For years, BlackBerry tried to fight the iPhone, but that was a battle it brutally lost. Now it's leaving that fight behind and going back to its roots: making tools for getting work done. The ideal BlackBerry user doesn't have time to play games, doesn't have time to send Snapchats and doesn't have time for any nonsense. This person only has time for business. BlackBerry actually has a name for these people: "Power Pros." The Passport is for Power Pros.
The device is comparable in size to a Canadian passport, a point which Chen demonstrated by placing the phone against the government-issued identification booklet. It has a square screen that measures 11.4 cm (4.5 inches) diagonally and a keyboard the company said is four times more accurate for the user than the phone's competitors.
The Passport comes to market as the phones of BlackBerry's rivals converge on a single profile, with tall, rectangular screens and smooth corners. Users can type on the Passport's keyboard to enter text, or swipe lightly across it to navigate through the phone.
"BlackBerry is still fighting for survival. They still need to turn around and develop a viable ongoing business model," said Brian Colello, analyst at US investment firm Morningstar.
At the Toronto event Chen brought out retired National Hockey League star Wayne Gretzky to talk up the Passport's features. The device has a suggested introductory retail price of $599 (£367) in the United States.
BlackBerry said the new smartphone should be available in more than 30 countries by the end of the year. It will be carried by AT&T in the United States.
Passport users will be able to download apps from Amazon's app store, previously only available for Android-based phones. BlackBerry announced the deal that cleared the way for its customers to access Amazon's store in June.
The display has a native resolution of 1440x1440 pixels (453 dpi) and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Speaking at the official Passport launch event in London, BlackBerry COO Marty Beard claimed that the new "disruptive" device was specifically designed to improve productivity and communication among mobile professionals.
In terms of battery life, the Passport is packing a massive 3450 mAh battery which should be more than enough for a full day of use. If BlackBerry can be believed, the battery is capable of providing up to 30 hours of "mixed" use between charges.
The BlackBerry Passport is available starting Wednesday for $699 without a contract. Telus is offering the device for $200 on a two-year contract until Sept. 30 and Bell customers can pre-order the device now for $299 on a two-year contract.