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BlackBerry Curve 8520 swaps balls for pads

RIM has announced the inexpensive BlackBerry Curve 8520 will ripen this August, dropping Qwerty goodness into our held-out aprons and swapping the trackball for an optical trackpad

The BlackBerry trackball brings a slight blush to our cheeks -- fiddling with a tiny nubbin just strikes us as a little bit dirty. The company is called RIM, for heaven's sake.

We hope we'll feel the same frisson of forbidden user-interface-element excitement when we get our fingers on the new 'optical trackpad', which is replacing the trackball on the BlackBerry Curve 8520, to be released this August.

We haven't tried it yet, but we're told that the trackpad acts like a tiny version of the mousepad on a laptop -- although RIM assures us it's insanely responsive to make up for its small size.

Although RIM's not confirming the price yet, the BlackBerry Curve 8520 promises to be an inexpensive phone for people looking to upgrade to a smart phone and find out what all the fuss is about. It'll have Wi-Fi and quad-band connectivity, but no 3G, so you'll have to stick close to shore when you're surfing the Web.

The Curve 8520 looks to be a good choice for social-networking addicts, thanks to its full Qwerty keyboard and apps for accessing Facebook and MySpace, and access to the BlackBerry App World to grab more.

It will also have a puny 2-megapixel camera, a media player and the ever-handy 3.5mm standard headphone jack so you can use your own cans to listen to your tunes. RIM promises a 2GB microSD memory card will be included, along with 256MB of on-board memory.