Porsche Design test drive

by Volker Weber

Porsche Design does not make cars. They sell other luxury products. Like the P'9981. And it's genius.

What's so cool about it? After all, it's only a BlackBerry 9900 Bold in a different package. Let's put that "only" in quotes. The 9900 is the best BlackBerry so far. The only thing it's missing is an autofocus camera, and the mobile hotspot which will be added with BlackBerry 7.1.

I am not going down the "is BlackBerry still relevant route". Let's just agree for now that it is. What's genius about the P'9981? The price. It's more expensive than any other current smartphone.

And it's a completely different package. Porsche Design does not sell a box with a crappy power supply with three snap-in adapters for different countries. The box comes with four different power supplies. All of them tiny. You don't buy a docking station. It's included.

This is the back. Looks like leather, right? That's because it is leather. Not some fake leather-like plastic. It smells like leather, it feels like leather. And that badge? Stainless steel. Not plastic made to look like stainless steel. Also not a thin metal veneer. The real thing.

Same goes for the keyboard. And the forged frame of the device. There is no cost cutting. It's expensive. And it's meant to be expensive. It has the same target audience as a mechanical wristwatch. There are way cheaper means to tell the time.

As hard as they tried, Porsche Design did not get everything right. The black keys between the touch screen and the keyboard feel cheap and I almost ripped one off when taking the phone out of the box. The top has too many logos: Porsche Design, BlackBerry, and then Vodafone, when the screen comes on.

The keys are somewhat smaller than on the BB 9900, but I am pretty sure I will get used to them rather quickly - and I swap phones around a lot. Somebody who will only use this device for months on end will not have difficulties adjusting.

That's it. The best BlackBerry, packaged as a luxury product. And expensive enough to be exclusive. Genius.

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Nice phone. And you weren't kidding when you said 'expensive'. Engadget's version in their review cost $2300.

Greg Walrath, 2012-03-28

The P'9981 makes it pretty clear that you are not carrying a company issued collar.

Volker Weber, 2012-03-28

Nice ride ;)...

Ingo Seifert, 2012-03-28

I love Gruber's quote on the device:

Easily the best-designed new phone of 2005.


Thomas Einwaller, 2012-03-28

Gruber only "gets" Apple-related stuff.

Volker Weber, 2012-03-28

yeah, but in some way he has a point

Thomas Einwaller, 2012-03-28

If you ask Gruber, there can only be iPhone. Phones have to be full touch, no keyboard, Apple owns that space, everybody copies them badly. Android is failing, yada, yada, yada. The guy is too predictable. And the world is more complicated than his view.

Volker Weber, 2012-03-28

you said "it's more expensive than any other smartphone".

That's wrong, you forgot the Vertu-branded Nokia E72 :-). And if somebody say that the porsche BB is 2005, what the hell is the vertu E72?

Karl Heindel, 2012-03-28

I can't work with a "Touch-only" device. Therefore I'm looking for my new BBerry. Unfortunately not this one!

Torben Volkmann, 2012-03-28

You should get what's inside: the 9900.

Volker Weber, 2012-03-28

The biggest difference between items like this and luxury watches is obsolescence. If I buy a watch for $2300 then after 10 years I still have a nice desirable watch. After 20 years I still have a nice desirable watch. With a phone, after 2 years, I'm going to want to replace it, and no-one is going to wan to buy it from me.

It's about the value proposition. $2300 for something you will enjoy for a lifetime vs $2300 for something you will enjoy for a couple of years.

Kerr Rainey, 2012-03-29

Indeed. You are quite right. That's where the anlogy breaks.

I call that the Leica Digicam problem. A Leica M3 is still good after 30 years. A 10 year old M9 will be obsolete. It already is, if you look at the screen.

Anyway, you are not rich enough. But you already new that. :-)

Volker Weber, 2012-03-29

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