RIM refreshes BlackBerry models ahead of WES event

Research In Motion unveiled refreshed versions of two of its smartphones ahead of its Wireless Enterprise Symposium and Capital Markets Day in Orlando, Fla., this week. The BlackBerry maker also hinted it has several more announcements up its sleeve, possibly regarding new versions of its operating system and browser.

BlackBerry Bold 9650 SmartphoneRIM took the wraps off the BlackBerry Bold 9650, the successor to its BlackBerry Tour, a move that gives CDMA carriers the chance to launch the Bold--RIM's flagship device that had previously only been available to U.S. GSM carriers. The phone supports dual-band CDMA/EV-DO Rev. A networks as well as quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS networks, allowing it to roam globally.

The device also sports an optical tracking pad, WiFi, GPS and a 3.2-megapixel camera, and will be available next month from Sprint Nextel and Verizon Wireless, according to Reuters. Sprint said it will launch the device May 23 for $199.99 with a two-year contract and after a $100 mail-in rebate. A Verizon spokeswoman declined to comment on if, or when, the carrier will launch the device.

BlackBerry Pearl 3G SmartphoneAdditionally, RIM unveiled the Pearl 3G, its smallest smartphone, as well as its first to support 802.11n WiFi. The Pearl 3G, which has support for tri-band UMTS/HSDPA and quad-band EDGE/GPRS/GSM networks, will come in two keyboard variants--one with RIM's SureType 20-key layout and one with the 14-key traditional phone keyboard. No U.S. carriers were announced for the device, which will launch in May.

RIM also announced a new version of its Mobile Voice System that supports voice over WiFi calling. Click here for the full story.

More than the new phones though, much of the excitement surrounding this year's WES event centers on an expected update to RIM's operating system and Web browser, actions analysts have been expecting for months. The OS is rumored to feature a much more touch-friendly user interface.

"We will have more announcements, so I am not going to comment on further announcements," co-CEO Jim Balsillie told Reuters. "[Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis] will be doing a keynote ... So I would tune in to his keynote and see what he has to say. I won't steal any of Mike's thunder."

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this IntoMobile post
- see this release and these pictures and specs for the new BlackBerry Bold
- see this release and these pictures and specs for the new BlackBerry Pearl 3G
- see this FierceBroadbandWireless article on RIM's voice over WiFi calling

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