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BlackBerry Gemini Photos Surface

Early pictures of the anticipated BlackBerry Gemini, or Curve 8520, reveal some new features.

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According to Crackberry.com, which published the first true pictures of the Gemini late last week, the smartphone, also known as the Curve 8520, takes many of its cues from current BlackBerry models but features an updated look.

The pictures show that the Gemini ditches the popular BlackBerry trackball, which made its debut with the BlackBerry Pearl in 2006. Instead of the rolling trackball, the Gemini features an "optical trackball" that has no movable parts. The optical trackball appears similar to a trackpad mouse on many laptop models.

Along with the new trackball design, the Curve 8520 is expected to feature dedicated media player buttons, along with an LCD protector on the front of the phone that is expected to extend down over the buttons.

In addition, the perimeter of the Gemini is rubberized, and the device features rubber-coated buttons for protection and appearance.

The pictures also indicate that the Gemini Curve 8520 won't feature 3G connectivity; instead it will offer EDGE and Wi-Fi. Further details of the Gemini were not available.

The recent pictures show a dramatically different smartphone than what early rumors of the Gemini indicated.

So far, no information on pricing and no release date for the Gemini are available.

The Gemini is just one of several new smartphones RIM is expected to release this year. Another anticipated BlackBerry, the BlackBerry Niagara, is expected to be released sometime this spring or summer.

The Niagara is expected to be similar to BlackBerry's popular line of Curve smartphones—bigger but still smaller than the BlackBerry bold. It is expected to feature a 480 x 320 screen and run a 624MHz CPU processor.

BlackBerry Niagara is also expected to run BlackBerry OS 4.6 and feature a full QWERTY keyboard. Other features include a GPS, a 3.2-megapixel camera and support for BES 5.0.

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