RIM Refreshes BlackBerry Bold, Pearl Handsets

Research In Motion (s rimm) today introduced two new BlackBerry handsets — the Bold 9650 and the Pearl 3G — in advance of the company’s Wireless Electronics Symposium, which officially begins tomorrow in Orlando, Fla. Both handsets are slightly redesigned, updated models of currently available BlackBerry devices, but neither runs on the new BlackBerry operating system, screenshots of which surfaced last week.
The Bold 9650 supports both GSM/CDMA networks for voice and HSPA/EVDO for wireless data, allowing for potential support on all major U.S. carriers and use by international travelers. Such network flexibility comes at a price, however — talk and standby times for the Bold 9650 are 5 hours and 13 days, less than the 6 hours and 17 days of battery life on the currently available Bold 9700. Nearly all other features and known specifications of the 9650 are comparable to the 9700, including the 3.2-megapixel camera, integrated GPS radio and optical trackpad.
The new Pearl 3G — HSPA only, no EVDO — is also comparable to current BlackBerry models, but gains 802.11n Wi-Fi support for faster wireless transfers over a greater range. Gone is the trackball from the new Pearl 3G, which is replaced by the same optical trackpad found on the new Bold model. The Pearl’s camera sensor is bumped to 3.2 megapixels and supports auto-focus, 2.5x digital zoom and video recording. Based on the supported frequencies, the Pearl 3G will work on both the T-Mobile and AT&T (s t) networks for voice and high-speed data in the U.S.
Upgraded handsets are usually welcomed by consumers, but these two devices are only prolonging the inevitable for RIM. To continue growing market share against the likes of Android (s goog) and iPhone (s aapl), the new BlackBerry operating system needs to arrive sooner rather than later. And it must include that WebKit-based browser that RIM has in the works, too. BlackBerry devices may be king of email activities, but consumers are already using the web for social networking more than they’re emailing. It’s time for Research In Motion to get in motion on the new OS.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):
Three Things RIM Must Do to Remain a Player in Superphones