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RIM BlackBerry Pearl 3G, Bold 9650 Debut

Canada’s Research in Motion has taken the wraps off two new BlackBerry models, hoping to cement its place at the top of the heap of smartphone manufacturers…despite some strong competition from the like’s of Google’s growing Android army and (of course) the Apple iPhone. The new BlackBerry Pearl 3G is RIM’s smallest smartphone yet and will be available in both 14-key and 20-key configuration (for folks who need that QWERTY goodness). Meanwhile, the BlackBerry Bold 9650 packs all the high-end enterprise and power-user features of high-end BlackBerries with a new optical trackpad that makes it even easier to use.

The BlackBerry Pearl 3G is RIM’s latest entry into consumer smartphones: the 9100 model will sport a 20-key QWERTY keypad for the messaging and email fans out there, while the 9015 will feature a traditional 14-key keypad. The Pearl 35s are candybar-style phone weighing just 3.3 ounces and comign in just 13.3mm thick; they also pack a 400 by 360-pixel display, a 624 MHz processor, a 3.2 megapixel camera, assisted GPS, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. a microSD/SDHC slot that supports up to 32 GB of removable storage, and (of course) BlackBerry OS 5 so users can handle their email, contacts, messaging, Web browsing, documents, video, media, and more. The Pearls can also tap into the BlackBerry App world online store to expand their functionality, and sport and optical trackpad for navigating content—which ought to be a major improvement over previous lint- and grime-accumulating trackballs. the Pearl 3G will support tri-band UMTS/HSDPA and quad-band EDGE/GPRS/GSM networks, and although RIM hasn’t announced any carrier partners, the company expects the phone will be reaching consumers on “various carriers” beginning in May; no pricing information has been released.

A little further up the ladder, the BlackBerry Bold 9650 is bulkier at 4.8 ounces and over half an inch thick, but users get a little more oomph with a 2.44-inch 360 by 400-pixel display, a 3.2 megapixel camera, 802.11b/g and Bluetooth wireless, assisted GPS, 512 MB of flash memory, up to 32 GB of removable storage on microSD/SDHC cards (a 2GB card comes with), a full QWERTY keypad, and that optical trackball to easy navigation. Otherwise, the Bold 9650 is essentially the existing BlackBerry Tour with a better scrolling device: the BlackBerry Bold 9650 will support EV-DO Rev. A networks in North America and UMTS/HSPA and quad-band EDGE/GPRS/GSM networks overseas, and of course sports full media capabilities, full HTML browsing, access to the BlackBerry App World store, and a host of premium phone features like voice-activated dialing and a speakerphone. RIM also expects the Bold 9650 will launch in May, and is already showing off Sprint-branded versions of the handset, although no pricing information has been revealed.

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