Since the early days of the modern smartphone, the focus has been on creating a screen which is the ‘optimum’ shape and size for the user to reach with just one thumb and this has led us to a series of devices that have rectangular screens in a portrait orientation. In more recent time, less has been more when it comes to connections and buttons. Where we once had full mechanical keyboards and home buttons, everything has now been replaced by on-screen icons and touch sensitive areas on the front face of the handset with a couple of buttons on the sides for volume control and screen lock.
It seems though that Blackberry are tired of this ‘generic blueprint’ stating that the sense of innovation is dead – designers are stuck in their ways and this is what has led to most smartphones looking roughly the same with components all in roughly the same positions. This however is not good enough for Blackberry as they announce square as the new rectangle with the Passport smartphone.
“We’ve been living in a rectangular world for quite some time and know it’s a great ergonomic design that drives content, media consumption and quick communications. However, the rectangle has become a de facto approach to smartphone design, perhaps limiting innovations.”
Built around a 4.5″ square display with a 1440 x 1440 resolution, Blackberry claim that this design is comparable to a typical smartphone that features a 5″ display, but due to the screens wider aspect, the viewing experience is improved considerably.
“Consider how IMAX movies begin with the screens set to a more traditional 16:9 aspect ratio projection for conventional movie trailers, before expanding to their true dimensions (and the audience goes, “ooh”). The Passport is like the IMAX of productivity, and you don’t have to sacrifice screen real estate, vertically or horizontally.”
Designed mainly for the business market the Passport will feature a physical keyboard as seen on a number of other business orientated handsets from Blackberry and the intention is that spreadsheets and word processing should be a lot easier as well as the reading and composition of emails due to the space to fill in an extra 20 characters per line on the display.
A launch date could around later this year is expected (to coincide with the launch of Blackberry’s 10.3 OS) and although there is no word on pricing at this moment, I expect we will see an attractive price being pitched in order to draw people in as we know Blackberry are not in the best of financial positions at this moment as it is.
Whether the Passport will be a popular handset or not is something that I can’t quite decide at this moment in time to be honest. I can understand where they are coming from with the wider aspect display, but when we look at how far display technology has come in the last couple of years, I don’t think it will be long before we see rectangular displays packing a typical resolution of 1440 x 2560, meaning they will be able to display more than the Passport is projected to offer – something to mull over there I think.
Source and image courtesy: Ars Technica