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BlackBerry makes its case for a square (!) phone

BlackBerry makes its case for a square (!) phone

Is it really hip to be square? Maybe not, but BlackBerry feels that it's far more productive than a rectangular phone.

BlackBerry is betting its future on a square phone.

BlackBerry is betting its future on a square phone.

The [BlackBerry] Passport, the company's upcoming square - yes, square phone - is "like the IMAX of productivity", according to the company.

No, that's no typo. BlackBerry is betting its future on a square phone, and the company laid out the reasons why in a blog post this week.

With just 2.6 million phones sold last quarter, most pundits have written off BlackBerry for dead. With developers turning to iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, BlackBerry recently turned to emulated Android apps as one of the pontoons that will keep the company afloat. But an aggressive hardware design will apparently be another option.

The BlackBerry Passport will features a 4.5-inch square screen, with a squished, hardware keyboard tucked below. BlackBerry hasn't yet announced a price or a ship date. It has, however, rolled out the rhetoric.

"Consider how IMAX screens start with a more traditional 16:9 aspect ratio projection for conventional movie trailers and then expand to their true dimensions (and the audience goes, "ooh")," Matt Young, a blogger writing for BlackBerry, said in a blog post on the BlackBerry site. "The Passport is like the IMAX of productivity, and you don't have to sacrifice screen real estate, vertically or horizontally."

Young went on to note that the optimal number of characters on a line in a book is 66 characters, versus the 40 usually shown by smartphones. The Passport will apparently show 60, although that could presumably be adjusted by shrinking the text size. And eliminating the rectangular form factor will also eliminate landscape and portrait viewing modes.  Architects, writers, and doctors will benefit from the wider screen, he wrote.

It's unclear, however, whether anyone cares enough about a square display to bet their future on a platform with so many problems. And, to boot, it's just plain ugly. Could the Passport be the ticket to BlackBerry's revival? It doesn't look likely.

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