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BlackBerry Passport to retail in US for $599 off-contract

BlackBerry's unconventional smartphone will cost less than other high-end devices like the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6.

blackberry-passport02.jpg
Anything but conventional, the BlackBerry Passport features a 4.5-inch square display. Roger Cheng/CNET

BlackBerry is looking to undercut top-tier competitors with its unusually shaped Passport smartphone.

The embattled smartphone manufacturer plans to sell the device at an unsubsidized price of $599, CEO John Chen confirmed to the Wall Street Journal. CNET confirmed the off-contract pricing for the US.

In comparison, the Apple iPhone 6 starts at $650 without a wireless contract, and the Samsung Galaxy S5 launched with an unsubsidized price of $650 as well. Bigger phones such as the iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy Note 4 typically cost $100 more.

BlackBerry has a lot riding on the Passport, which marks a new chapter in the struggling company's plans to turn itself around. It will hold launch events in Toronto, London and Dubai in September to unveil the device. Chen told the Journal that the phone would appear immediately at some stores, with more locations in two weeks.

Designed with business professionals in mind, BlackBerry's latest effort offers users a massive, if not squat, look.

The Passport, which is the second BlackBerry device to launch this year, features a 4.5-inch square display and runs BlackBerry OS 10.3.

The display rests above a three-row keyboard and promises up to 60 characters per line. Under the hood we find a 3,450mAh battery which BlackBerry pegs at 36 hours of usage.

The $600 price tag should also appeal to enterprise users or those who need to buy a fleet of devices. BlackBerry hopes the Passport might steer buyers away from the Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus.