Hands-on with the BlackBerry Passport Silver Edition

The BlackBerry Passport Silver Edition seems like an anomaly, a design a BlackBerry engineer, after playing around with a classic Leica or Fujifilm camera, decided to jot down on paper.

The result, though, is a formidable slab of stainless steel and glass, and a willing participant in the narrative that BlackBerry, with one foot out of the smartphone game, still has a lot to offer in that same market.

Inside the Silver Edition, things are relatively unchanged: there’s still a 4.5-inch 1440 x 1440 pixel LCD display, a quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, a 13MP rear camera with optical image stabilization, and a 3,450mAh battery cell. For all intents and purposes, a fast machine.


But the Silver Edition changes up the keyboard in places, making it considerably easier to type. That’s owed to a space bar that, while no wider than before, is more easily depressed, with greater area below the bottom row to rest one’s knuckles.


Ever so slightly taller than the original, the sides are also curved, softening the harsh look of its forebear. The dual-toned finish, bedecked with a brushed silver-coloured stainless steel frame, gives it a retro look. Similarly, the etched speaker grills on the bottom lend it a maturity that the original lacked.


BlackBerry has also reinforced the rear camera sensor, protecting it from scratches with a metal ring around the lens.


Separating the camera lens and flash, and embedding the latter in the rear steel bezel itself, is yet another nod to various analog cameras of yesteryear.


Still running BlackBerry 10.3.2, the Passport Silver Edition differs in external appearance only. And at $649 CAD, it’s $50 more expensive than the regular model, which can be purchased in black, white, or black-and-red.

While I wouldn’t go so far as to call the device a collector’s edition, BlackBerry’s limited run of the phone, and the quiet way it introduced it, lends the Passport Silver Edition a bit more nuance than a regular refresh.