The latest BlackBerry to surface has been named the Essex. The device is the next iteration of the BlackBerry Tour aka the BlackBerry Niagara aka the BlackBerry 9630.
The Essex looks just like the Tour in size and the major adjustments are in form factor, as well as a couple features such as WiFi will be added.
As with many BlackBerry devices, one of the first things you’ll notice is the keyboard. The Essex has opted out of the Bold style keyboard and chosen a chicklet style Curve keyboard. The BlackBerry community is fairly divided on Curve vs the Bold keyboards, so it makes sense for RIM to change it up and offer both alternatives.
The Essex will also come with the new trackpad, which at this point we have to assume will come standard with all BlackBerry devices that once had a trackball. Again, the device will be a World Phone, capable of roaming between CDMA and GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS networks.
There is also a rumor that this device will be heading to Sprint, which was loosely confirmed when a Sprint exec said we will see a WiFi enabled Tour this year.
Tour owners, how do you feel about RIM launching this device so soon after you bought your 9630? Is WiFi, a trackpad and a new keyboard layout something you would have liked on your device?
UPDATE: I’m going to concede that the keyboard might actually be the same. When you put the two devices side by side, it looks like the keys are a little more separated in a Curve fashion, but it could easily just be the lighting. I’m sure we’ll see more pics coming soon which will clarify.