This is probably not the best way to make a comeback. BlackBerry's new square phone, the Passport, boasts a, well, unique design. Unlike just about every cell phone ever, it is not rectangular. It's square. Exciting, right? It was only a matter of time before people got sick of colored phones and trendy Hello Kitty cases and the industry started moving in the shape direction. What's next, circular phones? Maybe stars or rhombi?
But before the phone's sexy square design makes you want to run out and buy it, let's quickly discuss the merits of a rectangular phone. First, with the exception of some of those Android phones so large the look like they would only fit in the lower-leg pockets of a teenage boy's cargo shorts, rectangular phones fit nicely in the hand. It's almost too easy to prop them between your ear and your shoulder while you Facebook stalk. And sometimes — less so for women than for men — you can slip them into your pocket, where they're relatively unobtrusive. Or you can at least put them in the pocket some purses have that's more or less designed for the cell phone.
Not so the Passport, which is both literally and figuratively super edgy.
In a blog post, BlackBerry's Matt Young writes (although not in quite so many words) that the company is breaking free of the rectangular shackles that bind it in an attempt to slay the geometry overlords once and for all.
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.
Is this perhaps true? Maybe. Is it probably true? No.
The post goes on to list the awesome, edgy phone's slick specs, like its 1400 by (you guessed it) 1400 resolution screen. The company says the added screen real estate will make certain activities easier, like reading a book or, for health professionals, looking at an X-ray. Alternatively, you could always get an e-reader or a tablet for that stuff. (Get a tablet for that stuff.)
Seriously, whatever happened to the simple, the beautiful, the rectangular BlackBerry brick? There were things we actually liked about that phone, you know. In the early to mid-aughts.
People have been portending the death of BlackBerry for years, though it has miraculously survived thanks to a certain ubiquity it enjoys among some clients (like the federal government). It's considered a more secure device than competitors.
But we're not so sure the Passport is BlackBerry's savior among regular consumers. Here's another of its virtues, according to the company's post:
When you are looking to type stories or notes, your virtual keyboard doesn’t cover most of your screen.
That's an interesting argument, but typing on a square phone sounds reaaaally awkward. Where do you put your hand to support the phone so your thumb can do the typing? Are you just supposed to type on a table? File that one under "important questions" BlackBerry engineers could've asked before they decided to go square on us.