Canada-based manufacturer BlackBerry -- originally Research In Motion -- was the first company to successfully establish smartphones as an essential part of productivity in the workplace. The company fell on hard times once Apple's iPhone and competing Android devices became established, bringing not only productivity but also numerous social and entertainment apps to the mobile marketplace. Newer BlackBerry models combine the manufacturer's traditional strengths with a modern, touch-driven interface.
The BlackBerry Passport is immediately recognizable in any group of high-end smartphones due to its utterly unconventional form. It's precisely the size and shape of a passport -- hence the name -- with a distinctively large, square screen. BlackBerry contends that this unusual design provides a substantial improvement in usability for business power users, with extra screen real estate for spreadsheets and forms. The three-row keyboard doesn't follow BlackBerry's traditional layout, but still adheres to the familiar QWERTY standard. The keyboard itself is touch-sensitive, and acts as a touchpad pointing device. The Passport runs the gesture-based BB10 OS.
Pure-Touch BlackBerry Phones
The 5-inch Z10 and 5.5-inch Z30 are Blackberry's equivalents to mainstream Apple and Android touchscreen phones. Like the competitors it emulates, these phones rely on an on-screen, touch-based keyboard for typing purposes. This design represented a significant departure for the company with its long history of physical keyboards. The phones were launched in conjunction with the BB10 operating system, which differed from iOS and Android by relying on gestures rather than onscreen grids of icons. It's an approach that isn't as immediately intuitive, but is potentially quicker and more productive, once mastered.
Hybrid BB10 Phones
For loyal users who cherish the traditional BlackBerry keyboard, the company also manufactures phones combining that keyboard with the touch-driven BB10 operating system. The Q10 was introduced a few months after the Z10, with a square 720-pixel screen. It omitted BlackBerry's center-mounted trackpad, deemed unnecessary with the touch-driven OS. Many users objected to this, and the company ultimately created a revised BB10 phone called the "BlackBerry Classic." This retains the BB10 operating system, but the phone itself is physically very similar to the older Blackberry devices that once ruled the boardroom. It brings back the trackpad and the traditional four-row keyboard layout cherished by the company's hardcore loyalists.
The company also produces a limited number of special-edition phones, targeted squarely at the executive suite. These sleek communicators are retooled by Porsche Design, clothing the BlackBerry circuitry in cases distinguished by superior styling and the use of premium materials. For the well-heeled, a Porsche BlackBerry represents an accessory worthy of its powerful namesake.
Older BlackBerry Phones
Older BlackBerry designs are still in wide use, most notably the Bold and Curve series phones that survived into the BB10 era. The Bold phones are slightly larger, with screen resolutions of up to 640 by 480 pixels and a full-sized version of the classic BlackBerry keyboard. Curve models are slightly smaller and lighter, with screen resolutions of up to 480 by 360 pixels and a narrower version of the keyboard that's friendlier to small hands.
- Photo Credit Adam Berry/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
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