If you’re on the market for a capable smartphone which is very stable, good looking, and easy to use then the BlackBerry Curve 8300 is definitely worth having a look at.
The BlackBerry Curve 8300 is a smartphone that has a lot of fashion sense. What makes this phone such a pleasure to use is the intuitive menu system, the ability to personalise the handset to your needs, and overall quality of the device. Not to mention that this phone truly has a short learning Curve, excuse the pun.
In terms of navigating through the phone’s operating system, the tiny trackball is a breeze to use. It sits in the centre of the phone and glows white, has a pleasant texture to touch, and can be set to a high sensitivity which speeds up the process of browsing through menus.
The QWERTY-keyboard may take some getting used to for anyone who is familiar with the standard mobile layout. However the advantages of this newer form of mobile layout are tremendous. With Curve you will probably find yourself sending emails and writing notes almost as fast as you can on a standard keyboard. This is because the buttons feel really solid and there’s a button for each letter of the alphabet, many other QWERTY phones designate two letters and this means u need to the push the button on either a left side or a right side. In the past integrating a full keyboard on a smartphone that doesn’t look atrocious has been a difficult task. But this is quickly becoming a problem of the past. The Curve is the lightest (111grams) and arguably the sexiest of Research In Motion’s (RIM’s) creations to date.
The Curve sports an excellent display which runs at 320 x 240 with over 65,000 colours. Automatically the screen will be set to adjust itself according to the environment you’re in. If you’re outside and the sun is out then the Curve will brighten itself up to combat the overall brightness of the environment, on the other hand if you’re out on a Thursday night the Curve will say “hang on, let’s turn that brightness down a little”. Some people may like this feature, but if you don’t you can head down to Options and edit the Screen/Keyboard properties. In fact the whole Options menu is very familiar to that of any phone and the Setup Wizard will teach you some tricks on using the phone. In short, you will be underway in a matter of minutes and playing around with the Curve’s options is all part of the fun.
You have 64megs of built in memory and an internal slot for putting in a MicroSD card. This form of memory is very affordable; I picked up a 2 gig card for about thirty five Australian dollars. Installing the MicroSD is similar to that of putting in a Sim Card and you can then update your files with the provided USB or by sending files through Bluetooth.
In terms of audio quality you will be pleased to know that this phone does not disappoint and it will easily replace your personal music player. Unlike most phones on the market the Curve takes a 3.5mm input so you can plug in any set of headphones or earphones. The only problem is if you want to use the microphone for a hands free conversation you will need to stick with the included headset or purchase a Bluetooth stereo headset.
With all that said the included headset is actually very impressive and is on par with devices like the current Ipod models. One minor annoyance is that the Music Player doesn’t offer any Equalising but you can activate the Volume Boost if you want to run some higher powered headphones. The included software Roxio Media Manager for the BlackBerry isn’t the hottest on the market and is pretty limited. For example it doesn’t automatically update the images of your music albums. Your best option may be to simply drag and drop files onto the phone. The Curve also supports MPEG 4 and WMV so you can import movie files and watch them on the bus home.
Email is what RIM excels in. No longer do you have to type in techno jargon about your POP3 account. Instead you will have a BlackBerry account; this will hold details of all your email accounts within it. All you have to do is enter your username and password for your email account and the phone will automatically be on the lookout for emails. I tried my personal account with both Gmail and my Internet provider and it just worked. When you receive an email you will have the choice to delete it from your handset only or from both your email account and your handset at once. This means that you can easily organise your emails on your phone and your online account all at once. If you thought setting up email accounts on your smart phone was a complicated task then the Curve will change your mind.
Surfing the web is simple with the included browsing application, however you’re confined to relatively simple tasks because of the speed of the connection and the fact that many sites are simply not designed to be viewed well on a phone. I didn’t have a problem looking up information on search engines and logging into Ebay – just to give you an idea of some of things you can do.
The Curve doesn’t include an internal GPS receiver like phones such as the Nokia 6110 Navigator however if you purchase an external Bluetooth receiver you can then integrate it with Google Maps. The reason why we suggest Google Maps is simply because BlackBerry Maps does not support Australia. However this alternative is a working solution and you can set routes and view satellite pictures. Just don’t expect all the extra features you’d find with a dedicated satellite navigation system.
You can also setup the Curve to run with Gtalk which is Google’s take on a messenger application. For some reason this took me a long time to get working but I have heard that this is to do with a delay with the servers. So don’t worry it will eventually work, and once it does it’s excellent. There will also be a version of MSN coming out soon, however it is currently in Beta testing.
The 2.0 Megapixel camera isn’t really anything to write home about but it includes a flash and this average quality is expected due to the fact that this phone is primarily designed for a business user.
Finally, the Curve has excellent voice clarity and also a reasonable battery life when it comes to really operating the phone. If you use it non-stop for music and Internet then you might find your battery life lasting 2-3 days, however the standby time is 17 days.
So you’ve probably noticed that this review has been fairly positive so far. To be fair the Curve isn’t all giant ticks and smiley faces, the phone lacks 3G support and could do with some WiFi connectivity. If you’re on the market for a capable smartphone which is very stable, good looking, and easy to use then the BlackBerry Curve 8300 is definitely worth having a look at.
- Solid build quality
- Great email functionality
- Easy to set up
- Could work as a music player
Product: BlackBerry Curve 8300
Reviewed by Michael Stark
Vendor: Research In Motion
Website: BlackBerry Curve 8300