TORONTO -- A new BlackBerry smartphone is headed to U.S. stores later this month, but it'll look especially familiar to most users.
Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) said Thursday it will launch the BlackBerry Curve 9315, a slightly updated version of the keypad phones already on the market, in the United States.
The launch is exclusively through U.S. carrier T-Mobile, and a release date is set for Jan. 23.
The model has already been released in other regions, including Europe, Asia and Latin America.
One of the major differences between this phone and other BlackBerry devices available in the U.S. is the a dedicated BBM button, which allows users to open the company's popular chat application with the touch of a button.
The BBM button has been a popular feature on models sold outside North America, and the company has put an increasing amount of focus on the exclusivity features of the chat system.
"We've gotten some great response on the product worldwide and we wanted to bring a variant to the U.S. market," said Richard Piasentin, vice-president and manager of U.S. sales, marketing and operations.
In November, the company updated BBM chat to make it capable of handling voice calls over Wi-Fi networks.
The BlackBerry Curve 9315 runs on RIM's existing BlackBerry 7 operating system and also features an FM tuner to listen to radio stations without using mobile phone data.
BlackBerry Curves are considered "entry-level" devices by the company. They're marketed to new smartphone users and consumers on a budget.
RIM is putting the finishing touches on its BlackBerry 10 operating system and a new slate of high-end touchscreen and keypad smartphones that are expected to hit stores early this year.
-- The Canadian Press