BlackBerry's Strange New Smartphone Has A Physical Keyboard That Doubles As A Touchpad

BlackBerryPassportPhotoCarphone Warehouse via CrackberryThe BlackBerry Passport with its virtual assistant on screen

BlackBerry’s upcoming Passport phone is noticeably larger and wider than your average smartphone, but there’s also another strange feature that distinguishes it from the competition.

The Passport comes with a physical keyboard that actually doubles as a touchpad, meaning you can swipe across the keys to interact with the device.

Early reviews and first impressions of the phone mentioned this feature, but a new video from UK phone retailer Carphone Warehouse actually shows how it works.

BlackBerry blog Crackberry first spotted the video, which has since been taken down by Carphone Warehouse.

It seems like you’ll be able to type letters using the physical buttons, but you would insert characters like symbols and numbers by swiping across the keyboard like you would a touchscreen.

It’s unclear if this method will actually be more effective than typing on a standard touchscreen keyboard, but it’s an interesting approach.

Those who have had the chance to play with the Passport have also praised the phone for its high-resolution display. CrackBerry previously said that the Passport’s screen “is of such an elegance, it even made the most diehard iPhone user smile.” Based on what we can see from Carphone Warehouse’s video, the display does appear to be crisp and colourful.

Although BlackBerry fans seem to love the Passport, it’s unclear if the company’s new oddly-shaped phone is enough to bring it back from its slump. In the last quarter of 2013, the IDC reported that BlackBerry only accounted for 0.3% of the global smartphone market share.

During its quarterly earnings report in June, BlackBerry confirmed its plans to launch the Passport later this year. It’s expected to debut in September.

Check out the full video from Carphone Warehouse below.

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