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BlackBerry Passport clears global customs this Wednesday

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BlackBerry Passport clears global customs this Wednesday

To paraphrase The Beatles, BlackBerry has a ticket to ride this week, and they don't seem to care if US carriers are on board with those plans or not as the onetime Canadian smartphone giant thinks square for its latest handset.

The Wall Street Journal today reported that BlackBerry Ltd. plans to launch its latest smartphone this Wednesday, that bizarre 4.5-inch square known as Passport, which will sell without carrier subsidies for $599 (about UKú366, AU$676).

BlackBerry Chief Executive Officer John Chen figures that's a bargain compared to hot new smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 or Apple's iPhone 6, which can be purchased in the US off-contract for as little as $649 (about UKú397, AU$732).

Passport marks BlackBerry's first global launch for a handset since the ill-fated arrival of BlackBerry 10 last year, during which time rumors of a uniquely shaped smartphone with the company's classic physical keyboard in tow first began to surface.

Aiming for enterprise

Chen claims Passport, which is being marketed more to BlackBerry's traditional enterprise crowd than consumers, will offer battery life of 36 hours, plus a "large antenna" capable of better reception than rival handsets.

Despite the unconventional form factor, Passport isn't exactly a slouch in the specs department: Details of the 1440 x 1440 display with a pixel density of 453 ppi were first made public last month, and Chen says the higher resolution "allows users to view 60 characters on each line," far more than the typical rectangular smartphone.

BlackBerry is also throwing everything but the kitchen sink into Passport's internals, with to a quad-core 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 processor with 3GB RAM and 32GB of onboard storage, expandable to 64GB more by popping in a micro-SD card.

BlackBerry plans to introduce Passport to world this Wednesday with a simultaneous launch in Toronto, London and Dubai, followed by immediate availability in many stores and additional markets including Asia within one or two weeks.

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