BlackBerry Ltd.’s most exotic phone yet, the square-screen Passport, is now available in India, with Amazon Inc. booking orders on its Indian portal at 49,990 rupees ($811) for the fully unlocked handset.
BlackBerry had set Sept. 29 as the release date for India, where people buy factory-unlocked mobile phones at retail stores, and opt for carriers and plans of their choice separately. BlackBerry Passport is expected to be available across stores in the country from Oct. 10. BlackBerry is betting that the company's traditional strengths of building software and hardware for productivity and security will win it back corporate customers. The Canadian company reported better-than-expected earnings in its fiscal second quarter.
The phone, weighing less than 200 grams, has a touch screen that measures 4.5 inches across the diagonal and a physical full-qwerty keyboard, which is also equipped with its own touch features. It is also the first BlackBerry to run version 10.3, the latest version of the BlackBerry 10 operating system.
The phone's "unique design and innovative features" highlight the company's focus on strengthening its "enterprise segment offerings,” Sunil Lalvani, managing director of BlackBerry’s Indian unit, said in a statement on Sep. 29.
BlackBerry CEO John Chen released the Passport at an event in Toronto on Sept. 24 held simultaneously in Dubai and London. Worldwide, the phone notched up 200,000 orders within hours of becoming available on Amazon.com, BlackBerry said in a blog post on its site.
The handset, which supports 4G wireless technology, sells at $599 in the U.S. for the factory-unlocked version.