Well. This one came out of left field. In the wake of leaked images of what appears to be Research In Motion's (RIM) first BlackBerry "slider" device, another interesting picture has surfaced, this time from Chinese cell-phone parts-retailer TrueSupplier.
The image looks like a replacement keyboard for RIM's as-of-yet unannounced BlackBerry Pearl successor, the Pearl 9100. In fact, the image is labeled " OEM Blackberry Pearl 9100 Keyboard Keypad Black."
This picture is note-worthy because it seems to suggest the BlackBerry Pearl, heretofore known for its "SureType" keyboard that squeezes multiple characters onto single keys to conserve space, will be available in a full QWERTY version—or maybe you'll be able to switch out the keyboard for a full QWERTY?
The pictured Pearl 9100 keyboard looks just like RIM's popular "Bold-style" fretted keyboard, but it's significantly thinner.
It's unclear if the BlackBerry Pearl 9100, which should be announced by RIM in the coming months, will be available in two versions: one with the traditional Pearl SureType keyboard; and another with the Bold-style, full QWERTY keypad. Early images of the Pearl 9100 show a SureType keypad, as might be expected.
However, the TrueSupplier image does seem to suggest we're about to see a whole new "flavor" of Pearl hit the market...or a "mini Bold"...or perhaps another BlackBerry device line, altogether.
I'm familiar with TrueSupplier—I frequently purchase parts from the site. And it's not at all uncommon to see replacement parts listed for unannounced BlackBerry devices. The same site also has number of cases listed for the Pearl 9100. I can't vouch for the legitimacy of the TrueSupplier image—who knows, some joker could've posted fake images--but the keyboard sure does look legit to me.
I've never been a fan of the Pearl SureType keyboard—I'm far too impatient to waste time fiddling with those keys and their associated predictive text software. So a full QWERTY for the Pearl 9100 would be a very welcome addition, at least from where I'm standing.