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RIM Launches 1st BlackBerry Flip

Waterloo, Ontario — Research In Motion (RIM) launched its first BlackBerry clamshell phone, which U.S. carrier T-Mobile plans to offer in the fall, and announced the availability of AOL Mail and AOL’s AIM and ICQ instant-messaging services on BlackBerry smartphones.

T-Mobile has not yet announced a specific launch date or price on the BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220 phone, a quadband GSM/EDGE model that weighs 3.6 ounces and measures about 3.9 inches by 1.9 inches by 0.7 inches. Key features of the chrome-finish device include SureType hybrid dialing/QWERTY keypad technology and built-in IEEE 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi and Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology, which T-Mobile uses for its Wi-Fi-based home-phone landline-replacement service. The device also comes with DataViz Documents to Go software suite for editing Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Other features include 2-megapixel camera, media player, microSD/SDHC memory card slot and BlackBerry Maps navigation service.

The phone features two light-sensing color displays. The internal 240 by 320-pixel display is used for viewing Web pages, messages and video, while the external display lets users preview incoming messages and calls without opening the handset. The browser gives users the option of viewing pages in desktop-style HTML format or mobile format.

Other features include speaker-independent voice recognition for voice-activated dialing, conference calling, speed dialing, call forwarding, voicemail-attachment playback and enhanced background noise cancellation. It also features a speakerphone, stereo Bluetooth 2.0 and a 900mAhr battery that delivers four hours of talktime or more than 14 days of standby time.

It accesses BlackBerry email services allowing for up to 10 supported personal and work email accounts, and it works with the new BlackBerry Media Sync PC application to sync iTunes digital music collections with the phone’s music library.

Separately, RIM and AOL announced the availability of AOL Mail and AIM and ICQ instant-messaging services on BlackBerry smartphones. The applications are available now in the United States for free downloading from a BlackBerry site.

With the app, AOL Mail is automatically delivered to RIM’s smartphones, which will also be able to send and receive pictures via AIM and ICQ accounts; display AIM or ICQ messages in the BlackBerry smartphone inbox; view a list of online buddies; associate a contact in the phone’s IM contact list to the respective contact in their BlackBerry Address Book; and initiate a phone call, email, SMS or MMS from within their AIM or ICQ session.