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BlackBerry 10 phones due in February, BBM adds Wi-Fi calls

A brace of BlackBerry news -- phones with BlackBerry 10 are due early next year, while BBM gets free calls over a Wi-Fi connection.

Phones running BlackBerry 10 -- the long-awaited, mildly anticipated new version of RIM's BlackBerry software -- is due to touch down in February, following an official debut on 30 January.

The new software will arrive with new devices in tow. RIM's Kristian Tear told the San Francisco Chronicle new devices should land on multiple continents within 30 days of the January event. That means the UK is likely to see the rumoured BlackBerry London on sale in the first two months of 2013.

The touchscreen-only London has already leaked extensively, so I'll eat my mittens if the mobile up there on the left isn't RIM's next flagship effort. The BlackBerry 'Nevada' (on the right) is likely to launch at the same time, and features the familiar Qwerty keyboard.

It's no secret that BlackBerry-maker RIM is in dire straits, with BlackBerry 10 seen as the company's last-ditch effort to turn around the sinking ship before it strikes the iceberg of obsolescence, and steer it safely into the port of mixed metaphors.

BlackBerry boss Thorsten Heins is optimistic, boldly stating, "We're here to win," but CNET UK's editor Jason Jenkins suspects the new software won't be enough.

BlackBerry fans needn't wait until next year for a new software treat, however. BBM -- the popular messaging service that gained notoriety during the London riots -- is introducing an update that lets you make free calls over a Wi-Fi connection.

In other words, if you're at home or in a Wi-Fi hotspot, you'll be able to ring your buddies via BBM without incurring any additional charges.

The update is available to devices running BlackBerry 6 OS or higher, and has a split-screen feature that lets you send text and picture messages during a voice call -- handy if you're in the phone while your puppy starts doing something hilarious.

It's out now in beta, and can be downloaded at the BlackBerry Beta Zone.

What does the future hold for RIM? Tell me in the comments or on our Facebook wall.

Image credit: CrackBerry