In a world of rectangular smart phones, BlackBerry introduces a 4.5″ square screened handset with a QWERTY keyboard

The Canadian mobile device maker frequently derided for lagging behind its competitors says it is breaking the smart phone mold with a new handset that screams “it’s hip to be square.”

In a blog post yesterday, BlackBerry Ltd. (TSE: BB) drew attention to the particular business-friendly features of a unique 4.5″ square screened, QWERTY keypad smart phone called Passport. The phone offers the same viewing space as a typical 5” display but provides a “better viewing experience” because it is wider, according to Inside BlackBerry writer Matt Young.

You might say this makes the Passport a business-class phablet or worse – the new PlayBook. Young describes it as something else.

“The Passport is like the IMAX of productivity and you don’t have to sacrifice screen real estate, vertically or horizontally,” he said.

The Passport’s size and form factor actually takes its inspiration from the dimensions of the travel document from which it takes its name.

Why did BlackBerry decide on this particular format?

Young said that based on academic typology the number of characters on a line in a book is 66 characters. The typical rectangular smart phone shows approximately 40 characters. The Passport will be able to show 60 characters on its 1440×1440 resolution display.

“BlackBerry Passport offers its size and aspect ratio to accommodate these characters, making it the ideal device for reading e-books and browsing the Web,” he said. “No more worrying about portrait of landscape modes and no you aren’t missing anything.”

Young envisions several use case scenarios for the Passport:

  • Helping architects and mortgage brokers view designs, floor plans and schematics on the go
  • Displaying x-rays and medical documents for healthcare workers while maintaining regulatory security and privacy standards
  • Providing enough screen real-estate for finance industry workers viewing spread sheets
  • Allowing writers to type faster with an actual keyboard

BlackBerry’s Q10, Q5 and Z30 models may have recently won the prestigious Red Dot Award for their high quality design, but company is still losing ground to iPhone and Android devices.

The Passport is one of the new devices the Waterloo, Ont.-based company is cranking out in an effort to win over users who have turned to iOS and Android.

The Passport is slated for official launch in London this September.

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