Blackberry phones are soon to go mainstream with the release in the next month of a Vodafone BlackBerry handset. In the States, T-Mobile is doing the same.

Vodafone will introduce the new BlackBerry 7100v smartphone on 1 October in Germany and the UK. After that it will be sold across Europe. The 7100t version, introduced by T-Mobile in the US, is reviewed here.

The 7100v is the second in a series of new handsets being introduced by BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM). It is targeting business users with a combination mobile phone and wireless e-mail device.

The biggest noticeable change with the phone is the SureType keypad which has a Qwerty layout and only two letters on each key, as opposed to the T9 European standard which runs through the alphabet consecutively and has three or four letters on each key. Vodafone expects this to make a big difference to the way we send text.

Vodafone's launch comes one week after T-Mobile USA said it would offer the first device in the series, the BlackBerry 7100t, in early October.

In addition to SureType, Vodafone's 7100v handset offers quad-band international coverage, speakerphone, Bluetooth support, an internal antenna and 32MB of memory. The device is 11.9cm long, 5.6cm wide, 1.9cm thick and weighs 120 grams.

Pricing varies according to users' tariff plans. UK subscribers of Vodafone's Anytime 400 voice minutes plan can get the new Blackberry for free, with a monthly e-mail charge, while subscribers of the Anytime 100 minute plan can get their hands on the 7100v for £82.50 plus the monthly e-mail fee.

Vodafone is hoping that the converged functionality of the 7100v, along with its compact size, will convince users that they only need one device while on the go.

You can see pics and more details of both phones on GeekZone. The T-Mobile phone is here, and the Vodafone version here.

What do you tihnk? Do you like the look of the Vodafone version, or the T-Mobile version? Or neither? Join our Forum and tell us.