01/08/2015 12:12 EST | Updated 03/10/2015 05:59 EDT

BlackBerry signs AT&T deal to sell rounded Passport in U.S.

BlackBerry has inked a deal with America's largest cellphone company to sell the Passport smartphone to its customers, but only after the Waterloo, Ont.-company agreed to round off the device's design a little.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, BlackBerry announced a deal with AT&T that will see the latter become the first U.S. carrier to offer the smartphone to its American customers.

As part of the deal, BlackBerry is going to make a custom version of the Passport — which is shaped like, and is about the same size as, a Canadian passport — but round the edges off a little.

"AT&T wanted something unique for their customers," a public relations manage for BlackBerry told CBC News in response to an emailed query about the deal. 

AT&T customers can get the phone for $199 on a two-year contract, or $650 outright, at a time the company describes as "in the near future" in a press release Wednesday.

In addition to being a vote of confidence in BlackBerry's products, the deal harkens back to days when carriers and phone makers were both eager to sign exclusivity deals that made certain carriers the only place where customers could get certain phones. The industry has moved away from that model in recent years.

The Passport is available through all the major carriers in Canada.