RIM has announced the BlackBerry Curve 8520, aimed at first-time smartphone buyers. In most respects it's fairly similar to previous curve models, but it does sport a completely redesigned navigation mechanism.

Instead of the trackball featured on many BlackBerry devices, the Curve 8520 has a trackpad, "like a laptop" says RIM. It uses optical technology to work out what's going on, and pushing it down will perform the same function as clicking the trackball used to.

There's also a gaggle of multimedia buttons on the top of the device, for controlling music playback, along with what RIM claims to be 17 days of standby battery life. Of course, you'll get nowhere near that, because of the handset's "always-on" connection to the net, but it should last at least a day or two, we'd imagine.

There's also a microSD card slot for storage, a 2-megapixel camera, and a fairly standard 320 x 240 TFT display. It has Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and a 3.5mm headphone jack, along with BlackBerry's renowned push email and QWERTY.

No pricing has been unveiled yet, but rumours have it pegged at free on a £25-per-month contract. We'll be seeing it this afternoon in person, so if you have any questions, drop them below, and stay tuned for more pictures.