In late April, BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) unveiled two new smartphones: the BlackBerry Pearl 9100/9105; and the BlackBerry Bold 9650. At the time, RIM told the media and attendees of its annual Wireless Enterprise Symposium (WES) that both devices were expected to be announced by U.S. wireless carriers in May.
The new Bold 9650 is currently available in the United States on both Sprint and Verizon Wireless. But the BlackBerry Pearl 9100 is nowhere to be seen, at least in the United States…yet. (The Pearl 9100 is available in Canada and elsewhere. And the Pearl 9105, which is identical to the Pearl 9100 but with a traditional “T9” cell phone keypad instead of RIM’s “SureType” keyboard, is not expected to be sold in North America at all. Read why here.)
Replacement 9100 parts with AT&T branding have, however, been available on Chinese cell-phone accessories site TrueSupplier for weeks, which seems to suggest AT&T will indeed get the new Pearl. It’s just a matter of when.
At WES, it was mostly assumed both AT&T and T-Mobile would get the Pearl 9100 in the coming month, but for unknown reasons, neither carrier, nor any other U.S. wireless service provider, has announced the handset. Recent rumors suggest that T-Mobile may be skipping over the device entirely, though I must say, that doesn’t make any sense at all to me, as T-Mobile was the first U.S. carrier to offer the original Pearl, and it, along with upgraded versions, have been quite popular. (An early version of the 9100 was also spotted with what appeared to be support for T-Mobile 3G.)
However, it’s beginning to look like that information may be accurate after all, since T-Mobile’s upcoming device lineup recently leaked…and it seems to include only one unidentified BlackBerry. That BlackBerry could be the Pearl 9100, but it’s much likely the BlackBerry Curve 9300, which has been spotted with T-Mobile branding.
The BlackBerry Pearl U.S. launch is clouded by uncertainty at this point, but it seems very likely that something is going on behind the scenes between RIM and its U.S. carrier partners. That or those carrier partners are simply trying to space out device launches to ensure maximum interest in the products.
It’s also worth noting that the replacement 9100 bottom cover with AT&T branding comes in “maroon,” so it’s likely the AT&T 3G Pearl will be available in the two-tone color-scheme currently available through Canadian carrier Rogers. As for when, I’m inclined to think the AT&T 3G Pearl will land any day now…but then again, I honestly expected it to be here by now.
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.