T-Mobile launches BlackBerry Pearl 8220, available today for $149.99

The BlackBerry Pearl 8220 runs neck-and-neck with the Storm for the title of "most leaked RIM device of 2008," but for what it's worth, T-Mobile is just now getting around to announcing a date and price for the most fliptastic phone in Waterloo's ever-expanding lineup. That's good news -- but perhaps the best news is that the launch date just happens to be today (for one of the two available colors, anyhow). The black version of the 8220 will be appearing online and in T-Mobile stores today, while the dark red will be following on a week later on Monday, October 20. Both will run $149.99 on a two-year contract.

We've been toying around with the black 8220 for a few days now, and our emotions are mixed. With WiFi, support for T-Mobile's HotSpot unlimited calling service, a 3.5mm headphone jack, 2-megapixel cam with flash, support for microSD cards up to 16GB, and everything that makes a BlackBerry a BlackBerry, there's little question that it's got some horsepower under the hood, but there are a couple odd personality quirks that we'd personally have a tough time getting used to. First off -- something we first noticed when we played with it at CTIA last month -- the keys are completely flush and tucked up next to one another, making it nearly impossible to type confidently (of course, we weren't huge fans of SureType to begin with, so experts might have an easier go of it). Along the same vein, the trackball is deeply recessed, so your thumb is constantly rubbing against the chrome well surrounding the ball; not a dealbreaker by any stretch, but annoying after a while. On the plus side, we think it's a pretty striking (albeit beefy) phone, the exterior display is both beautiful and functional, and we really think this is going to appeal to a whole bunch of folks who'd otherwise be considering a Pearl candybar. We'd once heard rumors that RIM and T-Mobile were going to try to launch this at a $50 price point, and by golly, if they could actually make that happen, they'd have a monster seller on their hands. Check out our hands-on shots in the gallery!