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Vodafone bags first BlackBerry 7 handset

Vodafone seems to have pipped its competitors to the post to become the first UK phone-flogger to offer the BlackBerry Bold 9900 which is now available to pre-order.

The soap-bar smartphon - the first to feature RIM's new operating system BlackBerry 7 - is available on airtime plans from a staggering £41 per month and up, has both a 2.8-inch touch-screen and a traditional BB QWERTY keyboard.

The 9900 is the first of three new UK models expected to touch down in the next month or so and is Canadian company RIM's slimmest model ever, at just 10.5mm fat.

Vodafone isn't currently offering the Bold 9900 as a sim-only or pay-as-you-go option as it will be keen to tie up as many 24-month contracts as it can before it starts handing its limited inventory to those not willing to take a two-year plunge.

RIM has been roundly criticised for taking its eye off of the smartphone ball and it remains to be seen whether three new handsets and a buffed-up OS will be enough to boost the company's performance.

More details are to be found on the Vodafone site.