back to article Man, its smartphones are SQUARE. But will BlackBerry make a comeback with them?

BlackBerry, which recently suffered one of the most sudden and catastrophic crashes of any technology company, begins its comeback on Wednesday. For John Chen's firm, it marks the end of almost 18 months in the wilderness and out of the public eye. But the Canadian mobile firm is still going, and just about breaking even – it' …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I got love for you

    If you were designed in the 80s.

    1. LarsG

      For their next trick....

      A square wheel.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh my dear God. Does anyone want to buy a big square phone/pad thing?

    1. James 51
    2. Yugguy

      Me maybe

      I do miss the tactile response of an actual keyboard. I can type far faster and more accurately on the old blackberry than I can on a touchpad smartphone.

    3. the spectacularly refined chap

      Does anyone want to buy a big square phone/pad thing?

      Of course. All the other smartphones look much the same. This is sufficiently different to everything else that it instantly makes clear that

      a) You're not a rich nob with an iPhone, and

      b) You're not a poor nob who wanted an iPhone but couldn't afford one.

      1. Nasty Nick

        Other types of nobs..

        c) You're an odd nob


        d) You're just a bog standard ordinary, run-of-the-mill nob

        I think c) and d) are still better than a) or b) mind.

        I want one (a BB Passport that is).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "This is sufficiently different to everything else that it instantly makes clear that...."

        They could have made it triangular, or even star shaped then? I think not. It's a brave effort, but it's the brave effort of a company that finds every logical path blocked, and so they take the least illogical path.

        Can you imagine the struggle to get that fucker out of a tight pair of jeans? I suppose most Blackberry hard core addicts don't have the figure for tight jeans, but if you follow the demographic then you'll be issuing that in beige with a ear trumpet accessory.

        I'm sorry to say that, but that's how it sits.

        1. Tommy Pock

          One doesn't wear tight jeans to board meetings. When the CEO sees my Passport next to my glass of mineral water he's going to KNOW I haven't wasted half of the morning trying to beat my current high score of 108 on Flappy Bird. He'd also be wrong.

          It's a win-win.

          1. zebthecat


            ...If you wish to while away your commute with Flappy Bird you still can,

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Can you imagine the struggle to get that fucker out of a tight pair of jeans?

          I admit the first thing I thought of when I saw the picture was how convenient, and safe, it'd be in a pant pocket. If I wore a suit jacket all the time (which I would, if I had a good excuse to, but alas I don't) it'd be fine. As it is, I'm not sure how I'd carry the damn thing around.

          As it stands, I'll probably stick with cheap Android phones with sliding physical keyboards for the foreseeable future. Nothing else looks like a viable replacement for my use case.

        3. Roland6 Silver badge

          re: Can you imagine the struggle to get that fucker out of a tight pair of jeans?

          Well if you must wear tight jeans and put a phone in the pocket then there have been few phones that fit that use case since the launch of the iPhone. Really you are looking at phones like the old Nokia 6111 or 5300, which not only fitted comfortably in trouser pockets but also didn't stick out and so run the risks of being nicked or falling out without you noticing.

          As others have pointed out, this is a phone for the jacket pocket/handbag or shirt pocket (tech's) rather than the trouser pocket.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        c). You didn't want a JesusPhone ever and never will.

        d). It's a phone. Grow up!

      4. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

        A rich nob?

        "a rich nob with an iPhone,"

        Not really. A friend of mine is lamenting the fact that his poor, part time employed, minimum wage kids just spent the last few days waiting in iPhone lines for the latest shiny. And now he is going to have to make Top Ramen deliveries for the next few months because the toys came out of their meager food budgets.

        Having the latest iThing is becoming a statement of "I have enough free time to sleep on the sidewalk for this". Not a stereotype that the upper levels of society wish to adopt.

    4. dogged

      I guess we'll find out?

    5. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Oh my dear God. Does anyone want to buy a big square phone/pad thing?

      It's a bloody phone - and comms device. Can it make phone calls? Can it text and email? Can I see my contacts and diary, and get online a bit?

      Next question, is it nice to use. What it looks like, I couldn't really give a damn. Although I admit that in a work phone I insist on black or some dull grey/silver thing, because I think primary colours look a tad unprofessional. But if there's no choice, I'll take the best handset. Which means that I have had a metallic purple (aubergine possibly?) Motorola RAZR V3i - possibly the best phone I ever had.

      Personally I never liked the Blackberry buttons. Too small for my fat fingers. And I was quicker texting on an old dumbphone. Though some people were incredibly quick at typing with their berries. However I've come to hate trying to type on touchscreen keyboards. It doesn't help that Apple's keyboard, auto-correct and text handling is now crap compared to Win Phone and Android. I'm thinking my next work phone will be a Lumia. Or a Galaxy Note, then I'd get a yummy stylus for text input.

      But this thing might be good. Bigger phone, bigger buttons. Some tactile feedback instead of horrible onscreen peck-and-miss. Not as good if you want the whole screen to be able to use the internet a lot. But I use my mobile as a phone. Calendar, email and large numbers of contacts are secondary, and the browser and apps come in a definite third place. If your usage is different, then please move along. It's all about having the right tool for the job. If the tool is also pretty, so much the better. If it's not, who cares.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    But unfortunately inspired in the same way that a prop designer might have imagined a handheld computer for the original "Back to the Future".

  4. FartingHippo


    You bend over suddenly (for whatever reason you might like to imagine) and that's going to sting. I know manufacturers are wary of rounded corners, but that's like a telephonic shuriken!

    1. psychonaut

      Re: Ow!

      "a telephonic shuriken!"

      no doubt a good RIMing needed to soothe the after effects

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Really looking forward to trying out BB Blend, having the interoperability of the BB 10 OS in a desktop client will be superb. Hopefully they'l include functions for backing up SMSs, BBMs etc.

  6. The lone lurker

    I actually want one...

    I really miss having a physical keyboard on my phone and as an existing Amazon customer this does seem to tick a lot of my boxes. The aspect ratio of that screen looks like it'd be great for eBooks etc. as well.

    However, after their about face on the promised Playbook update I just cannot bring myself to get back in their camp though. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

  7. Test Man

    Oh God, yet another grid of icons.


  8. JDX Gold badge

    Life imitates Art

    Fans of American Office will remember this.

    1. psychonaut

      Re: Life imitates Art

      wow. that sabre thing is nuts!

      did you have to buy and then tessellate two of them to make reading anything viable without going insane?

  9. Sonny Jim

    That's not a square, it's a rectangle.

    1. PleebSmash

      All squares are rectangles

      1. Queasy Rider

        Yes, but not all rectangles are squares. Sorry, I couldn't let that pass.

    2. king of foo

      Are you sure its not a rhombus?

  10. Cookieninja

    I'm no BlackBerry fan, but ...

    I'd want to try a square mobile before I dismissed the idea. I imagine the shape could be more useful for productivity apps. iPad and iPad mini is 4:3, which isn't quite square but closer to it than the 16:9 ratio of most Android tablets and mobiles.

    The killer for me is the keyboard, not so keen on that. I liked the Palm Pre 2 one, but the rest sucked for me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ Cookieninja Re: I'm no BlackBerry fan, but ...

      > than the 16:9 ratio of most Android tablets

      I thought most popular Android tablets (Nexus, Samsung Tabs, Sony, Lenovo) were 16:10 while most Windows tablets were 16:9. While 16:10 is indeed further away from square than 4:3 it's still a whole lot better than 16:9 (which I hate with a passion).

  11. James 51

    Let's not forget the classic which looks more conventional if the passport is not your cup of hot caffeinated beverage.

  12. Lost In Clouds of Data

    It's a brick!

    A wafer thin brick perhaps, but a brick none the less.

    Sharp angular design, a keyboard that would have looked good in the 90's and a name that's now tarnished beyond saving...

    Like the Walking Dead, the #Deadphone is back, but unlike the walkers, I don't see this sucker surviving very long.

  13. Frank N. Stein

    I still say that a thin 5" screen device with a side sliding keyboard, would get the job done. Real keyboard for this who want. 5" Touchscreen for those who don't.

  14. Christian Berger

    A typical MBA decision

    They see that their device is used for one thing, e-mail, and they see their market threatened by touchscreen phones. Therefore they build a touch screen phone... which doesn't sell well... then they add a keyboard... which sells a little bit better... then they make it square so you can actually read something on it without ditching the touch screen phone form factor.

    This won't stop the squeeze from other touch screen phone manufacturers. What Blackberry could do would be to find new markets. For example if they had a decent keyboard (with CTRL, ALT and ESC keys) they could become immensely popular with technical users. If they would open the protocol or allow secure sessions they could get secure alternatives to the BES.

    There's a lot of space left in the mobile world, but you need to stop going where it's crowded.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Android could run Android apps years ago

    Android had large screens years ago

    Android phones have had 3 gig of RAM for months etc etc

    Am I doing this right?

  16. stephajn

    Did the article author turn into yoda in the final sentence?

    "Some 10,000 redundancies later, at least BlackBerry has waited _until tell it can a decent story_ before launching its comeback"

    Voice of Frank Oz going off in my head....

  17. Happy Moose

    BB Blend...

    Will it?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    love it

    First phone I've been excited about since iphone4.

    What's with this writer going on about the missteps of the past. Writers have been doing that for past 5 years. As if we want to read about it one more time.

    1. Wilson! Wilson!

      Re: love it

      Yes, every tech blogger/writer needs to give us a history lesson on BlackBerry at the beginning of every article... I usually start reading at the third paragraph. It is annoying for up to date tech readers who are more interested in what's new than stale news.

  19. TheRealRoland

    But not that bigger than

    a Samsung Note 3 or 4 (can't remember which one, but i'm sure both of these are close matches themselves) -- the Passport is slightly wider, and a just a bit shorter.

    And with the Apple iPhone6 being the bee's knees right now, what are people complaining about? Really, the size? That it's square? I'm sure we'll hear the age-old 'app store is empty!' - you know, i don't need no stinkin' apps.

    Remember the immortal words of Huey Lewis and The News: 'it's hip to be square'!

    Now, if only this would be available for a CDMA (Verizon) network...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But not that bigger than

      Having the bb passport identified with mor has-been warbler Huey Lewis was probably not what bb's marketing team were aiming for.

  20. RAMChYLD

    Definitely worth looking out for

    According to GSMArena, this phone has worldwide 9-band LTE connectivity. Definitely interested in getting one if just to use as a broadband modem, since my cell telco's 4G internet is just much faster than my fiber ISP.

  21. qzdave

    I must be going soft in the head

    Is it just me or is anyone else kinda hoping they can pull off a recovery? I just love an underdog (though they didn't start as one, admittedly)...and everyone loves the Canadians. The phone is like a pig ugly it's cute.

  22. ted frater

    Im going to support the post of Testman, who said another grid of icons, yawn?

    In so far as might there just be a choice? of a text list instead on icons?

    I dont like icons, and use a MP that has its menu in text. OK its win mobile version 6,

    but it does what I want, not what the MP maker thinks I want.

    theres no choice for this in most Android MP's.

    Now at tomorrows Passport launch, can i please ask the author of this article if he goes to it, to ask some high up Blackberry droid if he can have a text menu instead of icons? Id love to know.

  23. kmac499

    It's A Cracker

    No really it is just like a great big Jacobs Cracker.

    What is encouraging is that

    1) Whoever designed it was thinking differently

    2) Whoever signed it off was thinking differently.

    Which by no means guarentees success but at least deserves a round of applause for effort.

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