RIM announces BlackBerry Pearl 3G, Bold 9650

Ahead of its annual WES conference, Research in Motion unveils two upcoming smartphones, including a refresh of the popular Pearl series.

RIM BlackBerry Pearl 3G
RIM BlackBerry Pearl 3G RIM

This post was updated at 6:39 a.m. PT with information from Sprint regarding the availability of the RIM BlackBerry Bold 9650.

Research in Motion's Wireless Enterprise Symposium (WES) doesn't officially start till Tuesday, but the company kick-started things by introducing two new devices on Monday: the BlackBerry Bold 9650 and the BlackBerry Pearl 3G. Carrier and pricing information is sparse at this time, but the news finally gives us a look at two devices that have been a long time coming.

The BlackBerry Bold 9650 is a handset that's been promised since last summer and though now under the Bold name, this is essentially the BlackBerry Tour with the addition of Wi-Fi and an optical trackpad. The rest of the smartphone's features remain largely the same as the Tour's, including dual-mode functionality for world roaming, support for international 3G bands, and a 3.2-megapixel camera. It also features a 3.5mm headphone jack, a 2.44-inch HVGA screen, 512MB Flash memory, and ships with a 2GB microSD card.

So far only Sprint has officially announced that it will offer the BlackBerry Bold 9650 starting May 23 for $199.99 with a two-year contract and after a $100 mail-in rebate. We have yet to hear from Verizon, but we'd be pretty surprised if the carrier didn't pick up the Bold 9650 sooner or later.

Meanwhile, the BlackBerry Pearl 3G finally gives us a refresh of the popular Pearl series. Like previous models, the Pearl 3G keeps a compact design, measuring 4.25 inches tall by 1.96 inches wide by 0.52 inch thick, and features a SureType keyboard, but there will actually be two configurations. The 9100 model will have a 20-key SureType keyboard, whereas the 9105 will have a 14-key SureType keyboard. Like the latest BlackBerrys, the optical trackpad replaces the trackball navigator and also has dedicated media controls on top of the device.

The smartphone also runs BlackBerry OS 5.0 and includes Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n), Bluetooth, and GPS. The BlackBerry Pearl 3G supports both AT&T's and T-Mobile's 3G networks. For a next-gen model, however, we're disappointed that RIM didn't upgrade the 3.2-megapixel camera.

Though not the most mind-blowing news, RIM may also show off BlackBerry OS 6.0 at WES, which we're definitely excited to hear more about. We'll be sure to report back any news from the show. WES is taking place in Orlando, Fla. from April 27 to April 29.

Read the full CNET Review

RIM BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9105

The Bottom Line: The RIM BlackBerry Pearl 3G is a great little global smartphone if you can deal with the unusual keyboard. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

BlackBerry Bold 9650 (Sprint)

The Bottom Line: Though nothing revolutionary, the RIM BlackBerry Bold 9650 brings some welcome additions and offers Sprint customers a solid messaging world phone. / Read full review

About the author

Bonnie Cha is chief correspondent for Crave, covering every kind of tech toy imaginable (with a special obsession for robots and Star Wars-related stuff). When she's not scoping out stories, you can find her checking out live music or surfing in the chilly waters of Northern California.

 

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