RIM BlackBerry: Sneak Peek at 3 New Smartphones

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Keeping new BlackBerry smartphones under wraps is not exactly one of Research In Motion's (RIM) strengths. In fact, details, technical specifications and even images of RIM's upcoming BlackBerry devices typically leak months in advance of the products' official releases.

Such is the case with three new, as-of-yet unannounced BlackBerry smartphones: the CDMA-compatible, BlackBerry Tour 9630 successor, the "Tour2" 9650; the next in the BlackBerry Pearl lineup, the "Pearl2" 9100, which sports RIM's SureType keyboard; and what might be the latest addition to RIM's Curve family, the BlackBerry 8910.

First up, the BlackBerry "Tour2" 9650. Here's what we know: The new Tour may or may not be called Tour2, but it looks just like the original Tour 9630 with a few notable tweaks. And the device's model number is 9650, which places it in the Tour family.

The BlackBerry 9650 is an upgraded version of the original Tour, and it replaces the first device's problematic trackball with RIM's new optical trackpad. It also will reportedly sport Wi-Fi and a beefed-up processor.

Thanks to leaked images of both Verizon Wireless and Sprint's inventory systems, it's clear that the device will be coming to these U.S. carriers, both of which currently offer the original Tour 9630. No official release dates are available quite yet, but the appearance of the device in the carrier systems suggests its debut may be sooner than later.

The BlackBerry Pearl 9100 was first spotted in November, and though we haven't really seen any additional information since, we know this device is the next in RIM's Pearl lineup. (Check out some video of the Pearl 9100 in action.)

RIM's Pearl devices, including the entire 81xx line and the Pearl Flip 82xx family, employ the company's SureType keyboard and software combination. SureType squeezes multiple characters onto single keys to slim down Pearl device profiles. And the associated SureType predictive text software aims to guess the specific characters you want while you're typing based on certain key combinations.

The most notable enhancements to the new Pearl include its optical trackpad--you should be starting to see a pattern here, RIM says it's doing away with the trackball completely. It's the third 3G BlackBerry Pearl--the CDMA Pearl 8130 was first, followed by the CDMA Pearl 8230. But it's the first 3G, GSM Pearl. It runs RIM's recently released BlackBerry OS 5.0. And the device reportedly features a newly designed 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.

This story, "RIM BlackBerry: Sneak Peek at 3 New Smartphones" was originally published by CIO.

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