Verizon ships Droid Eris, Curve 8530

Verizon this morning preceded the launch of the Motorola Droid two expected new smartphones, including its second Android phone. The HTC Droid Eris, also known as the Desire, is Verizon’s interpretation of the Hero and comes in an all-black design with touch-sensitive buttons below the 3.2-inch screen as well as a trackball for one-handed use. It still carries the 5-megapixel camera, GPS and Wi-Fi, and still uses HTC’s original Sense UI layer and built-in web browser Flash.

The Droid Eris will come with an 8GB microSDHC card preloaded and will partly undercut Sprint’s price for the Hero, costing $100 on contract but only after a $100 mail-in rebate. It should ship on Friday alongside the Motorola flagship.

Arriving in sync with the Droid is the BlackBerry Curve 8530. It adapts the existing 8520 to CDMA networks and brings 3G through EVDO, eliminating the 8520’s primary weakness. It still touts 802.11g Wi-Fi, GPS and the new trackpad control; its sacrifices versus the Tour are a lower-resolution 320×240 display, a simpler 2-megapixel camera and the absence of a secondary GSM mode. The new Curve sells for the same $100 after contract and rebate but will only be available on November 20th.

The introductions support notions of a major smartphone push at Verizon aimed at overthrowing AT&T’s self-proclaimed control of the high end market through handsets like the iPhone. As many as 15 smartphones could be unveiled before the end of 2009 depending on development and the early success of the Droid line.

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