BlackBerry tries to justify the square shape of its next big smartphone

BlackBerry Passport next to some older rivals

If you're anything like us, your reaction to the unveiling of BlackBerry's upcoming Passport smartphone probably involved a few choice expletives -- why the hell would you ship such a blocky device in 2014? Thankfully, the company is more than happy to explain in a new blog post. It argues that the rectangular shape of most smartphones is fine for video and quick chats, but lousy for work. The Passport's square screen may look odd, but it's supposedly ideal for reading documents; you won't have to scroll quite so much when checking out a spreadsheet or writing a magnum opus. Logically, that hardware keyboard also keeps the interface out of the way as much as possible.

They're interesting ideas, and the unusual form factor might just work for BlackBerry's suit-and-tie audience. Having said this, extra-wide smartphones have rarely fared well in a market that currently favors tall designs; LG's Vu series (aka Intuition) hasn't had much of an audience outside of its native South Korea, and the Pantech Pocket quickly fizzled out. The crew in Waterloo may have to do a lot more than write a brief explainer to get people ditching rival devices that are gentler on their hands and pockets.