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What's the Latest With BlackBerry? Passport, Classic, OS Update

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By William Peacock, Esq. on November 06, 2014 8:30 AM

We don't give BlackBerry nearly as much attention as the other guys, in large part because almost nobody uses a BlackBerry anymore. Nonetheless, the company's CEO John Chen reassured the world that they are "still in the phone business."

OK, but what exactly does that mean? How about a new flagship phone: the Passport, which we've mentioned before. And the modern take on a throw-back design, the Classic, which is set for release next month. And, like everybody else, an update to their operating system.

Yep, they're still around. And if you love your QWERTY keyboard phones, keep reading:

Passport: Positive Reviews, High Price Tag

This is the phone that has everyone talking, mostly because of its huge size and square-shaped screen. The Passport is a phablet that is somehow wider than Apple and Samsung's phablets (the iPhone 6 Plus and Note 4, respectively), even though it only has a 4.5-inch screen, because of its unusual shape.

We don't have $600 to drop on one for the sake of a review, but the major and minor tech sites all seem to agree: damn good phone, with good battery life, that is impossible to use with one hand (duh) and still has a shortage of apps (duh).

Bottom line: This behemoth is BlackBerry's new flagship. It adds a couple of cool features (QWERTY keyboard that is, itself, touch-sensitive like a trackpad) to top-of-the-line specs and fewer worries about data mining (hey Google!).

Classic: Your Old Phone, but Newer

The phone most diehard BlackBerry fans will be excited about is next month's Classic. It's more "normal" sized and it brings back the classic BlackBerry "belt" of keys and track pad from the old Bold models, plus, of course, the QWERTY.

Bottom line: It's your old-school BlackBerry mated with a modern operating system and touchscreen. We can't wait!

BB OS 10.3: Incremental Update

iOS 7 brought a flat appearance to iPhones. Google has been slowly moving that way and will jump to a whole new flat design language with Android 5.0 (Lollipop). BB OS 10.3 does the same for BlackBerry.

It also brings a beefed up (though still lagging) virtual assistant and improved compatibility with Android apps. The big key is the inclusion of the Amazon Android App store, an app marketplace that is not as robust as even Windows' store (and nobody uses Windows phones), but definitely makes up for BlackBerry World's barren shelves. Snap, a third-party Google Play client, can also import your apps from Google's main store.

Bottom line: It looks better, it should run Android apps smoother, and BlackBerry, as always, is a heck of a lot better for messaging and security than the alternatives. Just don't expect to have a wide range of fitness, music, video, and games at your disposal. OS 10.3 ships on the new Passport and will be released for other models soon.

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