Originally published on the Inside BlackBerry blog.
Building on my Q&A last month with the design team at BlackBerry, we filmed a session where they walk through how they developed the BlackBerry Passport. View it below to get a feel for the careful consideration that went into every aspect of this smartphone – built with the professional user in mind.
Below is an excerpt from our recent press release that perfectly captures our goals:
Thoughtful Design for the Mobile Professional
Inspired by actual passports, the universal symbol of mobility, the size and form factor of BlackBerry Passport is portable enough to easily tuck into pockets and use wherever you go. Utilizing premium, robust materials such as Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3 for the display and forged stainless steel for added strength, BlackBerry Passport will provide the durability business professionals require in a smartphone.
We’ve already covered how the large square touchscreen is designed to enable serious mobile productivity. You can create and view content in new and innovative ways while remaining productive while on the go. The design and engineering teams at BlackBerry have also brought the industry’s first touch-enabled keyboard with gestures that make typing, editing and navigating more efficient and accurate.
Our customers have long used BlackBerry keyboards to create polished, professional communications with exceptional accuracy. BlackBerry Passport’s new QWERTY keyboard is almost four times more accurate than BlackBerry 10 virtual keyboards – which are already best-in-class among touchscreen keyboards. So there are fewer typos to get in the way of what you want to say.
Early sketches and renderings clearly show the care that was placed on designing a portable device that remains distinctly BlackBerry. The result is a design that can turbocharge the productivity of users that are open to the new. The form factor, like the namesake that inspired it, is universal, pocketable, familiar. These images also display many of the new innovations as they evolved throughout the process. The I-beam construction, inspired by modernist architecture, helps with strength and durability, but also acts as the antenna for the device.
I spoke briefly with BlackBerry’s Joseph Hofer, Brian Paschke and Alison Phillips to ask them about their favorite design feature on the BlackBerry Passport. It was hard for them each to nail down just one, but here are their responses . . . just for you Inside BlackBerry readers.
Alison Phillips on the BlackBerry Passport:
“We approached the design in a new way, focusing on creating a product that was completely original yet purposeful.
When travelling around the world and sharing early iterations of the Passport design to users, key customers and partners – reaction to the device was universal. Surprise, followed by intrigue and then interest.
There are many features that delight users when they discover the device, but it is the sum of these features across both hardware and software, that in combination just work together. This, the result of many talented creative, technical, and business minds at work. I personally love how the product feels when I hold it – the quality and materiality. I also appreciate that I can confidently review drawings and presentations without having to lug my laptop.
The Passport represents the coming together of design thinking across all areas of the organization with passion, innovation and in service to the user. This is what I appreciate most.”
Joseph Hofer shares his favorite BlackBerry Passport elements:
“’Creativity plus risk equals reward.’ This saying sums up best how I feel upon reflecting on the past months of design development and product realization of the BlackBerry Passport.
The form factor and user input method is surprisingly new, yet is somehow familiar. The technical teams innovated and brought forward their best, attempting to outdo themselves, and it shows. The business embraced the idea as a new strategy for BlackBerry device design and allowed it to mature into a new expression of the brand.
The feature I appreciate most (if I had to pick just one) is the stainless steel I-beam frame. Not only as the celebration of construction, but as well in the usefulness of strengthening the product and integrating into the overall antenna system. It’s honest in materiality, without the need for coatings. Simple to the eye, it’s complex in function and meaning. “
Brian Paschke on the inspiration and innovation behind the BlackBerry Passport:
“My parents were goldsmiths, one from Germany and one from Canada. Growing up around ‘the making of things’ has really influenced how I see the world. Through details, beauty, construction and efficiencies. For me, the Stainless Steel frame of the BlackBerry Passport has all these qualities. It acts as structure – part of the RF antenna – as well as organizes and harmonizes all of the details such as the microphone, buttons and connectors. The result is something quite unique. To make this happen, it was a real pleasure to visit the factories to check progress as well as to see the designers and engineers push each other to make the frame a reality.”