• BlackBerry has today unveiled its first handset in more than a year with the BlackBerry Passport.

    The new handset, the first since the Z30 in October last year was unveiled as part of a global launch event held in London’s plush Hyatt Regency Hotel this afternoon.

    It comes preloaded with the latest update of its operating system – BlackBerry 10.3, an update to BB10 which first launched on the Z10 and Q10 handsets when they were first unveiled in January 2013.

    The Passport is powered by a quad-core 2.2GHz processor and has a 4.5-inch, 1440 x 1440-pixel square touchscreen made from toughened Corning Gorilla Glass, as well as a three-row QWERTY touch-enabled keyboard.

    BlackBerry - Passport front

    BlackBerry said the square screen will make tasks like reading and writing emails, reviewing and editing documents, web browsing and map navigation more comfortable and effortless.

    It has a 13 megapixel rear camera, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal memory that can be expanded by 128GB with a microSD, a quad microphone system and 3,450 mAh battery. BlackBerry claimed that it is the largest battery among the top selling smartphones and phablets, and when tested against a “very active user”, provides up to 30 minutes of mixed use and is its best battery power to date.

    The new OS update sees voice-controlled personal assistant BlackBerry Assistant make its debut, which the company said can be used to help users manage work and personal email, contacts, calendar and other native BlackBerry 10 applications. Users will also have access to the Amazon Appstore.

    BlackBerry - Passport back

    Also making its debut is BlackBerry Blend, an app that enables users to securely access content from their BlackBerry smartphone on their tablet or PC. Users can receive notifications, respond to work and personal messages, and access documents, calendars, contacts and media on any device, regardless of the operating system.

    It works across desktop operating systems including Mac OS X 10.7+, iPad tablets running iOS 7+, Windows 7+ and Android tablets running Android 4.4+. The downloadable version of Blend for Macs, and PCs is available at www.BlackBerry.com/Blend, on the Apple App Store for tablets, or via the Google Play Store for Android tablets.

    The BlackBerry Passport is now on sale at Selfridges in the UK and will be available at Carphone Warehouse from Friday.

    BlackBerry - Passport range

    It is now also available through the BlackBerry official online store for customers in the UK, Canada, France, Germany and the US, costing £529 SIM-free, The device will be on sale in 39 countries before the end of the year.

    The Passport was originally unveiled by the firm’s president and chief executive John Chen during its quarterly earnings call back in June this year, although no specifications were discussed.

    Michael Garwood

    Michael Garwood is the editor for the trades leading telecom magazine and website Mobile News. He has been involved in the telecom space for more than a decade and freelancing for What Mobile for almost six years - reporting on the latest technological innovations and handsets.
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