I’m an iPhone user that survived for a week with BlackBerry Passport (almost)

I want to start by saying, the Blackberry Passport itself was not a bad smart phone. It did its job, it didn’t crash, the battery lasted up to three days per charge for me. What it didn’t do was make my life easier.

I’m a happy iPhone 6S+ user. I’ve been on an iPhone since the 3GS in Canada, and have also tried every flagship phone – Android, Windows, and Blackberry – that ever comes off a production line and makes it into the ITWC offices. End of the day, I prefer the iPhone for many reasons, but that is a whole other blog.

The only reason I tried the Passport was because Brian Jackson borrowed my iPhone 6S+ for an upcoming article comparing current smartphones. I always thought I’d love a BlackBerry, turns out even if I want to embrace it, it’s not for me.


Apps exist, believe it or not, in the BlackBerry World app store, but what I learned I took for granted with iOS (and Android), most of the free apps that I love. When I looked for similar apps on BlackBerry World, I discovered they wanted a whole dollar out of me, and I just wasn’t willing to part way with my money, knowing I’d only be using it for a week.

But that was only when the apps were available, many were not.

Mailbox (mailboxapp)
This is how I handle email on my phone, tablet and laptop. I love this app, it lets me swipe away stuff (with a swipe on my trackpad or touch screens). It lets me keep an almost-zero inbox, and more importantly treat my email as tasks, not the drivel that email usually is.  That said, Dropbox has nixed this app and it will be shut off in 70+ days, so I’ll have to learn to do without it on iOS as well.

Sunrise Calendar (
This is my be all end all calendar. It lets me bring in all the calendars that matter to me – my personal, kids, wife, work, and my side gig. And, it works on all platforms, and just plain works. Its killer feature is that I can select a bunch of availability, and it generates a link I can send people to select a best time to meet and puts it into our calendars. The amount of email back and forth I save is amazing.

I found the native BlackBerry calendar was able to pull in my calendars, but that it showed me every calendar that has ever been shared with me as well was information overload.

Wunderlist (

It is awesome. There’s a few others that are good, its the one I like… and on all devices. I finally found it in the Amazon App store, but had to live without for a few days. But this goes to a complaint I’ve had with Blackberry in general, Apps! The Amazon workaround works I guess, and the new Priv with it being native Android should negate these complaints – but for all Passport users out there, it would be nice having apps native in BB10.

Tech tools..

  • Pingdom – it lets me know when things are down, but there wasn’t an app for the Passport.
  • Remote Desktop – I didn’t want to use it on the square screen, it wasn’t productive in that sense.
  • 1 Password – that’s where I store my passwords, I didn’t have my passwords – not cool.

General functionality

Phone calls everywhere – I have been very used to having my iPad and laptop ring when my phone rings, or making calls from my laptop.

Text messages everywhere – again, got very used to doing my texting from my laptop instead of on the phone. Blackberry Blend is supposed to do this, but I didn’t stumble upon Blend until my last day with the Passport.

Keyboard – I used to swear up and down that I missed a physical keyboard. Having one on the Passport, I realized, I’ve gotten really good at swiping instead of typing (with Swiftkey). With swiping and predictive words, the need for the physical keyboard has disappeared for me.

Fun apps

Instagram – I like instagram, I like taking photos, sharing them and getting ideas from other people’s photos. I couldn’t do that on the Passport.

Photos – I’ve had access to every photo I’ve ever taken since the iOS 9 beta early in the year, and I’m used to it. With Google Photos as a backup. Not knowing with certainty that the photos I took were getting backed up somewhere was a bit unnerving. Anyone who knows me knows my criteria number 1 for a smartphone is the camera and photo processing. I judge not by the number of megapixels, but how quickly a clear photo is taken as a kid runs by.

Music, Videos and Podcasts – to not have my entire music library at my fingertips was insane! I’ve also been on Apple Music since its beta and have grown accustomed to it. Spotify is great, but I listen to a lot of Tamil and Hindi music, which Apple is full of, Spotify – not so much. I found a podcast app, but I’ve been accustomed to my podcasts being in sync (thank you Downcast) across all my devices and just picking up where I left off anywhere.

My assistant  “Hello Siri” has been a saviour to me in the car. She reads me the last email I got, takes my reply and sends it off. Same for text messages, phone calls and she’ll play the song or playlist I want with a simple voice command.

The lack of functionality made me use the smartphone less. I started paying attention at meetings, and wasn’t tempted to ignore my family and friends in social gatherings. Instead of viewing websites and watching videos at night, I actually read a book.

But these habits only lasted until the sixth day of my week on the BlackBerry Passport. That’s when I opened up a drawer and grabbed an iPhone 5. It might have a broken power button, volume buttons, and a slightly cracked screen but at least I can go back to being productive on my smartphone.

Mat Pancha
Mat Pancha
Mat Panchalingam is Sr. Director of IT & Operations at ITWC.

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