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RIM 7100t to 'charm' mobile phone fans

Blackberry squeezed into handset form-factor

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Update Research in Motion will ship its much-anticipated phone-format Blackberry handset, the 7100t, in the first week of October, the company will announce later today.

RIM Blackberry 7100tThe device, codenamed 'Charm', looks more like a smart phone handset than previous Blackberries and will be pitched at mass-market consumers in a bid to win them over to RIM's e-mail and PIM system.

The most obvious change RIM has made with the new handset is the replacement of older Blackberries' QWERTY keypads with a standard mobile phone-style numeric pad, each with three alpha characters or symbols. Essentially, RIM is attempting to appeal to the SMS generation.

While the handset is less wide than other Blackberries, the 7100t provides the same applications as those machines, although they have been upgraded for the new device. It is also sports a more consumer-friendly dark-grey and light-grey colour scheme, and a phone-like hi-res colour LCD screen.

The 7100t is expected to be made available exclusively through T-Mobile USA, according to a Reuters report, for $200 plus a $60 monthly fee, which includes 1000 minutes' talk time and unlimited data and messaging.

The handsedt includes instant messaging functionality, along with built-in Bluetooth. A quad-band device, the phone operates on 850/900/1800/1900MHz GSM/GPRS wireless networks in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

UK and European launches will take place when RIM has signed up appropriate network partners. ®

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