BlackBerry fans will flip over the new Pearl 8220

Blackberrypearlflip8220I’ve been a flip-phone fan ever since my Motorola StarTAC days, but much of the smartphone market has stayed away from the form factor. There have been a few exceptions and RIM adds another one today with the launch of their BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220 on T-Mobile’s network.The 3.6-ounce handset is small like most flippers, only taking up 3.9” x 1.96” x 0.68” of space when folded. Even with the small size, RIM still saw fit to include a 2.4-inch QVGA display. Text entry tends to be T9 with a flip form factor, but the Pearl Flip leverages the SureType keyboard found on earlier candybar ‘Berrys. The unique entry system offers word prediction combined with keys that handle two letters the alphabet; you can catch a demo of the system here.The Pearl Flip is chock-full of features, in fact, other than 3G support on T-Mobile’s fast new network, there isn’t much that’s missing from what I can see:

  • WiFi which supports T-Mobile’s Unlimited HotSpot calling, Bluetooth with A2DP support for wireless stereo sound
  • MyFaves support
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • 128MB of internal flash memory, 256MB microSD card included, supports up to 16GB of SDHC microSD
  • 2.0-megapixel camera with integrated flash and digital zoom, video recording support

If you’re doing somersaults over the Flip, you can find it at T-Mobile retail locations and online starting today. The phone is launching in black, but T-Mo says you should see it in red within a few weeks. The handset retails for $349.99, but I see a $150 instant discount and a $50 mail-in rebate right now online, bringing the phone down to $149.99 with a contract.With the Pearl Flip, RIM continues to make moves into the consumer space and blur the lines between feature-phone and smartphone. Clearly the approach is helping the company’s strategy since they more than doubled their market share between the second quarter of 2007 and the same period in 2008.