The iPhone 6 may be getting all the attention this week, but BlackBerry believes its new 4.5-inch square handset, the Passport, has at least one distinct advantage over most “narrow” smartphones, including the iPhone 6.
Steve Jobs once insisted the multi-touchscreen on the original iPhone was vastly superior to feature phones with static, physical keyboards — as pictured above — but BlackBerry says the physical keyboard paired with the square design of the Passport actually makes it easier to use, especially when writing emails, memos, or documents.
To demonstrate the point, BlackBerry’s director of product Jeff Gadway on Wednesday showed what it’s like to look at the same word document in the BlackBerry Passport and the iPhone 6.
“If I want to be able to read this document, I have to zoom in quite considerably,” Gadway says. “Now watch what happens: I lose a good chunk of the content off the right hand side of this screen. And in order to read this memo, I need to pan back and forth across the page as I go through the document.
But where this problem really comes to light, according to Gadway, is when you want to make edits.
“I touch on the screen and it brings up the virtual keyboard,” he says. “Now about a third of my screen is obscured by the virtual keyboard so my ability to really interact with this content is compromised.”
You might think simply turning the iPhone (or comparable Android phone) to landscape mode might solve some of these problems with left-right viewing, but it actually creates other issues.
“It still isn’t fitting all on the page, but it’s a little bit better. The challenge here, though, is two-thirds of the screen is now obscured by the keyboard, so I can only see a small sliver of my content,” Gadway says.
The BlackBerry Passport faces some really tough competition, but this particular aspect of the square phone might be attractive to professionals who do a lot of work — particularly writing and editing — on their mobile devices.
The Passport, which goes on sale Wednesday in the US, UK, Canada, France, and Germany, costs $US599 without a contract and $US249 with a two-year contract, though The Wall Street Journal says pricing will vary by carrier.