the life of me get used to it. My fingers are too big and back then the auto correct wasnt much use. With touchscreens you can type away not worrying about the precise point and 90% of the time it will get corrected. Even with the Q10 I was not able to get used to it, it is hard to move away from a touch screen.

      The z10 was more of a phone I could see my self using. But the lack of inital apps felt short. I use a minimum of 10apps daily, when introduced to the z10, hardly 3-4 of them were available and useable.

      I worked for Bell a short period of time and got to try a number of phones and see many more.

      The same with this phone, I most definitely doubt I would enjoy the keyboard. Although I like the idea they have put together with the hybrid keyboard. With aspect to screen, I dont see where the hype is but maybe upon using it my stance on it will change

    • Adderbox76

      “All those stupid people”

      Well…yes…actually.

      Samsung and Apple combined represent roughly 90% of smartphone sales. 90%! Everyone else is pretty much fighting for a piece of the last 10%.

      Samsung and Apple also account for about 85% of the total marketing dollars between them.

      It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the correlation.

      People are i****s…or more specifically…people in general are drooling, mindless, trend pimp consumers. They don’t buy the best product. They buy what the TV and the internet TELLS them to buy. Whatever company spends the most money leveraging that, is the company that wins.

    • Rio

      lol

    • J-Ro

      No surprise there. Facebook was caught experimenting on people (no surprise there either) and the world didn’t skip a beat. It is hard to care for anything but spending when you live in the worlds shopping mall (North America)

    • Specimen Yarp

      There are lots of 13 year old girls on the planet.

    • BB BB

      Yeah apple and android loaded with backdoor for government surveillance. UK government now pushing policy to tap into all phones and email

    • soriss

      Failed argument. Despite all your claims, apple still outsells BlackBerry lol

    • Dimitri

      Not a fail agreement at all. ISheeps as many call them by iPhones because they believe anything Apple says. Apple claims they the best in the world and those people have no brain and believe them. Also some people buy the iPhone either in bulk or one and resell it for cheaper at times.

    • J-Ro

      Selling only shows the lemming effect. Who cares who outsells who. This isn’t Wall Street. This is MS.

    • Specimen Yarp

      you’re vs your. Basic English.

      And Apple is against net neutrality. That itself is enough of a reason to never buy from Apple.

  • monsterduc1000

    They sure reinvented ugly with that phone…

  • MatroXX

    Don’t waste your time with pomplamoose the apple troll.

  • Steve Wight

    The passport also redefines ugly.

    • Wizzy

      It’s funny that BB fans find it necessary to reply to anybody that doesn’t like the BB. Thanks for your opinion, too, Pavel. Everybody really cares!

    • lemonnnnz

      It’s funny that people find it necessary to post their negative comments. Everybody really cares!

      Oh no wait, no one does and it just makes you look petty. Especially if someone has said EXACTLY what you did . (Looking at you Steve & monsterduc).

  • dman89

    This looks perfect for someone with big hands like me. Can’t wait for this to be released!

    • beyond

      the world is searching for you, where are you hiding???

    • beyond

      the world is searching for you, where are you hiding???

    • Darren

      Big hands, this is the one. Apologies to the Violent Femmes.

  • Yeria

    I must say this device is pretty innovative. I can imagine real practical use cases of touch enabled physical keyboard, especially when they mentioned selecting text and such. If it was Apple announcing something like this, it would say how it changes typing on phones and how everyone else is doing it “wrong”.

    Anyhow… I just wish this came out 2 or 3 years earlier, when there were still enough people who cared about having a physical keyboard. Now everyone I know is just content with touch screen keyboard and can live with it. Even myself.. I used to love physical keyboard – and I still do – but it is no longer essential…

    Oh, and the phone is ugly too..

    • Stalemate

      “Now everyone I know is just content with touch screen keyboard and can live with it.”

      The fact that you don’t have the option for a full physical keyboard with any of BlackBerry’s competitors does not imply contentment from everyone.

      My wife came from BlackBerry, to HTC Desire Z (flip out keyboard), and is now using a Galaxy S4. She would switch to the Passport or the Classic (Q20) in a second, just to get a physical keyboard again.

    • Yeria

      Well…you’re bound to have SOME who are unhappy, but in general, I think people are content.

      Even without a decent QWERTY Android device, the OS pretty much owns the smartphone market along with iPhones. That tells me, people considering physical keyboard as a deciding factor when buying a phone has become the minority.

      To me, that implies contentment. If physical keyboard was important enough for everyone, Blackberry would not have lost its marketshare so quickly. Apparently, having more apps is more important for people than being able to type on physical keyboards.

  • Columbo

    Sorry buddy, BB10 is actually very simple to use, if you can’t understand it that says more about you than about the phone…

    • Dimitri

      I really doubt they ever used it & lets say they did, i really do not think they understand how to use a simple phone. If they claim Apple is easy to use & they can not use BB10 which is pretty simple, they don’t know anything then.
      They are most likely the same people that go around other websites trolling people with different names because they have nothing better to do / have no job or life & like trolling people / companies. I want to see them do it towards the CEO’s of the companies they troll or face to face. They wouldn’t because there is no screen & keyboard to protect them.

    • marorun1982

      Would love to say what i think to Mr Cook face to face…
      Same to mr Chen of Blackberry.

      They both need to learn to listen more to customers..

  • Columbo

    “Re-inventing the keyboard” – that much is hard to argue. For the first time in years I feel like a company is trying something new that will actually shape the user experience, not just a shinier screen or a heart rate monitor. Still not sure if this would ever be the phone for me, but I definitely want to try it out.

    • marorun1982

      I guess you live on the moon.
      Lots of innovation from various company came out..
      Dont have time to give them here but just do a little search plz.

    • Omis

      Google search smartphone innovation: Now with new hat.

    • J-Ro

      5.0 to 5.1 is innovation. Not to mention smaller sim card…. Mind Blown.

      I think the word “innovation” is a lot like the word “tweking”. Its in the dictionary and people claim to do it quite a bit. But in the end your left with nothing but a few chuckles and 2 minutes wasted.

  • marorun1982

    Well hopefully its wont fail miserably like the Q10 keyboard..
    Client have load of problem of key been press 1 time and the letter been writen many time..
    like you press E one time and get EEEEE lol…
    Had to repair some Q10 up to 3 time each for this problem..

  • Steven Clarke

    people had problems with the gestures on the current devices. how will this make it easier?

    how will this fit in pant pockets?

    • Dimitri

      How do the Note series devices and S5, G2, Z1-Z ultra devices fit in the pockets…

      I have read a few people who problems with the gestures but never really put effort to make it work.

    • Tootall

      Take your passport and put it into your pocket. It is the same size! BlackBerry have been designing phones for many years do you think they would make it so it would not fit. Think of the executives or doctor who can slip it into their suit jacket.

    • Don Staples

      UH, it’s not designed to fit in your pants pocket. It’s designed to fit in your suit coat pocket. They will sell it to you if you want but the exec’s Doctors and those who can use the features it has to make money are the people it was designed for.

  • KiwiBri

    This would have been cool a few years ago.. I guess using phablet devices like phones is common now. I see so many on the GO Trains.. Lots of ladies with their large phones facebooking and sudkoing and doing that makeup/dressup app.. lol!
    The ones who have a work phone usually have an old BB or somesort playing brickbreaker(?) Why is it always this game?

    • TP

      can’t disagree. every single BB I’ve seen on GO is old BB, and every time someone plays a game on BB, it’s always brickbreaker.

    • Aidan

      That’s because all blackberries come with BrickBraker preinstalled and so everybody plays it. Also the shortened version of BrickBraker is BB which is awesome. :)

  • Plazmic Flame

    These “features” with the touch sensitive keyboard are going to be interesting. My concern is that, from the description, is that this keyboard will require perfect typing. What I mean is that I can remember when I had my BlackBerry and my hands would slide along the keyboard until my fingers got to the next letter I needed. What I’m seeing is that there will be lots of indirect actions going on with this new keyboard.

  • TheTechSmith

    A shame so much talk of iPhone with such a different product here. If iPhone was the only phone in existence, I’m sure iOS7 and 8 would be a lot less than they are now. On topic, I really want to try this phone. It’s quite different. I’m not sure if I can deal with the width of it but that touch keyboard sounds awesome, and I’d like to try that aspect ratio. It might be more convenient for a lot of tasks.

  • Ericp2011

    Because they are trolling…

  • 4beaches

    I have never owned a Blackberry but I think this is one I could use. This is innovation. They are trying something different that is outside of the ordinary. Some people don’t like it and it wont work for them but at the same time, many have been looking for a device that does something like this and it has never been offered before. Good on you Blackberry. Ignore the trolls and stay the course because you are improving

    • Wizzy

      Yeah, the industry has been moving toward corners sharp enough to break skin for years. I’m glad the technology is finally in our grasp.

  • MeltingSnowtime

    I’m wondering why the virtual keys would have a backslash displayed when surfing the web. URLs don’t have backslashes in them.

  • southerndinner

    The BlackBerry down vote brigade of employees has arrived just in time to down vote truth telling comments!

    • Black Truck

      As BlackBerry shares surge in value, such comments become more laughable. Apparently the market knows something you don’t.

      Amazing what 6 months will do. BlackBerry is getting lots of positive press these days. The other operating systems – not so much. Lots of news about their security breaches, os issues, and so on.

  • southerndinner

    It’s going to be hilarious when none of the carriers in Canada take this gross looking beast after the Z30 bombed hard

    • Tuan Bui

      Lol brah, did he hit a nerve? I guess that makes it a fact because you supposedly heard it from someone else.

  • Aidan

    Ok… are the keys on this phone bigger than older Blackberries? I have really big hands and on all older blackberries no matter how hard i try not to i continually push more than one key at a time while trying to type. I’ve always wanted a keyboard phone but if i bought one and had these problems i would have a miserable time. Does anybody know if the passport keys are bigger for bigger hands or will i never be able to buy a blackberry without regretting it?

  • Andrew English

    Just as many companies have tried to reinvent the PC keyboard they have all failed. BlackBerry will also fail with the Passport because this same idea they too can reinvent the wheel (as it where).

    • Spencer

      Looks like there’s nothing new in your life. And I’m so glad you have the old crystal ball still working. We’ll see whether there are as many fellow Luddites as you think there are. Go back to cutting wood.

    • Andrew English

      I have watched them grow up and fall down. Now they are just stumbling around trying to find something that will get them 1st place again, but re-inventing the keyboard is only going to do them more harm than good, and that’s my 2 cents, if you don’t agree then say you don’t agree but going go around insulting people because you think it’s cool when it’s not is not the way to debate anything.

    • Spencer

      Talking about lack of specificity I refer you to your generalized keyboard comment and ask what you specifically find in this unique and amazingly forward looking keyboard that is “stumbling around” and “doing them more harm than good”? Have you tried it? Is there anything that you can intelligently put your fingers on (pun intended) that can be deemed a reasonable review of the keyboard without actually putting the device in your hands and actually using it? Hey, you might even like it and then won’t you be embarrassed with these unfounded 2 cents comments.

  • J-Ro

    Why would I do that? Blackberry is currently leading the pack in terms of innovation. I can say that because Apple is currently stealing from them. Apple only steals the best so BB10 must be going in a great direction.