Greetings from the press area at Moscone West in downtown San Francisco. I gotta say, I'm loving this makeshift press area - I'm sitting with Tom and Doug at a table next to two stories of windows overlooking downtown. And it's a nice day out, to boot. Good stuff, CTIA.
While the big consumer device news is yet to come later today (meeting with HTC) and tonight (Mobile Focus press event), I did get some hands-on time with the two new Blackberries on the show floor just now. First was the Bold, which I got to play around with at a hotel bar a few weeks back while at Intel's Developers Forum. Today I got a little more time with it, and I'm generally impressed. Blackberry's made their user interface sleeker and hipper - which should add to the mainstream consumer appeal of the Bold and Flip - and the new UI looks great on Bold's rich, bright display. The rumors are true, Bold has one of the best looking displays currently available on any phone. Beyond that, the device looks and feels like a thinner, cooler-looking Curve. The trackball's there, the keyboard is slightly redesigned and feels good, and the whole thing is done up in a very iPhone-esque black with chrome trim.
The Flip - or Blackberry Pearl Flip 8220, as it's officially known - is a slightly chunky flip phone with a SureType keypad and trackball on the inside. While it's cool that Blackberry made a flip phone, I personally wasn't so into this one. It works well and the internal display and keypad are both nice and roomy, but the phone is just too big and chunky looking for my tastes. That said, if you're into the design you'll probably like Flip just fine - the new UI looks good, the SureType keypad is larger and easier to use than the one on the original Pearl, and the 3.5mm headphone jack and 2MP camera with flash bring some entertainment value to the mix, as well (Bold's got the camera and headphone jack, too, don't worry).
While there's no official word on a US release for Bold, RIM and T-Mobile have announced that Flip will launch sometime this Fall as a T-Mobile exclusive. Pricing and an exact launch date have not yet been disclosed, however.
And, oh yeah ... we've got video of both devices in action for ya ... it's uploading as I write this, in fact.