09/23/2014 09:09 EDT | Updated 11/23/2014 05:59 EST

BlackBerry Passport priced to take on Apple & Samsung

BlackBerry's latest smartphone, the Passport, is set to be unveiled Wednesday, and it's priced to give it a leg up on the most recent offerings from Apple and Google's Android.

The phone will retail at just under $600 without a contract in the U.S. — significantly lower than even the most bare-bones versions of Apple's recently announced iPhone 6, or market-leading Samsung's latest Galaxy 5.

That's a key strategic decision to make the phone especially appealing to large corporate orders, which once formed the backbone of the company's market-dominance before the iPhone entered the smartphon scene.

Canadian pricing is not yet known, but will be revealed at an event in Toronto on Wednesday.

While it has comparable specifications to other devices, the Passport's main distinguishing feature is a large 4.5-inch-wide screen that the company says makes it much easier and more pleasant to view things on (as opposed to a conventional rectangular screen).

The company says the wider screen fits 60 characters on each line — more than comparable devices and closer to reading a book.

The phone has two cameras — 13 megapixels on the back, 2 megapixels on the front — and one of the strongest batteries on the market, which the company says can power 25 hours of moderate use, or 18 full days of standby mode before draining.

The Passport is the first entirely new device to be released by BlackBerry since new chief executive John Chen joined the company about a year ago.

Before joining 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.