The BlackBerry Pearl smartphone isn't new, but the flip, or clamshell, design of the BlackBerry Pearl 8220 Flip certainly represents a big change for the leading business smartphone maker, RIM.

Make no mistake: the design of the BlackBerry Pearl 8220 Flip is significant news for RIM. The first iteration of the BlackBerry Pearl, the 8100, featured candy-bar styling - like the vast majority of RIM's devices before and since. Roughly a year later, RIM announced a CDMA version of the device for US customers, the Pearl 8130, with a slightly different design-most notably, a repositioned camera lens and an external memory card slot. Since then, various carriers have released the device in custom colours, but everything else about the Pearl has largely remained the same.

That all changes in a big way with the BlackBerry Pearl 8220 Flip. The quad-band EDGE/GPRS/GSM (850/900/1800/1900MHz) device with Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g) was initially unveiled in September at the CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment event in San Francisco.

RIM decided to stick with the Pearl name for its newest smartphone, as well as a similar-yet-larger SureType keyboard. But that's where the similarities end. The BlackBerry Pearl 8220 Flip's new flip design features two high-resolution LCDs, one on the inside of the device when opened and another external display for when it's closed, which lets you receive notifications, see caller/sender ID information, as well as scroll through and preview new messages.

The BlackBerry Pearl 8220 Flip runs on RIM's latest handheld operating system, BlackBerry OS v4.6, which offers a wide variety of great new features, including the ability to receive HTML email with images, create custom icon-screen folders for better organisation, and even put the device into Safe Mode, which can help to identify and eliminate problem applications. And this phone has double the amount of flash memory of previous Pearls with 128MB, though the processor speed remains the same at 312MHz.

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