As smartphones go, the original BlackBerry Pearl 8100 series' longevity is nothing short of astounding -- with some minor tweaks, the phone has lasted essentially unchanged for well over three years. Needless to say, it's time for the granddaddy of consumer-grade BlackBerrys to start collecting pension, so it's an awfully good thing that RIM has chosen its WES conference this week to announce the all-new Pearl 3G. Rumored as the Pearl 9100, the phone becomes RIM's very first with 802.11n WiFi support (in addition to 802.11b and g, naturally) and features a 3.2 megapixel camera, 256MB of internal storage with microSD expansion up to 32GB, GPS, triband HSDPA with quadband GSM / EDGE, and a 360 x 400 display. RIM is making the Pearl 3G available in "several lustrous colors" and two different keypad configurations -- numeric 14-key and the more traditional SurePress 20-key -- though there's no indication that the rumored QWERTY version will make it to retail (at least, not yet) or that the company intends for users to be able to swap modules themselves. Expect the phone to launch with "various carriers" in May -- and considering that they've got both AWS and 850 / 1900MHz 3G versions in the mix, we'd expect to see it launch on AT&T and T-Mobile alike. Follow the break for RIM's full press release.

Update: RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis just showed off a white version of the Pearl 3G during his WES talk. We haven't seen one floating around, but it looks pretty hot -- and considering the number of colors the original Pearl came in during its lifetime, we'd expect it to be just the start. Pic after the break.




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RIM Introduces the New BlackBerry Pearl 3G Smartphone

What do you want in a mobile phone?
Small? Stylish? Fast? Full-featured?
How about all of the above?

Waterloo, ON – Research In Motion (RIM) (NASDAQ: RIMM; TSX: RIM) today announced the new BlackBerry® Pearl™ 3G, the smallest BlackBerry® smartphone yet. Despite its impressively compact and elegant design, this stylish new handset is a powerful 3G BlackBerry smartphone with uncompromising performance and top–of-the-line features, including all the industry-leading BlackBerry® email, messaging and social networking capabilities that so many people love.

"The BlackBerry Pearl 3G is unlike any other smartphone in the world and we expect a broad range of new and existing customers will be drawn to its powerful features and compact design," said Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO, Research In Motion. "Considering the fast growing consumer interest in smartphones and the fact that more than three-quarters of the people in the global mobile phone market are still buying handsets with a traditional alphanumeric keypad, we think the new BlackBerry Pearl 3G addresses a substantial market opportunity. It 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."

The new BlackBerry Pearl 3G smartphone is a marvel of engineering and design excellence. It's as powerful as it is compact. Measuring less than two inches wide (50 mm) and weighing only 3.3 ounces (93g), it still manages to pack in support for high-speed 3G (UMTS/HSDPA) networks, Wi-Fi® (b/g/n) and GPS along with a powerhouse processor that drives visually stunning images on the sharp, high-resolution display. It also features an optical trackpad for smooth navigation, dedicated volume and media keys for added convenience, a 3.2 MP camera with flash for quality pictures on the go, and support for up to 32 GB of personal content.

Key features of the new BlackBerry Pearl 3G smartphone include:

• Elegant candybar design measuring 4.25" x 1.96" x 0.52" (108mm x 50 mm x 13.3 mm) and weighing only 3.3 oz (93 grams)
• 624 Mhz processor with 256 MB Flash memory
• 360x400 sharp-resolution display (238 ppi)
• Optical trackpad that makes navigation fast and smooth, plus a comfortable keyboard that enables quick and accurate typing
• Media player for videos, pictures and music (music plays up to 30 hours), plus dedicated media keys integrated along top of the handset
• 3.2 MP camera with zoom, autofocus, flash and video recording*
• Built-in GPS for location-based applications such as BlackBerry® Maps, as well as photo geotagging
• Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n) - first BlackBerry smartphone to support 'n'
• microSD/SDHD memory card slot that supports up to 32 GB cards
• Premium phone features, including voice activated dialing, speakerphone and Bluetooth® (2.1) with support for hands-free headsets, stereo headsets, car kits (including systems that support the emerging Bluetooth Message Access Profile standard) and other Bluetooth accessories
• Access to BlackBerry App World™, featuring a broad and growing catalog of mobile applications developed specifically for BlackBerry smartphones
• Support for BlackBerry® Media Sync for easily syncing photos as well as iTunes® and Windows Media® Player music with the smartphone**
• BlackBerry® OS 5
• Support for tri-band UMTS/HSDPA and quad-band EDGE/GPRS/GSM networks
• Removable, rechargeable 1150 mAhr battery that provides approximately 5.5 hours of talk time on 3G networks

The new BlackBerry Pearl 3G smartphone will be available in two models and several lustrous colors. The 9100 model features a 20-key condensed QWERTY keyboard and the 9105 model features a 14-key traditional phone keyboard. Both models include SureType® software that can complete words as the user types, making texting fast and accurate. The BlackBerry Pearl 3G smartphone is expected to launch with various carriers beginning in May. Check with individual carriers for details about availability and pricing. For more information visit www.blackberry.com/pearl3G.

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BlackBerry Pearl 3G revealed: two keypad styles and 802.11n WiFi