Passport: BlackBerry explains why it’s ‘hip to be square’

Read our full BlackBerry Passport review.

When BlackBerry CEO John Chen gave us a sneak peek of the company’s forthcoming Passport device last month, its bizarre design seemed to catch many tech commentators off guard. While some lauded the company for trying something different, others speculated as to whether BlackBerry’s design team had finally lost its marbles.

In an effort to silence the doubters and explain what’s so good about the Passport – with its striking 4.5-inch square display and three-row physical keyboard – BlackBerry’s Matt Young has taken to the mobile maker’s blog to convince us that the design wasn’t scribbled out on a napkin toward the end of a beery night out and that actually it had good reason to build the device in the way that it did.

‘Breaking design boundaries’

The post suggests the Passport is “breaking design boundaries”, and while this may certainly be the case, this might only be because these boundaries are ones that other tech firms knew existed but had no desire to go near.

That aside, Young points out how device companies have been “emulating the same entertainment-driven look for so long that there’s been a homogenization of the visual cues in smartphone design.”

The BlackBerry blogger says the Passport brings something different to the table, releasing us from the rectangular world we’ve been living in for so many years.

Designed from scratch “with the working professional in mind”, Young goes on to explain how the Passport will benefit everyone from architects to healthcare workers to writers.

Phrases such as “large square screen” and “enough screen real estate” pop up in the post, though in a paragraph titled Hip to be Square, an attempt is made to explain in detail why it’s not so hip to be rectangle:

Based on academic typology, the optimal number of characters on a line in a book is 66 characters (current rectangular smartphones show approx. 40 characters and BlackBerry will show 60 characters). BlackBerry Passport offers its size and aspect ratio to accommodate these characters, making it the ideal device for reading e-books, viewing documents and browsing the web.

Buy that?

The proof of the pudding will be in the getting-our-hands-on-it-and-trying-it-out, but it’s going to be a few more months before we can do that. In the meantime, let us know if you’re swayed at all by BlackBerry’s effort to win its unusual design a little love.

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