Now faster than ever before, the fully-featured BlackBerry Curve 3G offers both 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity for speedy downloads.
The family of BlackBerry Curve smartphone devices from Research In Motion (RIM) now has a new and improved member: the stylish looking and high-speed data enabled BlackBerry Curve 3G. This affordable handset is based on a traditional BlackBerry design with a full keyboard and features the famous push email service and much more besides.
As an update to the original BlackBerry Curve, the most important addition to the device is 3G (HSDPA), ensuring email attachments download faster and web pages render more quickly. Wi-Fi is also onboard for additional connectivity and we managed to quickly hook up a solid connection with our local network.
Thereís also BlackBerry Messenger for instantly communicating with other BlackBerry users, a viable alternative to text messaging and most importantly free of charge. Last but not least RIMís renowned push email service is as reliable and efficient as ever.
BlackBerry Desktop Manager 6 is a neat bit of software that allows you to synchronise, manage and update content on a PC or Apple Mac, including transferring media files to and from your BlackBerry smartphone. You can also manage applications and easily update your device software.
The optical trackpad as seen on various other BlackBerry devices is retained here, requiring just a light swipe of the thumb or finger to smoothly navigate in a certain direction or a firm press to select items. Itís a tried and trusted solution that works very well for navigating the internal menu or for browsing web pages.
This is flanked by the customary menu and back keys, with call and end call buttons outside these. Below sits the full QWERTY keyboard Ė itís ergonomically shaped with sizeable, well-pronounced and clearly delineated buttons that make it easy to type out longer messages.
A set of music or video player control keys in a rubberised strip across the top of the device allow you to play/pause, fast forward, rewind and skip tracks without the need to take the phone out of standby. Elsewhere the side panels feature embedded volume controls and two customisable shortcut buttons for direct access to your preferred applications.
The Curve 3G retains the overall design principles of the previous BlackBerry Curve 8520 smartphone, with exactly the same dimensions and in fact weighs in at two grams lighter. RIM has however added slightly more rounded corners and a sleek metallic finish to the perimeter of the front fascia. The battery cover on the back and the side panels are formed out of a tactile rubber material that makes the device comfortable to hold and offers protection against bumps and knocks.
The device runs on BlackBerry 5.0, an operating system that will be familiar to users of previous BlackBerry Curve or BlackBerry Bold smartphones. Itís incredibly simple and intuitive to use with a friendly icon-based menu thatís fully customisable. The six icons at the bottom of the home screen replicate the six at the top of the internal menu, these can be switched around so your favourite functions are always accessible.
A host of programs are included on the device for both business and entertainment needs. Alongside the multimedia apps are MemoPad, Calculator and Voice Notes, plus a suite of Office apps to open Word, Powerpoint and Excel documents. You also get five games including Sudoku, Poker and BrickBreaker titles. Many more applications, games and themes can be downloaded from the thriving BlackBerry App World online store.
For other entertainment purposes the BlackBerry Curve 3G has a fine music and video player thatís a doddle to operate using the trackpad, thanks to a handy row of neat playback control icons at the foot of the screen. A set of headphones (which also acts as a handsfree kit) is included in the box or you can run your own through the 3.5mm jack. The music player also supports album art, Stereo Bluetooth and playlist creation on the move.
The onboard camera is only a two-megapixel affair, yet in decent lighting conditions it still produces adequate images that are fine for sending to friends or uploading to Facebook, for example. Thereís no flash or autofocus, but you do get a
5x zoom and the camera software itself is extremely intuitive to operate. You can also easily shoot video clips in QVGA (320×240 pixels).
Thanks to the built-in GPS sensor captured pictures can be tagged with their geographical location. Both BlackBerry Maps and Google Maps applications are onboard to offer a choice of navigation services.
The price is right
Perhaps the best feature of the BlackBerry Curve 3G is its moderate price tag, particularly when you consider how many features are included on the device. Whilst some of these may not be the most high-spec out there, in particular the low-grade camera, when combined with diverse connectivity options and excellent usability it all adds up to a highly competitive all-round package.
As a dedicated messaging and entertainment device the Curve 3G is a sensible and reliable option that will appeal to both seasoned BlackBerry users looking for an upgrade and newcomers to RIMís world.
The BlackBerry Curve 3G retains all the features and characteristics of the original Curve device, throwing in high-speed 3G data for good measure. With Wi-Fi also onboard it represents excellent connectivity options and ensures a smoother browsing and downloading experience. Elsewhere the traditional BlackBerry interface and messaging services are as strong as ever, plus thereís a decent entertainment suite. The one thing that lets this device down is its weak camera, but at such a moderate price tag most users wonít be too fussed about that.
Ratings (out of 5)
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|BlackBerry Curve 3G|
|OS||BlackBerry OS 5.0 / Java|
|Bands||2G: Quad-Band / 3G: Quad-Band|
|Screen||2.64inch / 320×240 pixels / 65k colours|
|Camera||2MP / 5x zoom / 1600×1200 pixels|
|Video||Record / Playback|
|Audio||Music player / Stereo Bluetooth / 3.5mm jack|
|Memory||256MB Flash / up to 32GB MicroSDHC card|
|Battery||4.5hrs talktime /456hrs standby|
|Other||BlackBerry Mail, Media keys|