We just wrapped up a quick play with RIM's just-announced BlackBerry Pearl 3G, and our initial impression is a positive one -- if you've currently got a Pearl 8100 series (or even an 8200 series flip, for that matter), this looks like a must-have upgrade. The phone's UI is lightning fast, the optical pad is plenty responsive (as RIM's optical pads tend to be), and 802.11n and HSDPA are obviously both welcome additions. The keyboards are a little funny, but that's nothing new -- Pearls have always had polarizing keyboards, dating back to the early days -- but we think we prefer the 14-key just a smidge over the traditional 20-key. For whatever reason, RIM has chosen to give the 14-key version more rounded, curved keys, whereas the buttons on the 20-key version have angled tops that put a little more pressure on the fingertips (we're sure you could handily get used to either version, of course). The company is quick to note that the numeric keypad is not using T9 -- it's using a flavor of SurePress -- so... you know, don't get it twisted. Hit up the gallery below!

BlackBerry Pearl 3G first hands-on!

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BlackBerry Pearl 3G hands-on 2

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