The smallest BlackBerry Pearl smartphones yet, the 9100 and 9105, will go on sale in May on various carriers, Research in Motion Ltd. announced on Tuesday.
Waterloo-based RIM introduced the new Pearls with a strong emphasis on a consumer market it continues to work to win over, even as it dominates the mobile device market for enterprise users.
The new BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9100 and 9105 are both 3G models and are among the most compact smartphones RIM has released to date.
Mike Lazaridis, co-CEO of RIM, in a statement, noted “the fast-growing consumer interest in smartphones,” and how 75 per cent of customers globally still buy mobile phones with traditional alpha-numeric keypads.
In that spirit, RIM seems to be covering all its bases, announcing a 20-key version, the 9100, with a condensed Qwerty keypad and a 9105 model with a 14-key traditional alpha-numeric keypad. Several colors will be available.
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The Pearl 3G “allows consumers to upgrade their traditional mobile phone to a full featured, easy-to-use and fashionable 3G BlackBerry smartphone that supports BlackBerry Messenger and many other apps while maintaining a handset design and layout that is familiar and comfortable,” said RIM president and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis in a statement.
“We have the CIO and the IT department but we have to be appealing to the consumer market,” said Alan Panezic, RIM’s vice-president of platform product management in an interview.
RIM said the Pearls would support HSDPA and GSM networks.
RIM also announced a high-performance BlackBerry Bold 9650 smartphone that works on a CDMA network – popular with U.S. customers.
Both new Pearls are the first BlackBerry smartphones to support faster Wi-Fi with the 802.11n specification.
They will be slightly smaller than existing Pearl smartphones, at 4.25 in. x 1.96 in. x 0.52 in. in size and weighing 3.3 ounces.
RIM has also incorporated the optical trackpad in the new Pearls that has been using in newer BlackBerry devices instead of the well-known trackball.
Other features include a 3.2 megapixel camera, a 360 x 400 display, a 624 Mhz processor with a 256MB flash memory and support for up to 32 GB of storage.
In Canada, all three major carriers – Telus, Rogers and Bell – will offer the new 3G Pearl phones.
Telus Mobility and Bell Mobility will carry the product from May onwards. Telus pricing for the Pearl phones will start at $29.00 based on a three-year contract.
Pricing information from Rogers and Bell has yet to be released.
With files from Joaquim P. Menezes