Even the person in the store I went to was taken aback. He wasn't sure that they had one to show me (they did) or if they had any in stock (they also did). He gently asked while I took a look at it if I'd seen Samsung's Galaxy Note 4, or the iPhone 6 plus, and whether I had been forced by my employer to get a Blackberry.
His reaction was pretty similar to most of the people I've met since: a cross between bemusement, excitement and disgust. Though of course, almost none of those people have actually used the Passport.
The truth is, it's a pretty solid phone. If you want to watch Frozen on the way to work, the Passport is not for you: there will be little black bars above and below the screen, regardless of whether you rotate the screen (which of course, looks weird with a physical keyboard). If you want to read emails, blogs, look at charts, and have basically never viewed a video on your phone it might just be an improvement on whatever you currently have.
In short, this is the normcore smartphone of 2014. It does a great deal of what any other smartphone released this year does, without some of the apps that you're (like me) not cool enough to use, and with a little bit of extra functionality for the things you use most of all.
There's very little issue (for me) in having half of the keyboard in physical form and half on the screen: numbers, the shift key and other characters pop up as necessary while you're typing. I think the viewing experience for reading is excellent. I'm a little slower at typing than I was before (I owned a Nexus), but I'm getting there.
You'll struggle to type one-handed if you've got hands as small as mine, but the other phablet-type phones out there are equally difficult. For say, scrolling through twitter, one hand is perfectly adequate.
There's a 13 mega-pixel OIS camera, as opposed to the iPhone 6 plus' 8 mega-pixels. It doesn't bend in your pocket (and the reduced length means it's actually not hard to carry it there). The Amazon app store is apparently a big improvement on previous Blackberry models: it's got a much more limited selection, but if you're not willing to give up Snapchat then you probably knew this phone wasn't for you already.
Blend, which brings up your communications Hub on any desktop computer, is excellent, and the battery is a dream. Even under heavy use, mine lasts for 24 hours. Here's how the Hub looks:
The phone feels like it will be perfect for people like me: People who need their phones to do a lot of work, a lot of email, a lot of reading and a lot of business stuff like PDFs. If iPhone and Android are social media tools, then the Passport is a work productivity tool. It's a great fit for people who currently have both a smartphone and a work Blackberry that they'd like to consolidate into one device.
Maybe it's not good if you're a tech person. I'm not a tech person, I'm a finance and economics person. There are a lot of us, and we need phones too.
That's really the point here: Blackberry's brand is now so incredibly damaged among a generation of people that even it came out with a great phone, you wouldn't know: you wouldn't buy it, and neither would any of your friends.
I reckon people won't consider it as an option, which is a massive shame, because I'm loving mine.