The Pearl 3G 9105 was a major upgrade to the highly successful Pearl portfolio. It added tri-band UMTS/HSDPA 3G, a 3.2-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi and GPS to the original 2G Pearl 8100
which was launched in September 2006.
The phone came with a traditional 14-key layout (similar to a standard mobile phone). It was a sister product to the Pearl 9100
, which had a 20-key condensed qwerty keypad.
Other notable features were a higher resolution screen and inclusion of both GPS and Wi-Fi in the Pearl family for the first time. The Pearl 3G also saw the transition from a trackball to an optical trackpad, which had become a standard feature on RIM's latest generation of hardware.
The Pearl 9105 was available in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia/Pacific. It used RIM's SureType software, which allowed text to be entered on its 14-key layout.
When it announced the Pearl 9105, RIM was betting on the fact that users in Europe and Asia/Pacific (particularly younger, first-time BlackBerry owners) were already comfortable with input on a standard phone keypad thanks to prolific use of text messaging in these regions. The 9105 was positioned as an aspirational, "bridge" product, easing the transition from a traditional feature phone to a BlackBerry device. This bet paid off the Pearl 9105 was a huge success.
By using a standard keypad, RIM was also able to position its devices more easily alongside traditional phones, particularly in a retail setting. This helped RIM extend the reach of its devices so they were less likely to be positioned as e-mail or messaging-centric devices first and phones second.
The 9105 was particularly well-placed to help RIM expand into markets where it was hard to use a traditional qwerty keypad layout. The 14-key configuration made support of additional languages easier, including Arabic, five-stroke Chinese and Cyrillic.