Research In Motion is continuing its assault on the consumer market and unveiled the BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220 smartphone, the first BlackBerry phone to come in the flip form factor.

RIM says the new Pearl Flip provides flip phone fans with all the power of a BlackBerry smartphone in a "fun and familiar design".

The quad-band EDGE-based BlackBerry Pearl Flip smartphone gets a chrome-finished frame, weighs 3.6 ounces and measures approximately 3.9 x 1.9 x 0.7-inches.

Featuring two high-res, light-sensing colour displays, the external LCD is for previewing emails, text messages and calls without opening the handset, while the internal LCD gets a 240 x 320 resolution.

With RIM's SureType QWERTY keyboard, the new Flip effort gets integrated access to the BlackBerry services such as RIM's BlackBerry Enterprise Server email solution, DataViz Documents to Go software for productivity and internet access.

There's a media player for pics, music and videos, new Media Sync for iTunes hook-up, microSD/SDHC memory card slot that supports up to 16GB, USB connectivity, speakerphone and Bluetooth and a claimed 4 hours of talk time.

The phone offers built-in Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g) and has a 2-megapixel camera with flash, zoom and video recording. There's no GPS but it does offer BlackBerry Maps.

The BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220 smartphone will be available from carriers around the world this autumn, with more details to be revealed nearer the time.