The BlackBerry Curve 3G is a polished version of a BlackBerry classic with a few modern extras to bring it up to date with the current smartphone climate. As an entry level handset, we’re not expecting top notch stuff but at the same time, we’d hope that it doesn’t slip behind too much in terms of tech to make it worthy of committing to a lengthy contract. Can cheap still be cheerful?
The BlackBerry Curve 3G is every inch the traditional BlackBerry and retains the curved exterior of the original. At 109 x 60 x 13.9mm, it’s compact enough although it is tad on the chunky side, the plastic and rubber casing combination make it feel light and fluffy. The Curve 3G oozes corporate style with its stark black colourway and chrome edges and while the matted rubber backing feels a little odd, it is nonetheless sturdy. The solid theme continues with the well-put together QWERTY keyboard too.
The 4-row QWERTY keyboard will be RIM’s legacy and their fantastic communication devices have become synonymous with keypad quality. The keys are individually spaced out so it’s really easy to press the right one, and they also feel incredibly tough and built to last. The 2.46 inch TFT display isn’t so great though. Its low resolution of 320 x 240 puts it at the bottom of the pile when it comes to visual reproduction. The pictures it creates aren’t particularly sharp which really lets it down when it comes to browsing and watching video.
In between the display and QWERTY is the familiar navigation bar with call buttons, the menu key and the optical trackpad. This has divided opinion amongst tech testers but we found that it was incredibly responsive to the touch and made navigation a breeze. If anything, the touchpad is a little too sensitive but we soon got used to it and it really made the whole OS user experience fairly painless.
Power and Operating System
The BlackBerry Curve 3G is powered by an underwhelming 624MHz processor but it’s important to remember that this handset hasn’t been designed to satisfy the needs of power users and handles everyday tasks quite happily. BlackBerry OS5 is loaded onto the Curve 3G which can be upgraded to OS6. To be honest, we’re glad RIM decided to roll its latest software out here, as we’re not fans of OS5 at all.
It’s far from the intuitive works of Apple and Google with few customisable options available and bland text-only sub menus, which are slightly uninspiring and take a bit of thought to find the function you’re looking for. It does the job though, once you get used to the nuances of the OS, but compared to other operating systems out there, RIM is far behind with this one. We did quite like how you can customise the two shortcut buttons found on the side of the handset though.
Internet: One major change here is that the BlackBerry Curve 3G has 3G connectivity, so getting online whilst on the move is a lot easier than before. Despite having both 3G and Wi-Fi options available, we didn’t enjoy using the web browser one bit. Yes, it has Flash support which we can’t really fault, but pages didn’t look their best thanks to the low-resolution display. Some headline titles were blurred together and the small display meant you had to zoom in to read any text.
It’s perfectly acceptable for quickly checking the news or weather, but if web browsing is on your high priority list, then we suggest you look elsewhere.
Camera: The Curve 3G really goes back to basics with its camera, sporting a 2 megapixel rear-facing offering with no flash as well as a fixed focus effort. We didn’t expect anything fancy though, especially considering that this handset isn’t aimed at the overlt tech savvy. Of course, you’re not going to get good quality shots with such a small megapixel package but that said, it’s really easy to take pictures on. The camera can also capture video in 360 x 240, but you need to insert a media card into the device before you start shooting anything.
Sharing your pictures and videos via email and MMS is straight forward, and you can post them to your social networks too.
- Music player: Supports MP3, eAAC, WMA, WAV, FLAC files
- Video player: Supports MP4, H.263, H.264, WMV files
- 256MB RAM
- 256MB ROM
- MicroSD card slot that supports cards up to 32GB
- Bluetooth 2.1
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- A-GPS with BlackBerry Maps
- 5 hours 30 minutes talk time (3G)
Even though we didn’t expect miracles from one of BlackBerry’s low price devices, we had a few niggles with it that we couldn’t shake off. The web browser experience was far from ideal and the fact that you need to have a microSD card to get any decent media usage out of it isn’t so great either. Thankfully, RIM took the initiative to provide an update for OS6 that ironed out the issues we had with OS5.
As expected from any new take on an old handset, the BlackBerry Curve3G brings some obvious improvements to its older brother, namely 3G connectivity. At the same time, these changes aren’t revolutionary and it’s still quite clunky to use in general. However, it does have all the requisite smartphone features (even if they’re not particularly fun to use), and is a perfectly adequate BlackBerry for those on a budget.