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New BlackBerry smartphone to be priced lower than competitors

BlackBerry CEO John Chen shows off the new Passport (left) and Classic phone models after the company's Annual General Meeting in Waterloo, Ont., Thursday June 19, 2014.
BlackBerry CEO John Chen shows off the new Passport (left) and Classic phone models after the company's Annual General Meeting in Waterloo, Ont., Thursday June 19, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley

TORONTO – BlackBerry is bringing its newest Passport smartphone to the market with a price that’s lower than Apple’s iPhone 6 and the latest incarnation of the Samsung Galaxy.

Units of the phone will sell for US$599 without a wireless carrier contract in the U.S., about $50 to $250 cheaper than various models of the iPhone 6 and Samsung’s Galaxy S5 currently on shelves.

The price is a strategic move that could give BlackBerry an advantage as it works to secure large orders of the device from corporate customers and plans to sell the phone at wireless stores. Canadian prices for the BlackBerry Passport haven’t been officially released.

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The Passport has a square screen that measures 4.5 inches and a keyboard that’s similar to the most popular BlackBerry models. The wider screen fits 60 characters on each line, which is more than comparable devices and closer to reading a book.

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Most details are being kept quiet until the official unveiling, which is expected to happen on Wednesday, during a multi-city media event in Toronto, Dubai and London.

Global News tech reporter Nicole Bogart will have live coverage of the event.

The Passport marks the first entirely new BlackBerry device to hit shelves since chief executive John Chen joined the company nearly a year ago in an effort to turn around the struggling business.

Before he joined BlackBerry, Chen led a turnaround at software company Sybase, which faced its own identity crisis and financial problems before he helped make it a profitable operation focused on mobile business technology.

BlackBerry is scheduled to report its second-quarter financial results on Friday.

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Meanwhile, sales of Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models have been brisk over the three days since it went on sale.

Apple said it sold more than 10 million units of the new phone, which marks a record for the company. Last year, it sold 9 million of iPhone 5C and 5S models after they had just been released.

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