Research in Motion (RIM) has announced its BlackBerry Curve 9230 smartphone.

The 9320 is the latest effort from the smartphone maker and boasts version 7.1 of the BlackBerry operating system. The handset is socially focused and comes with a dedicated BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) button. See also Group test: what's the best smartphone?

"The new BlackBerry Curve 9320 is designed to make it incredibly easy for users to stay socially-connected," said Carlo Chiarello, EVP of smartphones at RIM.

"The new BlackBerry Curve 9320 will be especially popular with customers upgrading to a smartphone for the first time and existing Curve customers looking for a step up in speed and functionality."

The smartphone has a 2.4-inch LCD screen with a resolution of 320 x 240 and the traditional BlackBerry Qwerty keyboard. Other features include a 3.2Mp camera, FM radio and a microSD card slot.

BlackBerry 9320 smartphone

As well as a BMM button, the phone is pre-loaded with Social Feeds 2.0 allowing users to post to, and gather updates from, multiple social networks at once. RIM touts a battery life of seven hours talk time and 18 hours standby time.

BlackBerry OS 7.1 allows users to use the 9320 as a mobile hotspot and make calls over Wi-Fi. RIM said there is also a new Parent Controls feature to restrict access to certain apps and functions.

The Curve 9320 will be on sale via mobile operators and retailers this month. SIM-free it will cost around £175.