BlackBerry recently started shipping its new Passport smartphone to customers who preordered it. Though the Passport was unveiled months ago, the company just released it for sale in late September via its online store and Amazon.com. It quickly sold out. As of this writing, it’s still not available on ShopBlackBerry.com, and the Passport is selling for $800 or more on Amazon.
BlackBerry says it received more than 200,000 Passport preorders in the days following its release. Based largely on the new smartphone’s “extremely good” reception, CEO John Chen predicted the struggling company could reach profitability by mid-year 2015.
I’ve had my BlackBerry Passport for a few weeks now, and I published my initial thoughts the same day the device was officially released. When BlackBerry provided my Passport review unit, it also gave me a 30-page reviewer’s guide to walk me through the ins and outs of the device. The guide is packed with valuable information, including a ton of tips and tricks, which I’ve detailed below.
Rather than reword BlackBerry’s tips and claim them as my own, I’ve copied the most interesting Passport tips and tricks from the guide, word for word, and provided comments and clarification where appropriate.
Anything in quotations is directly from BlackBerry. Everything in italics or brackets is from me.
BlackBerry Passport Keyboard Tips and Tricks
1) “Hitting the backspace key [while already working with text] will delete one letter at a time. A long press deletes characters faster. If you want to delete an entire word, make a short quick swipe from right to left across the surface of the keyboard.”
2) “Long pressing on a particular key will automatically capitalize the letter. If you hold on the key a little longer, the key’s extended character set will pop up. For example, if you hold on the letter ‘R’ it will show you the symbol for a registered trademark. Tap to select an extended character.”
3) “Instead of tapping on the ‘@123’ button [on the virtual keyboard] to access additional characters, you can simply swipe down along the keyboard. When you swipe on the keyboard, the virtual keys also show the associated letter from the keyboard, so you can select it from the keyboard (or tap the virtual key).”
4) “To invoke Voice Control (part of the new BlackBerry Assistant), long press the virtual comma key (you’ll see a grayed out microphone) or the Play/Pause button on the side of the smartphone.”
5) “When you select text, the copy and paste menu pops up. You can drag the anchor points to select a wider range of text. A long press on a word will highlight the word first, then the sentence, then the paragraph, and so on.”
6) “When composing a message, you can quickly select text using a ‘running Shift.’ Place the cursor at the start point of the text you want to highlight, then hold the keyboard’s (virtual) Shift key and drag or slide the circle to your desired end point.”
7) “To set a [text] insertion point [in or at the end of an existing sentence], double tap on the BlackBerry Passport keyboard, then slide your finger across the surface of the keyboard to your desired end point.”
8) “Tap the arrow [at the sides of the on-screen circular cursor] to move the cursor one character at a time or slide your finger across the keyboard.”
BlackBerry Passport Hub Tips and Tricks
9) “If you’re reading an email, you can peek back into the Hub by sliding your thumb to the right. You can immediately jump to the next message by pressing the letter ‘N’ (for next) on the keyboard. You can also set the Next/Previous overlays in the Hub settings. The overlays appear in the bottom right corner of an open email.”
10) When composing a message, “you can select to send from any account. Swipe down anywhere in the fillable area and tap the dropdown menu to select another account.”
11) When you attach an image to a message, you can send it as a smaller size to save on data usage. To enable (or disable) the option, tap the three vertical dots in the bottom right corner of your Hub and choose Settings from the menu that appears on the right side of your display. Next, tap Display and Actions, and scroll down until you see the Prompt for Email Image Resize option.
12) “You can set [your device] to only delete messages that are on the device, both your mail server and the Hub, or to prompt you [before deletion].” Again, tap the three vertical dots at in the bottom right corner of your Hub and choose Settings from the menu that appears on the right side of your display. Next, tap Display and Actions, and scroll down until you see the Delete On dropdown menu.
13) “You can reset the BlackBerry Hub by making five short quick swipes from the top right corner of the display [while you’re in your Hub].”
BlackBerry Passport Browser Tips and Tricks
14) “Switch to Desktop Mode for an impressive desktop-like experience that displays more content. In the bottom right hand corner of the Browser screen click on the More menu (three dots), select Settings then Developer Tools, set Desktop Mode to the ‘on’ position and reload the Web page.”
15) “Select Reader to launch a convenient reading mode. You can adjust the font size, search for text on the page and invert the display colors between white on black and black on white…In Reader mode, the menu bar at the bottom of the display automatically hides when you start scrolling down the page to give you a longer viewing area, and reappears when you scroll up.”
To enable Reader mode for a specific page, tap the three vertical dots in the bottom right corner of your browser screen, while you’re on the page you want to read, and choose Reader. Adjust Reader setting using the icons at the base of your display.
16) “Rotate the BlackBerry Passport to one side and use the touch-enabled keyboard vertically to scroll Web pages. To quickly navigate press ‘T’ to jump to the top of a page and ‘P’ to jump back to the previous page.”
17) “You can highlight a word and search it on the Internet from the pop-up [that appears on screen].”
18) The Passport browser has a private browsing option. To enable private browsing, tap the three vertical dots in the bottom right corner of your browser screen and choose Settings. Next, tap Privacy and Security and flip the Private Browsing option into the On position.
19) “If there’s a website you visit often, save the bookmark to the Home Screen as an icon.” To add a website bookmark icon to your home screen, tap the three vertical dots in the bottom right corner of your browser screen, while you’re on the page you want to add to your home screen, and choose Add to Home Screen.
BlackBerry Passport Camera and Image Tips
20) “You can depress either of the Volume keys to snap a picture, instead of tapping on the camera icon. You can [also] press the space bar to snap a picture.”
21) “You can zoom the camera in and out with a two-finger pinch [of the display]. A progress bar indicates the zoom level.”
22) If you modify any of the camera’s default settings, an icon representing the changes shows up in the upper left corner of your camera screen. You can tap the icon at any time to return to the default settings.
23) “You can use BlackBerry Blend (BlackBerry’s new desktop software for the Passport) to move pictures between your device and computer.”
General BlackBerry Passport Tips and Tricks
24) To take a screen shot of your Passport’s display and then save it to your Pictures library, simultaneously press and hold the volume up and down buttons until you see a pop-up confirming that the screen shot was saved.
25) The BlackBerry Passport is the first BlackBerry that ships with Amazon’s Android App Store preinstalled. The store gives Passport users access to more than 200,000 Android apps, but because the apps aren’t designed to fit the Passport’s square display, some look awkward and distorted.
“If an Android app does not display properly on the BlackBerry Passport smartphone, you can swipe down from the top of the display to access the Zoom button. You can Zoom the app’s display out [using the Zoom option].”
26) The Passport has an FM radio built into its Music app, and it uses your headphones as an antennae. To listen to your favorite FM radio station, just plug in your earbuds, launch the Music app and tap the three horizontal lines in the app’s bottom left corner. You’ll see an option for Radio. If you tap it, you see a list of local radio stations. You can also search for specific stations and mark stations as favorites.
27) “Universal Search keeps a history of your recent searches, ordered by the most common searches. If you often search for an app, it will appear on the grid, allowing you to use the Search function as a quick app launcher.”
28) When you’re within the BlackBerry Assistant app, “[s]wipe down from the top of the display to get the BlackBerry Assistant settings.”
29) “You can customize what appears on the [Passport’s main] drop down Settings menu, [which appears when you drag downward from the top of your display with two fingers], in Quick Settings. Select the items you want to appear and rearrange them.” You can find the Quick Settings Menu by tapping the Setting option in the drop down and selecting Quick Settings.
“Customers that are connected on BES10 can switch between their Personal and Work profiles from the Quick Settings menu.”
30) “To set different notifications for different contacts, go to the Contacts app, select the contact to edit, scroll to the bottom of the display and select Ring Tone and Notifications.”
31) “You can quickly enable Vibrate or Silent mode, by bringing the volume all the way down, then pressing the key once more. Reverse the steps to return to your previous mode. Set the Media Volume switch OFF.”
32) “Set up Reply Now in the Phone app Setting. Launch the Phone and swipe down from the top of the display to get the settings.” Reply Now lets the BlackBerry OS determine the best way to reply to messages when you’re busy (text, BBM or email) based on your previous interactions with that contact.
Visit BlackBerry.com for more information on the new BlackBerry Passport smartphone.