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!