updated 07:15 am EDT, Wed September 10, 2008
BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220
RIM today kicked off the CTIA mobile expo with the BlackBerry Pearl Flip. First nicknamed the Kickstart, the smartphone is the Canadian company's first clamshell and takes advantage of that to preview calls and messages without having to switch on or open the phone. It also has a relatively large internal LCD among flip phones with a 240x320 tall display. The launch variant of the Pearl Flip, the 8220, also builds in Wi-Fi Internet access and supports Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) for bridging cell and VoIP calling on those carriers that support the feature.
The new BlackBerry is functionally similar to last year's Pearl with a two-megapixel camera with flash and video capture, a full-size headphone jack, and an externally available microSDHC slot that holds as much as 16GB of media. RIM puts the same BlackBerry OS as for the Bold on the phone and gives it both a stronger full HTML browser and a media player, including the company's Media Sync software to load iTunes songs from a Windows PC.
Carriers worldwide start receiving the quad-band GSM and EDGE phone in the fall; in the US, the Flip is a T-Mobile exclusive and should appear in a similar timeframe with support for the provider's HotSpot@Home Wi-Fi calling. Rogers in Canada is known to be carrying the phone later this year and should support UMA through TalkSpot.
Separately, AOL and RIM today say they have struck a deal to bring the former's messaging services to BlackBerries, including AIM and ICQ for IM functions as well as "push" AOL Mail.