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BlackBerry launches Passport phone

BlackBerry has launched a new square-shaped smartphone with a distinctive keyboard as the embattled company bids for a comeback.

The firm's chief executive John Chen said the new device called Passport "fundamentally changes the way business professionals get work done on their smartphone".

It comes after BlackBerry lost ground as a dominant smartphone company following the launch of Apple's iPhone and the introduction of Google-powered Android phones.

Its new phone, which BlackBerry say is inspired by actual passports as "the universal symbol of mobility", has a 4.5in (11.4cm) touchscreen and the industry's first "touch-enabled keyboard".

The smartphone maker said the device will make it e asier to read and write emails, review and edit documents, browse the web and navigate maps, while the physical "qwerty" keyboard doubles as a touch-sensitive swipe pad.

Passport's battery is also the largest among the top selling smartphones and when tested against an active user, provides up to 30 hours of use, BlackBerry said.

The phone, priced at £529, is now available in the UK and will run Android apps from the Amazon Appstore.

Mr Chen, who took over as BlackBerry's chief executive in November, said: "As we set out to design BlackBerry Passport, we were guided by a simple yet challenging idea - to set aside the limitations of traditional design and to instead simply build a device that fundamentally changes the way business professionals get work done on their smartphone.

"The BlackBerry Passport was created to drive productivity and to break through the sea of rectangular-screen, all-touch devices."

At the end of the last financial year, BlackBerry reported a net loss of 423 million US dollars (£254 million) for the fourth quarter that ended on March 1, compared with a 98 million dollar (£59 million) profit at the same stage last year.

However the Canadian company posted profit for the first quarter of this year, with a net income of 23 million US dollars (£13.5 million) for the three months ended May 31.

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