RIM to Market BlackBerry Pearl 9100 to Children and People w/ Small Hands by Offering Full Qwerty Keyboard Option?!

By Kevin Michaluk on 4 Mar 2010 11:34 am EST
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Full Physical Keyboard for the BlackBerry Pearl 9100

* Update: Lots of confirmation coming in today that the BlackBerry Pearl 9100 will definitely be offered in two versions, both with SureType and with Full Qwerty. Totally awesome!! *

What the heck?! Our pal Al Sacco over at CIO.com just posted an out of left field story found via twitter sourced from a site called TrueSupplier that is offering a FULL QWERTY keyboard replacement part for the not-yet-announced BlackBerry Pearl 9100 Smartphone. The photo and part looks real deal, but this is something I haven't heard about before and seems pretty crazy at first look. The BlackBerry Pearl series has always made use of RIM's SureType predictive text system, which places two letters on one physical button and we previously have seen photos and videos of the 9100 showing off the traditional SureType keyboard.

As crazy as it seems at first glance though and despite the joking title to this post, it could be plausible and might even be OK for "average" hands to type with. It's actually the Palm Pixi that gives me hope... it features a really narrow full physical qwerty keyboard that I have found is very comfortable to use and be accurate on. Plus SureType takes time to learn while a full keyboard is completely intuitive. The benefits could easily outweigh the cons here. Crazy stuff. Vote on the poll and drop in the comments what you think. I'm really curious to see if this pans out and we see this happen or if it's just wishful thinking.

[ CIO.com ]

Reader comments

RIM to Market BlackBerry Pearl 9100 to Children and People w/ Small Hands by Offering Full Qwerty Keyboard Option?!

50 Comments

that's nuts! Not really for me, but some people might like it. I think it's a great idea for RIM to give people more options. I wonder how the hardware and software ends will be handled... i.e. if it will be user-changeable.

The one thing I loved with my pearl was the bigger buttons and one handed texting while driving.

Now, we are not allowed to text anymore while driving so I went to the 9700;) Oh yeah, that and the more memory, speed, GPS, track pad.......

I've never liked SureType so I'm pleased to see RIM giving users who like small candy bar phones the option of a full qwerty keyboard.

I like this idea, like the option that the storm has for all the different types of keyboards, I think the other blackberries should have that option too

My first blackberry was the pearl 8120, I loved it and still have it. It looks brand new still in the original box. I found typing on it very easy and very fast. With sure type you only have to type 1/2 as many letters and the phone figures out the rest. It's very quick. The 9100 with 3g and all the bells and whistles as the 9700 has will be quite a phone. I'm using the 9700 now but the pearl 9100 would be a great phone with allot of power to throw in your pocket or take to a ball game.I am a self proclaimed gadget nut and will probably have to get me one of dem der devices.

I'm all into qwerty keypads. Seeing it on a smaller device such as the Pearl has got my interest piqued. But, honestly, there's a need for variation. If a consumer wants a full-qwerty keypad, he/she's got Bold, Curve, or Tour series to choose from. Pearl should keep its suretype keypad to give users a preference. Besides, the three aforementioned qwerty phones aren't that big.
But besides that, I've gotta not only see the Pearl qwertized but hold it as well. The qwerty keypad is an option, after all.

Theres only ONE button underneath each suretype key. There is no way this could work unless the hardware underneath the keyboard was changed. Would not work as a replacement part as stated...

yeah, exactly. that's why were not saying it's an accessory part for the 9100...i'm saying RIM would have to be offering this style of Pearl 9100 keyboard for sale from factory, or at least support it software wise for the accessory/replacement full qwerty to exist. so it would be an oem supported keyboard part. i think anyways. lol.  i'd like to try it, that's for sure.

Look at the full keyboard next to pics of the new Pearl. There's no way it would fit. And why are the back and BB buttons in the wrong place?

Think about how much you're cutting out of the phone width wise by moving the bb and back key under the send and end key. Makes plenty sense to me.

Has anyone taken the keyboard off a 9100 they already have to see if they already have enough buttons underneath for a full qwerty? Perhaps its already in place? Doubt it though...

those would be some seriously small keys - I fine the keys on my 8900 are borderline too small.....like others have said though, it takes more than just a new exterior keyboard - they will have to change the buttons/guts/hardware under the keys as well.

I got the pearl because it has bigger keys than the full-keyboard phones. Im not sure how RIM expects to fit a full keyboard on that device.

I am a teacher, and they have no need for a blackberry, but parents buy them these things anyway. Seems like a waste of $30 a month to me, but hey. I have students comment on my Tour and tell me about their bb's all the time. Drives me crazy. But they do have tricks and tips for me every now and again!

These would have to be special ordered or just be a new phone in all. I'm guessing the feedback from this news will run through RIM to see if it's worth manufacturing a device as this. I haven't checked out the Pixi yet, but it isn't about it being done before (squeezing a qwerty onto a narrow frame); it's about the cost in changes to have this part replace the suretype keypad.

This is actually a good idea, however the keyboards won't be interchangeable. They would have to make the device itself differently. I know some of the RIM engineers are going to read these feedbacks, and yes a pearl with a full keyboar would be sexy, even if the keys were wicked small. This is a better "idea" then the vertical slider... Just sayin'

They keypad piece on the 9100 is not the same as any other BlackBerry, it also has a metal piece attached to it on the back. Where I am assuming are the press points for the keys.

I hope RIM never abandons the SureType keyboard. I learned how to use it on my Pearl 8130 and then continued using it on my Storm 9530 and Storm2 9550. I can type faster on my Storm2 using the SureType keyboard than my Curve 8300 and Tour 9630.

I've had a Curve 8330 for about 4 months and I'm still FAR slower at typing on it than I was with my Pearl. #1 you have half as many keys to hit and #2 after you type a couple of letters, it autocompletes the word. Why has the autocomplete not come to the QWERTYs yet? WTF?

I was at a Sprint store recently and tried the Palm Pixi (probably one of the smaller QWERTY keyboards on the market) and was surprised how easily and accurately I could type! if 9100 is around the same size, it's going to be a hit!

I think someone mentioned that the keyboard had a metal plate on the back. This would allow for different silicon and points. So think about a small phone that you could change out the keyboard for qwerty, suretype, or for the old school, T9. Or how about r programmable buttons for kids, mom, dad, police.

Just some thoughts.

Cool idea, But you need a "It doesnt make any difference to me, I have giant hands" option in the poll

I like this. If it could be switched at will, it would be awesome. Also, lets see someone do the opposite and create a drop-in SureType keyboard for my Tour. :D

Now, the more I look at this pic, it makes me wonder if this would be more suited to a Pearl Flip given, 1) the location of the BB and Back buttons below the Send/End buttons and 2) the curvature along the top of the exposed keyboard. This looks more like the shape of the keyboard on the Flip than the Pearl. Hmmmmmm.....

This is just too ridiculous to believe, rim are known for their qwerty keyboards, but the more important thing is that they are also known for the quality of them and trying to squeeze a full qwerty onto a pearl would give a lousy user experience.

If the two versions is confirmed then I would say that it would be more likely that they would offer suretype and a slight variant on the basic suretype or even a standard keypad than they would a full qwerty.

The example of it being feasible because of a palm pixi isn't that applicable because they are only slightly narrower than a 9700.

Despite some fairly nice devices being released, I have always avoided the BlackBerry Pearl series like the plague specifically because of the SureType keyboard... I've used it once before and NEVER again!

A BlackBerry Pearl device with a "traditional" keyboard though? Now THAT is worth a closer look...

pearl w/"full" qwerty...and bold w/slider......another joke w/in 2 wks?

thats abit too much to handle in less than 2 wks...RIM RIM RIM....stop trying so hard to make those hidious "cool" invention plz...get ur friking feet back on the field!!!!!

Purchased the full version of Vlingo. Absolutely love it. The more I use it the better and faster it gets. Between Vlingo and Drivesafely I'm golden. Who needs a keyboard?

Put that keyboard on a Pearl Flip with more memory and faster processor and I'd be lined up to buy it!