BlackBerry’s new phone priced at $599

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BlackBerry’s latest square-screen smartphone is about to hit the market, and it boasts a lower price than its rivals.

In an interview, BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen said the Passport smartphone would be available in the US for $599. However, the new smartphone will be priced differently in other countries based on tariffs and taxes.

Compared with similar handsets manufactured by its competitors, the price of the Passport should be close to $700, said Chen. “But I figure that to try to get the market interested, we’re going to start a little lower than that.”

Apple’s new iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6 start at $749 and $649 respectively without a contract, while Samsung’s Galaxy S5 sells for around $650 depending on the carrier.

The release of the 4.5-inch smartphone will be the company’s first global launch since its BlackBerry 10 phones flopped last year.

While the Canadian company has not divulged any details about the phone’s features, Chen said the Passport’s larger screen and high resolution will enable users to see 60 characters on every line, which is significantly more than the number seen on rectangular phones like the iPhone.

Chen added that the new smartphone also comes with a battery that can last 36 hours, a large antenna to benefit reception, and a keyboard that can be used to scroll through content.

BlackBerry revealed that the new phone would be launched simultaneously in London, Dubai and Toronto.

Meanwhile, analysts are sceptical as to whether the new phone can help BlackBerry turn its fortunes around.

Daniel Pang, a researcher with IDC Malaysia, notes that although the Passport is a good phone, “it will never really hit the mainstream as a premium offering.”

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