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Blackberry Cellphones Displays Handhelds

BlackBerry's Innovation: Square-Screened Smartphones 139

EthanV2 sends word that BlackBerry, having finally caught up to a world dominated by smartphones, is now trying to push the envelope by developing a smartphone with a square screen. The BlackBerry Passport has a 4.5-inch screen with a resolution of 1440x1440. The phone has a physical keyboard as well. In a blog post about the new phone, they show a picture with it side-by-side with an iPhone and a Galaxy S5 — the Passport is slightly taller than the iPhone, and significantly wider, as you'd expect. The Passport is a play for BlackBerry's "traditional" work-oriented user base, where the earlier BlackBerry Z10 and Z30 were efforts to break into the post-iPhone consumer smartphone space. Though the Passport may well be preferable for spreadsheets and word processing, that square screen will be much less useful for widescreen movies, and its wide, blocky design will entirely prohibit one-handed use. The Passport is expected to appear later this year, and it will launch with BlackBerry 10.3 (at least, according to early hands-on previews).
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BlackBerry's Innovation: Square-Screened Smartphones

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  • Well that does solve the whole vertical video problem doesn't it :)
    • How do I say it? In just one word? How do I proclaim the way you won me over, once again?

      Shall I try to give voice to these feelings? Listen as I whisper in your ear: "QWERTYUIOP"

      • Listen as I whisper in your ear: "QWERTYUIOP"

        Listen to the words of the serpent I shall not!

        For in my visions I have seen The Answer... and it is spelt thus:


        • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

          Listen to the words of the serpent I shall not!

          For in my visions I have seen The Answer... and it is spelt thus:


          As much as I swear by Dvorak, it's not particularly well suited for thumb-boarding. (Also, not related to Blackberry style keyboards, but it's MUCH worse than QWERTY when it comes to trying to type with one hand on a temporary basis.)

      • by smithmc ( 451373 ) *
        I have QWERTYUIOP on my Android phone. It pops up when I need it and it goes away when I don't - which is most of the time. I, too, used to insist on smartphones with physical keyboards, but I have come to find that a virtual keyboard with Swype is just as good if not better.
        • i do miss my droid 3s keyboard, that thing was awesome but i got used to the on screen keyboards with my galaxy line of phones.

          What i DO want is a tablet in a 10 inch format with a slide keyboard
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Square screens: because FUCK your pockets!

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Not all of us wear skinny jeans, some of us wear cargo pants or a suit-and-tie ensemble, both of which can hold airline boarding passes and/or a passport-wallet sized item, which seems to be about what they're targeting here size-wise.

        So honestly? BRING IT!

        • did you look at a boarding pass, the envelop of crap they ram it into and your passport?

          guess what you see? rectangles.

          rectangles that are a LOT narrower than this thing.

          I believe Stephen Colbert has a custom-made jacket with a pocket that can hold this...

    • A hexagonal screen would not only solve the vertical screen problem but also the 60 degree angle screen.

  • I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @06:13PM (#47410791) Journal

    1.25-1.5:1 How hard is that? We've got centuries of experience in making page sizes for reading and viewing, and most of them fall into that range. Unless you're Hasselblad, ditch the square. If you're not a television, please don't use 16:9.


    • Have you seen some of the recent "Hasseblad" cameras, i.e. Sonys in wood? Expect to see a Hasselblad cell phone in wood. With a square display. A rebranded Blackberry, of course!
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      The limiting factor on a phone is what you can wrap your hand around. This thing looks so wide it couldn't be operated in a single hand. I notice that a lot of BB users are two-handers though, perhaps because of the keyboard, so maybe it isn't a problem in their target market.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        I though the big limiting factor was being able to jam it into a shirt pocket. Although it seems shirt pockets already need to do a bit of catching up definitely needing to become a bit deeper.

        • Those un-rounded corners are going to be murder on the inner lining of pockets of any size. That thing looks decidedly sharp, and I don't mean in a fashionable sense.
        • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
          smart phone in shirt pocket = smart phone in toilet (if your lucky it just bounces off that hard bathroom floor)
          • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

            OK Phablet in protective case in shirt pocket, fairly snug fit, never so much as a hint of coming loose.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        The limiting factor on a phone is what you can wrap your hand around. This thing looks so wide it couldn't be operated in a single hand. I notice that a lot of BB users are two-handers though, perhaps because of the keyboard, so maybe it isn't a problem in their target market.

        Square screens aren't a Blackberry issue - they've had square screens ever since they used that godawful pager protocol.

        The thing is, it was fine to use a blackberry two handed because they strongly considered the single-handed use cas

    • > If you're not a television, please don't use 16:9.

      Unless you watch videos. Then only 16:9.

      • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

        I watch videos on a phone seldom. Even my 5" screen is too small for that to be fun. I do try to web surf but at 16:9 or 9:16 that's just awkward and painful as well. Some of the sites designed for mobile phones aren't too bad but I've given up on /. It truly sucks on the small screen.

      • I think a 16:10 display is sweet for video. More surface for 4:3 content and still very good for 1.85 content.

    • If you're not a television, please don't use 16:9.

      The iPhone seems to be doing pretty well with 16:9. Although given their marketing around how its current ratio and dimensions are perfect the rumors of a size bump in the next iteration are likely to make them look a bit stupid.

      • The 3:2 version was better. As is the 4:3 iPad. I currently have a 16:9 windows tablet and iPhone, and they'd be much more useful as either of those two ratios. I rarely use my iPad anymore because it's so hobbled by the OS as to be utterly inefficient at anything productive, but it kicks the windows tablet's ass when it comes to reading/browsing anything. Jobs had it right, but the son of a bitch died and left a bunch of 12 year old girls running the company.

      • That's never bothered Apple before. Jobs touted how great the PPC architecture was right up until they switched to Intel. They also touted how great the ergonomics of the desklamp iMacs were until suddenly cramming all the computer components behind the screen was more perfect in the new iMacs. Tablet computers were a joke until Apple decided they weren't. (Well, OK, they were right about that.)
    • Read the BlackBerry blog and you will see some of the specific use-cases they considered. Would it be my choice? No, but I do see the point.
  • "Welcome to the Blackberry video rental site! ... where everyone is tall and thin, because we don't believe in 4:5 or 16:9 aspect ratios!"

  • by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @06:14PM (#47410805)

    The picture next to the Samsung S5 is not very fair. They show the 1080 pixel wide S5 only fitting two and a half spread sheet columns on the screen.
    The 1440 pixel wide BB has 11 columns.

    The biggest difference there is the spread sheet viewing app, not the screen (both have the same number of pixels too).

  • Que the outrage (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Maxwell ( 13985 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @06:15PM (#47410807) Homepage

    Complaints of "no one is innovating anymore" followed closely by "look at BB, stupids, phones HAVE to be one handed and pocketable! No innovation allowed!"

    Me? I kind of like it. I use two hands anyway so why not make a true two handed device?

    • by Maxwell ( 13985 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @06:16PM (#47410821) Homepage

      And BB were always fat and square before the Bold models got slimmer. This is like the true successor to the click wheel line.

    • Complaints of "no one is innovating anymore" followed closely by "look at BB, stupids, phones HAVE to be one handed and pocketable! No innovation allowed!"

      To be fair, "let's make our smartphone bigger!" isn't exactly groundbreaking innovation. It's exactly what everybody else has been doing for a few years now.

    • Re:Que the outrage (Score:4, Interesting)

      by taxman_10m ( 41083 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @07:32PM (#47411305)

      Blackberry should make a killer android phone with qwerty slider.

    • by konaya ( 2617279 )

      I use two hands anyway so why not make a true two handed device?

      Personally, my objections have more to do with pocket space. How are you supposed to fit that thing in your pocket? Then, again, it might not be aimed toward the type of customer who carries her phone in her pocket.

  • The square screen isn't the only innovation, the keyboard is also touch sensitive (ie, you pass your fingers over the keys without pressing down), allowing the use of gestures and scrolling through content without touching the screen and getting it dirty or obscuring the display with your fingers.
  • How would it be "less useful" for widescreen movies? You'll have some letterbox matting to compensate for the aspect ratio difference...that's about it. It will play movies. It will play widescreen movies. It just won't play them edge-to-edge on the screen.

    • I'm amazed at how much people seem to need to watch fullscreen video on their phones. Don't get me wrong; there are times I'm stuck somewhere with just my phone, but unless you're commuting on a train - where do you find yourself for long periods of time where you have nothing better to do than watch tv/movies and only have your phone with you?

      (yes, I know: work. ha ha.)

      • There are lots of IT people on Slashdot and we all carry laptops because a phone just doesn't cut it to get any real work done. But there are many other people who would glady stop carrying a laptop if they could. That's who phones like this are aimed at. I'm like that myself sometimes; I just get tired of carrying a bunch of crap around. I watched a whole season of a TV on a video iPod once just because it was more convenient than a laptop.
  • no one is switching to BB for square... its a different look and gives them branding but that's it.

    The attractiveness of the choice is also debatable...

    But the real issue here is why go BB?

    Now, BB is a company that traditionally focused on business especially enterprise.

    Okay... what would be a winner in business?

    I'm thinking running linux on the phone might be pretty awesome. Another idea might be putting all the firmware on a removable SD card so the phones can be rapidly flashed to a new firmware very qui

    • These days it's all about BYOD in the enterprise. Blackberry was (and still is?) a leader when it comes to devices and a secure infrastructure geared for corporate use, but it's been ages since I have come across anyone still willing to carry 2 devices for personal and business use, now that we've given people access to their corporate email, calendar and address lists on their personal devices. A phone maker who wants to sell phones to businessmen needs to appeal to two markets: business use (including t
      • Isn't the blackphone even better?

      • Blackberry is strong in the area of business use, security, and the tools and infrastructure needed to manage these phones

        I've never owned or even played with a crackberry, so correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought RIM lost their security bragging rights when they dropped their drawers and bent over for India.

    • Nearly all the smartphones people are using have either Linux or BSD on them. Linux on a phone turns out to have been a great idea, but it's not a new idea.

  • Both the Q5 and Q10 phones already have square screens, although they're extremely small because both units have kept the physical keyboard and traditional rectangular shape.
  • How easily will it be to hold that in one hand for, you know, making phone calls? I'm jsut not seeing the innovation here. Now if this was a tablet being marketed with that ratio, then maybe I could see an argument. Just not a phone.
  • Rather than spreadsheet they should have shown the same website rendered on each device.

    Whenever on screen keyboard is enabled in landscape mode on my phone it consumes most of the screen leaving painfully very little space remaining to view content while tying. Portrait mode is better in this regard yet often difficult to manage panning around.

    I still prefer physical keyboards as they tend to take up less space than on screen when activated and those with big hands can actually use them with some degree o

    • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
      having spent the last ~5 years on BB, first a bold 9700 now a Q10, it absolutely is a phone for writing.
  • Two things stand out:

    How do you fit it into your front pocket? Maybe if you were overalls it'll fit into that massive chest pocket, but for regular jeans/slacks/pants, I doubt it.

    Sharp corners... if it already barely fits in your pocket sharp corners are going to make it even harder to get out.

    • by konaya ( 2617279 )

      How do you fit it into your front pocket?

      I suspect you don't. The size is about right for a handbag or a coat pocket, though. Not all people actually use their trouser pockets for anything.

  • "Sponge Bob Square Screen..."

  • But do they still manufacture phones? and somebody still buys them? wow!
  • saw the picture and they show a spreadsheet where the columns are typically more important than the rows and a lot of dead white space doing nothing

    forget the fact it looks like a junky kids toy

  • Just because developers don't have enough headaches to deal with, I'll go patent a circular screen with a polar coordinate system to access the pixels. :) And I'll find a way to stick 26 letter keys and 10 digit keys around it, and give it a shape that will make it fly as well as a frisbee too. Still not sure if to go overboard by making it squishy too so since it can fly when thrown your dog should be able to bring it back and have it still work.

    You heard it here first folks! :D

  • Actually, I find the design of new Passport to be really clever. It's for people who want to use a 7inch tablet as a phone, but who don't want to look like idiots holding a giant book against their face. By chopping off the bottom of a 7inch tablet, Blackberry created a device that has most of the benefits of a 7inch tablet while not sticking out awkwardly when you hold it to your ear. It's better than a 5inch phablet for browsing because it's wider. It's better than a 7inch tablet for phone calls because t
  • I'm not sure if 4.5"x4.5" would feel right but I could see a square phone that you hold at a point (ie speaker/receiver on the diagonal): since the majority of the time phones are used for something other than as a phone having symmetry and not even having to think which way you grab the device would be nice.

  • Oh Blackberry...what ever were you thinking? It looks like a phone and a tablet had a child. Too big for a phone, but too small for a functional tablet. Looks too big to comfortably fit in a pocket too. The screen will be full of wasted space. Apps have been designed to fit vertically or horizontally on a widescreen type device. Is anything designed for a square screen?

    There just seem to be so many misfires on this one. I applaud their effort for trying something different, but they don't rule the
  • How do you fit one of these things in your pocket? Looks too heavy for a lanyard.

    Do you just strap it to the back of your hand or something?
  • I mean those devices are sold as "business mobiles". Yet the keyboard lacks all important keys. For example there are no modifier keys and not even an "Escape" key.

    How are you supposed to use, for example Microsoft Word, on such a thing.

    • meh, you can put all the "non-querty" things on screen... 90% of the keyboard being physical is certainly different/better/more usable than 0% of the keyboard being physical.

      If I were designing my perfect phone, it would probably look a lot like this, but bigger and with even more of a keyboard, which is why nobody ever asked me to design a phone.

      I still miss my blackberry curve, and if I could have my 5.5 inch Galaxy Note screen size, Android KitKat, and a blackberry keyboard, I would trip over mysel
  • The square screen layout is not news (but it is problematic, with several websites breaking themselves out of spite or incompetence). The larger size got us a keyboard that looks simply too wide, not adding any of the keys we were missing; you could get used to that, but it has nothing to do with the primary problems. Blackberry used to sell on corporate support, working keyboards, and an integrated pointing device. As of the BB10 versions, it feels rather half-developed - that vaunted keyboard has markings

Beware of Programmers who carry screwdrivers. -- Leonard Brandwein