Last week we told you about BlackBerry's CES announcement of its new(ish) AT&T specific version of the Passport. Rounded corners, rather than the squared-off ones on the original model, are the obvious change for this iteration. In fact, the design of the AT&T Passport looks a lot more like the new BlackBerry Classic (shown in the image further down this post).
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (MSM8974AA)|
|CPU||Qualcomm Krait 400 (4 Core) @ 2.26 GHz|
|GPU||Qualcomm Adreno 330 @ 450 MHz|
|Memory||3 GB LPDDR3|
|Display||4.5-inch IPS @ 1440 x 1440 (453 ppi), 1:1 aspect ratio with Corning Gorilla Glass 3|
|Storage||32 GB with microSD slot for up to 128 GB of expandable storage|
|Battery||3,450 mAh (non-removable)|
|Cameras||Front: 2 MPRear: 13 MP f/2.0 with OIS and LED-flash|
|Expansion Ports||microSD slot, USB 2.0|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, NFC, FM RadioCat 4 LTE Bands 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/13/17/20|
|Dimensions||131 x 90.5 x 9.25 mm|
|Operating System||BlackBerry 10 OS 10.3.1|
While we were at CES, we were able to get a brief hands-on with the new Passport, which you can see in the video below. We also included a quick look at the AT&T version of the Classic, too.
Prior to seeing the AT&T Passport, we spent a little time with the original version. While it's certainly not a device for everyone, we understand BlackBerry's design philosophy. BlackBerry still has a very loyal following and there are a lot of fans of this oddly shaped smartphone.
In my time using one, I found that there was a lot to like. It has powerful, up-to-date hardware, a great screen, good camera, outstanding battery life, and of course an amazing keyboard. BlackBerry also has expanded access to Android apps on their platform by using the Amazon Appstore. Also, since not every Android app is available from Amazon, especially those that require Google Play services, there are now unofficial and unsupported methods to install the Google Play store on the Passport. After doing this, you'll have access to nearly every Android app, although some apps, especially games, don't work well with the Passport's unique screen aspect ratio.
While working on this post, we noticed that the press images for the new Passport were dated October 21, so clearly the AT&T version of the Passport has been in the works for some time. When the Passport first launched in September, AT&T was announced as the exclusive U.S. carrier, but no release information was given. Apparently, AT&T was waiting for the redesigned version to become available. It's just a little odd that it took so long for it to be formally announced. Perhaps AT&T didn't think BlackBerry's latest could compete with the other phone releases of last fall, or it's simply that BlackBerry couldn't deliver enough units until now.
We asked BlackBerry if this well-rounded version of the Passport will ever be available on other carriers. While it's exclusive to AT&T for now, BlackBerry said it may be available from other carriers, or even directly from BlackBerry like the original Passport, in the future.
At CES 2015, we also got a quick look at the AT&T Classic. Unlike the Passport, there haven't been any changes apart from the addition of the AT&T logo on the back, as can be seen below.
The AT&T BlackBerry Passport does not have a hard release date yet, although it should be announced in the coming weeks. It will be offered for free on the AT&T Next plan, $200 with a two-year contract, and $650 outright. The AT&T BlackBerry Classic also doesn't have a release date yet and will be free on the AT&T Next plan, $50 with a two-year contract, and $420 outright. If interested, you can register on AT&T's site to be emailed when more information about their availability is released.