BlackBerry Pearl 9100, which may be named the BlackBerry Pearl Stratus or the BlackBerry Pearl Striker, is on its way. A video on the net shows the BlackBerry Pearl 9100 in all its glory, though it has since been pulled. (see spy photos and pictures alongside)
At first look, the BlackBerry Pearl 9100/Striker/Stratus resembles the older BlackBerry Pearl 8100. The Pearl 8100 series is the smallest BlackBerrys ever made, with a compressed keyboard with SureType technology. Regular phones have a keypad with three sequential letters (ABC, DEF etc) crunched together in one button, while full QWERTY keypads have one key per letter. The Pearl is in between, with a QWERTY keypad, but the letters are crunched together in the QWERTY mode rather than the ABC mode. The BlackBerry Pearl 8100 was my first BlackBerry, and for me, it was an easy switch from the alphanumeric keypad of my previous Motorola Razr. The BlackBerry Pearl 9100/Striker/Stratus comes with the same keypad, which is midway between a full QWERTY keypad and a regular alphanumeric keypad.
The BlackBerry Pearl 9100/Striker/Stratus features a trackpad in place of the trackball. This is a good improvement, but nothing revolutionary. The trackball is easy to use, but it has a tendency to misbehave once in a while, so that even when the ball rolls, the ‘cursor’ remains stuck. This happened with my BlackBerry Pearl 8100, and the experience repeated with my current BlackBerry 8820. The BlackBerry keypad was introduced for the first time in the BlackBerry Curve 8530, which mimicked the touchpad on a laptop. The optical trackpad eliminates the occasional irritation with the trackball.
It is also rumoured that the Blackberry Pearl 9100 would have 3G capability. The leaked video did not mention 3G, but Blackberry forums and bloggers are certain it has 3G, so it is a good possibility. If yes, when it is launched, it would join the ranks of 3G mobile phones in India.
Unlike the more “business-like” Bold and Curve series, the Pearl always attracted those who wanted a smartphone without the big-boy looks. While many business users selected the BlackBerry Bold, Curve and Tour, the Pearl was left behind. The new BlackBerry Pearl 9100/Striker/Stratus seems to be a valiant attempt at rejuvenating the market for Pearl.
There is no clear indication on when the new Peal 9100 would be launched. It could be towards the end of the current year, or the launch date could be in the first couple of months of 2010. An India launch of the Pearl 9100 would happen only even later for sure.
The BlackBerry Pearl 9100/Striker/Stratus is expected to come with GPS, WiFi and the latest operating system, the BlackBerry OS 5.0. However, there is no indication so far that the pathetic BlackBerry browser has undergone any change. The BlackBerry Pearl 9100/Striker/Stratus comes with a camera (which we expect to have video recording) and an LED flash – the first Pearl with a camera flash. The new BlackBerry Pearl 9100/Striker/Stratus also has PEARL engraved on the back of the phone, between the camera and the flash. None of the earlier Pearls had this branding.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the BlackBerry Pearl 9100/Striker/Stratus is a GSM phone. This means the phone will be available on the GSM networks of AT&T and T-Mobile in the US. in India, the GSM operators who can offer BlackBerry Pearl 9100/Striker/Stratus on their networks include Airtel, Vodafone, Loop Mobile, Aircel, Idea Cellular, MTS, BSNL, MTNL,Tata DoCoMo and Reliance Communications.
Will this model be the final BlackBerry Pearl 9100/Striker/Stratus? We can’t be sure. It could be a prototype, or it could be the final model. In any case, one can reasonably conclude that the final model which will appear on shop shelves will look similar to this. A few months back, a leaked video of the Storm 2 showed off all the details of the phone which came out later. Again, a similar leak has whipped up curiosity about the new BlackBerry line.
Currently, there are four phones in the BlackBerry Pearl 81XX series – the BlackBerry Pearl 8100, BlackBerry Pearl 8120, the BlackBerry Pearl 8110 and the BlackBerry Pearl 8130. Except BlackBerry 8100, all the others come with video recording. Only BlackBerry Pearl 8110 and BlackBerry Pearl 8130 come with GPS. All the Pearls have trackballs and keyboard lighting. Only BlackBerry Pearl 8120 has WiFi, and the BlackBerry Pearl 8130 alone is 3G-enabled. Except the 8130, all the others are GSM-GPRS-EDGE phones. Only BlackBerry Pearl 8130 has tethered modem capability. Apart from these, there are two models of BlackBerry Pearl Flip as well, which are folding phones with Pearl styling, the BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220 and BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8230. The 8220 is a 2G GSM-GPRS-EDGE phone without GPS, while the 8230 is a 3G CDMA phone with GPS.