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Starting Friday, Verizon Wireless customers can purchase the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8530 in stores and online for $99.99 with a two-year contract and after a $100 mail-in rebate.
As the CDMA kin to the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8520, the Curve 8530 is more of an entry-level device so you won't find some of the higher-end features found on the BlackBerry Tour, such as world roaming capabilities and a high-resolution display.
However, the Curve 8530 certainly brings some worthy upgrades to the aging Curve 8330, including a next-gen processor, an optical trackpad, and dedicated media controls, and one key feature that even the Tour lacks: integrated Wi-Fi.
On paper, it seems RIM has another crowd-pleaser on its hands, but we have some reservations about the phone's design and Verizon also happens to have another capable messaging smartphone in its lineup, the HTC Ozone, which offers the same features plus world roaming and costs $50 less.
RIM shipped us a Curve 8530 to check out, but it didn't include all the software that would ship on the final version, so we'll hold off on posting a review and verdict till we get a final product. In the meantime, however, you can read some of our first impressions in our hands-on photo gallery below and get a better 360 view of the phone in our First Look video. Stay tuned for more.