RIM unveils BlackBerry 8800 smartphone

Research In Motion (RIM) on Monday introduced the BlackBerry 8800, a new smartphone that builds on the media playing capabilities of RIM’s the BlackBerry Pearl phone. The 8800 will debut later this month in North America through AT&T, the same carrier that will carry Apple’s iPhone in June, starting at $299 with a two-year service commitment. It’s also coming to Canada from Rogers Wireless.

Like the 8700, the 8800 features a full QWERTY keyboard and 320 x 240 pixel color LCD display. Like the Pearl, the 8800 features a trackball navigation system. It also sports a built-in media player and microSD memory slot for storage of music and videos.

The media player supports MP3 and unprotected AAC music files; it can also display MPEG-4 and H.263 video content. The phone supports polyphonic, MP3 and MIDI ringtones.

Apple’s Sync Services software doesn’t natively support RIM’s BlackBerry smartphones, but since January 2006 RIM has offered free Mac connectivity software — PocketMac for BlackBerry, developed by Information Appliance Associates.

The 8800 is a quad-band phone with support for GSM/GPRS and EDGE, and also touts built-in Global Positioning System (GPS) support. You can find routes and locations using the included BlackBerry Maps application.

Other features include noise cancellation, voice activated dialing, conference calling, speakerphone and Bluetooth 2.0 support.

The BlackBerry 8800 measures 4.49 x 2.6 x 0.55 inches, and weighs 4.73 ounces. That’s almost a quarter inch thinner than the 8700 model, but it’s still thicker than the Apple iPhone, which measures 4.5 x 2.4 x 0.46 inches and features a wider screen.

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