Day 1 - first impressions
My first impressions are more than favourable – this is a great looking BlackBerry. The stainless steel surface has a matt finish, so it looks stylish without being too over the top.
Round the back there’s a black dimpled effect that looks good, and it also makes the Passport Silver Edition feel like it’s not going to slip out my hand any time soon.
The Passport Silver Edition is wider and heavier than my normal Android phone, and it took a little bit of getting used to. But as soon as I gave up trying to use it single-handedly it was fine.
I quickly found myself balancing the device in between both hands and typing with both thumbs onto that famous physical keyboard - just like a seasoned BlackBerry user. It felt comfortable, fast, and probably more accurate than my normal onscreen typing.
Day 2 - keyboard and trackpad
Apparently BlackBerry has made the physical keyboard on this Passport Silver Edition a bit smoother and less stiff than on the normal Passport. A friend of mine has one such normal Passport, so I was able to compare. There wasn’t too much difference, but the keys on my Passport Silver Edition did seem a little shallower and easier to press.
The physical keys are also touch-enabled, so they recognise gestures like swiping up or across them to help you navigate around the BlackBerry 10 operating system. This felt weird at first. I only usually swipe at a physical keyboard when my PC has crashed and I’ve lost all patience with it. But after only a day or two, it became almost second nature.
Unlike older BlackBerry devices, the Passport lacks a fourth row of physical number keys. They’re now virtual onscreen keys, and they rather cleverly change depending on exactly what you're doing.
There’s also a trackpad built into the keyboard, but I’ll admit I didn’t use it too much. Perhaps because I’m so used to my old Android phone, I preferred to use the touchscreen to scroll up and down through web pages and apps. For me, the main issue was that I didn’t always know if the trackpad would work or not. It works in some apps, but not in others.
Day 3 - enjoying the display
The Passport Silver Edition has a large, square screen that once again is something that I’m not quite used to.
I had no complaints in terms of quality though – the display was sharp, bright and colourful, and it was easy to view even in direct sunlight.
The wider display was also a definite advantage on a few occasions, such as map reading, viewing spreadsheets and browsing my emails. It’s the perfect shape for Instagram too.
Day 4 - superb call quality
The Passport Silver Edition has some nifty sounding features to make your phone calls clearer, like ‘Active Leak Compensation’. This automatically adjusts the call volume based on how close you hold the device to your ear.
Based on the calls I made, it does what it says on the tin. Even with lots of background noise – at a train station no less – I was able to receive clear instructions from my wife on the colour of recycling bins that had to be put out when I got home (brown and blue, this week).
Day 5 - sounds amazing
Day 5 was time to test the speakers, and I did this by banging out a few tunes on Spotify, then playing a few games at top volume.
I was impressed by both the volume and quality. The Passport Silver Edition can certainly belt out a tune, and the sound effects on my games – especially the awesome GT Racing 2 - were amazing. Loud, accurate and crystal clear.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been too surprised by this sound quality, because the Passport Silver Edition is rocking a pair of stereo speakers at the bottom of the device, and a front-facing speaker at the top. Very nice indeed.
Day 6 - apps and games to entertain
I tested out my Passport Silver Edition’s gaming credentials by installing some of the biggest and baddest games I could find, such as GT Racing 2. This is a speedy, graphic-rich game, and my Passport handled it with ease. There were no lags or glitches, and the only crashes (you can probably guess what’s coming) were down to my rubbish driving.
The interesting thing about GT Racing 2 is that it was an Android app (running on BlackBerry Android runtime), which I was able to download from the preinstalled Amazon Appstore. This gives BlackBerry owners more choice when it comes to apps and games – with the likes of Minecraft and Candy Crush now available.
Day 7 – my verdict
My week is up and I feel that I’ve barely scratched the surface of what BlackBerry has to offer. For example, I didn’t use my Passport Silver Edition to do much work-wise. But if this is your thing there are quite a few preinstalled apps to help you get things done on the move, including Dropbox, Docs To Go and Evernote.
Finally, I’ve got to mention how much I enjoyed the BlackBerry Hub - the place where I could easily view all of my notifications, from phone calls and text messages to Tweets and Facebook comments. I’d love to see this type of universal inbox on my Android phone…
Could the BlackBerry Passport Silver Edition be for you? Well, if you like the welcoming sound of a physical keyboard clicking under your fingers, want to easily view your notifications in one place, and need to get some extra work done now and again, why not check it out?
If you’re already a BlackBerry convert, let us know why you can’t do without yours. What does it offer you that other phones don’t? Share your comments below.