BlackBerry Passport and Fitbit Surge: Productivity over bling

There are a number of amazing new smartphones and wearable products, but these devices - and the bells and whistles they deliver - can cause us to lose focus on what's really important to have.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
There are some amazing phones, check out my top 10 list, and cool wearables available today, but I can't help putting my T-Mobile SIM back into my BlackBerry Passport while connecting it with the Fitbit Surge to maintain my productivity and carry on my tasks for more than a day without worry.

I'm as guilty as other reviewers when looking at the latest and greatest smartphones in 2015 with a focus on camera performance. It's wonderful to have a fantastic camera at your fingertips, but the camera seems to be dominating too much of the conversation lately.

My BlackBerry Passport, and for that matter most smartphones released in 2014, have cameras good enough for sharing on social networks. People rarely print photos anymore and I honestly will try to get away from emphasizing camera performance as the distinguishing factor on smartphones.

Phones are designed primarily as communication devices and in that regard it is tough to beat the BlackBerry Passport. Whenever I show people what it can do they are instantly impressed, but the general public still seems to focus on the shiniest object. I urge ZDNet readers to take an honest look at their needs and seriously consider the BlackBerry Passport or other BlackBerry 10 devices.

BlackBerry Passport

A couple of months ago I posted an article about how my BlackBerry Passport continues to serve an important role in my device collection. I actually sold my original black Passport on Swappa and replaced it with a red BlackBerry Passport. While I like the soft touch shell on the black model, I enjoy the distinctive red color with black highlights on this new one.

While the LG G4 will just about get me through a full day, the HTC One M9 and Samsung Galaxy S6 can't make it through one of my days without getting topped off. While these devices have support for fast charging via the Quick Charge 2.0 technology, nothing beats having a phone with a battery that seems to last forever. My 3,450 mAh Passport battery easily gets me through a full day, even lasting longer than my big old iPhone 6 Plus. There's a lot to like in battery peace of mind.

The BlackBerry Passport is a communications powerhouse and I'm still not convinced the rumored strategy of rolling out BlackBerry Hub to iOS and Android is a smart move. Nothing beats the centralized communcations center of BlackBerry Hub and when I am on my Passport everyone knows I won't miss their latest communication.

Since I am an engineer and spend about six hours a day on a PC cranking away on calculations and reports, having the BlackBerry Blend dashboard positioned off on a corner of my second screen means I won't miss email, BBM, text messages, or appointments. No matter which third party service I try on Android (I don't have a Mac to use Handoff), nothing beats the centralized solution of BlackBerry Blend.

Thanks to Amazon, BlackBerry, and Snap, I am not lacking any essential application on my BlackBerry Passport. Shoot, I even have all the games I want on the device to pass time as well.

Fitbit Surge

Much of my focus here on ZDNet lately has been on the newest, shiniest product, the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch is an excellent wearable, but it is limited to just iPhone owners at this time. There are other wearables that don't distract as much as the Apple Watch while also serving to support improvements in activity while connecting with multiple platforms.

Fitbit is the Kleenex of daily activity trackers and the Fitbit Surge gets better every month. After sideloading Snap and installing the Fitbit Android application, I am able to use about 95% of the Fitbit Surge functionality on the BlackBerry Passport.

The Fitbit Surge lasts me a week, supports GPS navigation without a connected phone, and serves as a fantastic daily activity tracker with a huge network of family and friends that challenge me daily to do better. The Fitbit Surge is comfortable, does a decent job of continuous heart rate monitoring, and supports my running and cycling routines.

It is unlikely that we will ever see a native BlackBerry wearable device, but through Android support we are able to use devices like the Fitbit.

I'm getting a bit tired of the flashy stuff, and am pleased to go back to what just works with the BlackBerry Passport and Fitbit Surge.

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