Friday Fun Speculation: Could RIM Also Be Working on an Update to the BlackBerry Pearl Flip?

New BlackBerry Pearl Flip in the Works?
By Kevin Michaluk on 5 Mar 2010 12:14 pm EST

So here's the deal.  Yesterday the image above (center one) popped up on an accessory and parts supplier website labeled as OEM Blackberry Pearl 9100 Keyboard Keypad Black. I think the notion of a full qwerty on a Pearl caught everybody by surprise, including me, though conceptually it could be pretty awesome - more intuitive than SureType and if they get the keys right it could be easy to type on. So plausible, but still "rumor."  Over the course of the day though, I received confirmation from a couple of sources who verified that the Pearl would in fact be offered in two keyboard configurations - SureType and Full Qwerty, and hence updated the original post to say that it looks like we will in fact someday be seeing a Full Physical Qwerty on a new Pearl. Cool stuff. 

But dreaming on it last night and also looking at some emails we received from CrackBerry readers (having the same dreams and thoughts as me apparently - thx to Michael for his great email in particular), this morning we took another closer look at what we were seeing. And what it seems is that this new keyboard that showed up yesterday would look MUCH more at home on a PEARL FLIP device than on a PEARL CANDYBAR device. Note how the button configuration around the trackpad matches the original Pearl Flip as does the more rounded corners above the buttons. Looking at the image on the far right that surfaced previously of the Pearl 9100, the new full-qwerty keyboard (at least the one shown in the image above) wouldn't fit so smoothly onto the candybar style. The candybar design puts the buttons in a row and it's a much straighter line across the top below the display. Also, the current Pearl Flip uses the "guitar frets" -- akin to those on the BlackBerry Bold series -- so there is more Pearl Flip precedent for the look of this new full qwerty keyboard to go on a Pearl Flip than it does on a Pearl candybar which we have already seen in 9100 candybard photos does not feature the frets.

So all that said, it could be what what we're looking at here in the months ahead is not only the release of a BlackBerry Pearl 9100 in candy bar configuration, but also the release of a BlackBerry Pearl Flip 9100 (or 91xx) that features a full physical qwerty. We really haven't heard anything previously about a Pearl Flip update though with so many codenames "out there" it's hard to keep things straight, though it does make sense that RIM would put out a new revision at some point to the flip form factor. Heck, with 3G, a Full Physical Qwerty and OS 6.0 with Webkit browser, it might even be a pretty nice phone to carry around in your pocket. Going with this theory of a new Pearl Flip that uses this new keyboard, looking at the photos above you can see that the new keyboard/button assembly would take up less height that than current Pearl Flip layout - meaning it could be a tighter device and not look so monsterous when you crack it open. But also the fact that the whole assembly is so tight also lends to RIM likely being able to toss a full keyboard onto the standard keyboard if they want to. So there are a lot of potential options here for what you could see get released down the road. Maybe it's just a Pearl 9100 with SureType. Maybe it's a 9100 with your choice of SureType or Full Qwerty. Maybe it's a candybar and a flip, with the flip getting the full qwerty and the candybar getting SureType. Or maybe it's both candybar and flip and you can have your choice of keyboard on either. Or maybe it's even a new Pearl Flip keyboard that was meant to be but got scrapped?

It's a thought anyways that makes for some Friday Fun Speculation. Let us know what you think in the comments!

Reader comments

Friday Fun Speculation: Could RIM Also Be Working on an Update to the BlackBerry Pearl Flip?


It's definitely plausible, but I think it wouldn't be a great idea for RIM to make another Pearl Flip after the bomb that was the 8230.

...with the buttons around the trackpad. But didn`t we hear that RIM decided to NOT release another Pearl flip??

Otherweise what do you guys think, would it make sense to cut down the product line while your pushing yourself forward into new customer sections like RIM does these days??I mean just how many women and teens do love both flip and slider phones??

IMO it can`t be that bad to provide a 3G flip device...

I think they should offer candybar style with option of full QWERTY or Suretype. I seen less and less people using flip phones these days.

Giving the Pearl flip another go is probably a good idea, but, I have thought since I first looked upon a Blackberry that a Portrait flip, traditional sized blackberry would be a great idea. Being in construction and active outdoors, having a keyboard and screen that would close on itself would keep them from damage and also keep the phone from butt dialing without need to lock the keyboard (side option keys would lock upon closing). My next wish would be making it weather-proof.

I will NEVER buy one of these, but I don't see the problem here. As long as it doesn't degrade the quality of other phones being released, I don't see how its a bad thing to broaden the customer base. The "Business only" stigma that BB has right now is whats hurting it for us non Business phone users. I love how the emails work and the security, but I do enjoy apps and games occasionally. Bringing on more non working women and children should only draw in more developers.

I think RIM should scrap the Pearl Flip, offer both keyboard options on the Pearl (or just the qwerty)and produce it in like 4 colors for every carrier so we can grab some non business consumers and Palm Converts.

Palm Converts and people upgrading from a textcentric dumb phone have no confidence or knowledge of suretype but know qwerty well.

One final consideration is current Berry users that need/want a smaller form factor and refuse to abandon old trusty qwerty form factor.

Also, that keyboard could still be from the new Pearl as the videos etc. were pre production, the frets etc could be a revision to complement the bold line etc.

Personally, I think there are enough entry to mid-level Blackberries on the market. If the new 9100 becomes a reality, regardless of what keyboard it has, I think it will be a big hit. There is no need to create some flip phone that more or less does the EXACT same thing as the 9100. I personally do not believe form factor (to flip or not to flip) is the issue here.

When the first iPhone came out, that thing was pretty bulky compared to most other phones on the market, barring a few devices. Did the iPhone's form factor stop it from becoming a HUGE cellphone success?? No, not even close. I think people will put just about anything in their pocket if it works well and offers them lots of functionality options.

Maybe it is just me, but seeing another entry level Blackberry makes me believe RIM is missing the big picture. A smartphone for every user is good, but offer a smartphone that has the capabilities people want.

Who is to say the Pearl is going to be an entry-level device, if they give it the same features as the bold 9700 then you have a reasonably high end device that simply suits somebody that still considers the phone the most important feature on their phone while still having access to all the messaging etc. of a blackberry.

I've said on other forums several that RIM should make a Blackberry that looks like the LG Lotus (i.e. flip with a full keyboard). A lot of people still like the compact size of a flip and the fact that the keyboard is protected when the flip is closed. Many girlfriends of mine have accidentally called me from their Blackberries because they didn't lock the keyboard before putting it in their purse.

However I don't want to see RIM abandon SureType. Once you learn how to type on a SureType keyboard, you can type really fast. I type faster on the SureType keyboard on my Pearl 8130, Storm 9530 and Storm2 9550 than on my Curve 8300 and Tour 9630.

i'm already excited about the 9100 now if this rumor is true, i'd grab a 3g qwerty flip in a heartbeat!

is because of poor marketing on Verizon's part. I have one and I happy with it. I went from a Motorola RAZR to an 8230.

I agree they should make the phone a wider and add a key board. RIM should also increase the memory to 256K and make and add a stronger battery.

I think it wil be a great addition if it's done right! The original Pearl flip was awkward (weird hinge) and had a cheap feel about it. The one advantage the flip has over any other blackberry on the market - 2 screens. It has HUGE capabilities if the O/S supports it. Imagine being able to toggle between email updates, bbm convo updates and ringer profile options from the side key WITHOUT HAVING TO OPEN THE PHONE! Seriously, there are endless possibilities to leverage with the dual screen if it's done right.

Given that the flip form factor is not generally popular outside of north america, maybe they'll have the 9100 for gsm carriers and make a cdma flip.

When I was in the T-Mobile Store today, I mentioned that I would like to see the trackpad they used on the 8500 series integrated into a Pearl, and the store rep told me it wasn't gonna happen as RIM is doing away with the Pearl (the 8120 is completely outmoded and isn't being sold anymore).

looking at the layout of the Send, End, Back, and Blackberry buttons, I'd say this is more likely to be a pearl flip design, too. But just to keep up on the device numbering, I would think it to be the pearl flip 9200 series, rather than continuing the 9100 series with the flip design.

The Pearl Flip is actually large enough to support a full QWERTY keyboard within itself, both in width and height, so I'd say that is more likely than the 9100 being made available with the full QWERTY keypad...

What would be wrong with a flip phone with the full QWERTY on it? It wouldn't be as wide as some of the very square designs from other manufacturers we have seen, and a flip design is still very in. Personally I'd welcome the device and its design... even though I'm now holding out for either the Blackberry Slider or the Storm3

I currently have a 8220 and am happy with it, but I always thought that if RIM made a new flip and fixed it's predecessors flaws I would absolutely get one. But after reading rumors about how they weren't and were going to the candybar pearl I was about to upgrade to the 9700. But after reading this and seeing how tmo and verizon are discontinuing the current flips after a year, it makes perfect sense that the flip2 is coming and I can't wait.

ATTENTION RIM: Keep the Flip. I have an 8220 and agree with the others that say make a wider screen. Enjoy my flip all the way. Do what you have to do to keep it. There's enough of us out there that don't want to see it go. Just make it better and we'll move forward with you.

Interesting to see since the Pearl 9100 seems to have a curved bottom row for the SureType keys, but the QWERTY keyboard doesn't have the same curve (so it doesn't look like it will fit into a 9100). I guess this means there may still be a flip on the way...

I'm a Tour user now, with Verizon. Converted from a lovely red Palm Centro (on Sprint) that I absolutely adored. I LOVED the size of the Centro, and have small fingers so keyboard size was never an issue. I miss my Centro but now that Big Red has the Pre I am surprisingly reluctant to leave BlackBerry as I thoroughly enjoy everything BlackBerry has to offer. I have longed for a flip form-factor with a "brain" included, but in a million years would not give up a full QWERTY. A BlackBerry flip with full QWERTY would be the ultimate phone for me (with BOLD 9700 specs, of course!)!!! Bring it, RIM!!