Here we go again; another Research In Motion (RIM) prototype device exposed on the Internet loooong before the BlackBerry-maker intended. This time around it's the upcoming BlackBerry Pearl 9100, or, as it was codenamed, the BlackBerry Striker/Stratus.
The new images and video come from Salomondrin.net and CrackBerry.com, and they offer a fairly detailed look at what's next in RIM's Pearl smartphone lineup.
The BlackBerry Pearl 9100 is the third version of RIM's Pearl, behind the Pearl 81xx and Pearl Flip 82xx, and it has a very similar "candy-bar"-style form-factor to the original 81xx-series. The defining feature of the entire Pearl family is RIM's "SureType" keyboard and software combination, which squeezes multiple characters onto single keys to reduce the overall size of the devices. The new Pearl's no exception, though the keyboard itself seems to have been prettied up a bit--sleeker, shinier keys, etc.
It's just the third 3G BlackBerry Pearl; the CDMA Pearl 8130 was first, followed by the CDMA Pearl 8230. The Pearl 9100 runs RIM's recently released BlackBerry OS 5.0. The 9100 also features RIM'snew optical "trackpad"for navigation, which replaces the Pearl-like "trackball" found on both the earlier Pearl devices. And it reportedly features a newly-design battery.
The BlackBerry Pearl 9100 is also the first device in the Pearl lineup to sport actual Pearl branding; the word "Pearl" appears on its rear side, between the digital camera lens and flash.
It remains to be seen whether or not "BlackBerry Pearl 9100"will be the official device name upon its release. RIM could decide to add to its ongoingBlackBerry naming confusion by calling it the BlackBerry Pearl2, Pearl 2...or perhaps even Pearl3.
No release details are available quite yet--remember, this is a prototype device, and RIM may not even announce the gadget for months. But the SureType-smartphone pictured on Salomondrin.net is a GSM handset--it wants a SIM card--so it stands to reason that T-Mobile and AT&T will get the BlackBerry Pearl 9100 in 2010. A CDMA-version, mostly likely the Pearl 9130, should also make its way to both Verizon and Sprint next year. On that note, I think it's about time for RIM to change the lock and get a brand new set of keys for its cupboard. We're consistently seeing the company's devices leak months before intended. In fact, one has to wonder whether or not the leaks aren't designed to drum up some pre-release publicity...
As much as I enjoying seeing what's next in the world of BlackBerry, it would be nice to be surprised by a device-related announcement from RIM once in a while.
This story, "BlackBerry Pearl 9100 Exposed Early" was originally published by CIO.