The BlackBerry Curve 3G is the latest smartphone from a very successful manufacturer. A central part of the BlackBerry Curve ‘look’ is the upwardly curved miniature QWERTY keyboard so beloved of mobile email and SMS fans. Its keys are separated from each other and raised nicely from the baseplate.
These are factors which help make it a fast keyboard. But the build here isn’t quite as good as the very best RIM has to offer. It is not a disaster by any means, but just slightly less comfortable – and fast – to use as the very best.
Above the keyboard is a familiar looking area containing RIM’s Back and Menu buttons, Call and End buttons, and, in the middle, an optical trackpad with ‘press to select’ feature. You’ll need to use this a lot as, unlike many modern smartphones but like most handsets from RIM, the BlackBerry Curve 3G does not have a touch screen.
In fact, the screen is one of two major disappointments. It is necessarily small: it has to be pinched to leave space for the keyboard. Our problem isn’t with its 2.4 diagonal inches though, but with the resolution. At 320 x 240 pixels this is low by modern standards. A previous Curve, the 8900, had the same sized screen and a generous 360 x 480 pixels, as does the BlackBerry Bold 9700. But this time we’ve seen a backtracking for the Curve; perhaps it is RIM’s way of differentiating the Bold and Curve lines.
The other disappointment is the operating system. RIM recently announced a new OS – version 6 – but the BlackBerry Curve 3G has not launched running it. Instead you get the tried and tested OS 5. RIM says you’ll be able to upgrade at a later date, though there’s no definite information on when that will be.
RIM has worked hard in recent years to make its smartphones media and youth friendly. The BlackBerry Curve 3G repeats a feature we’ve seen before in having three media playback buttons on its top edge. You can pause and go forwards and back in tunes using these, even when you are running other apps.
There is also a little beefing up to the superb mobile email support in the shape of the ability to synchronise gmail contacts and import Facebook pictures. However the camera leaves a lot to be desired. Shooting stills at 2 megapixels, video at 360 x 240 and without a flash it is way, way behind the best.
The BlackBerry Curve 3G is the first Curve to have a 3G connection. RIM used to produce different versions of the same handset with a mix of GPS and Wi-Fi available; you had to choose which you wanted. That convention has, thankfully, gone, and the BlackBerry Curve 3G comes with both, and its Wi-Fi supports 802.11n for super fast connections.
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