BlackBerry Curve 8300

The BlackBerry Curve takes both good and bad factors from the Pearl and 8800, making it an enticing phone -- but we're still waiting for the ultimate consumer BlackBerry


8.3
CNET Rating
7.5
User Rating


Design
The place -- a dark bar, somewhere in Waterloo, Ontario. A somewhat dejected BlackBerry Pearl downs its fifth drink (a BlackBerry Schnapps, naturally) and glances across the bar. A chubby BlackBerry 8800 starts giving it the eye. It too was intended to be a consumer model, but its rather thick and plain design meant it never pulled at the bar too early. A drunken haze, a hotel room and not quite nine months later, and we have the BlackBerry 8300, AKA the BlackBerry Curve.

OK, well, that's probably not how it happened exactly, but it's a damn sight more interesting than a bunch of R&D documents, a marketing schema, or for that matter the incredibly annoying background music that permeates RIM's BlackBerry Curve website. And it's also an apt way to outline the Curve's basic design. It shares the "Pearl" trackball of both units, but has a full QWERTY keyboard, a la the 8800. Its physical dimensions (107 by 60 by 15.5mm) mean that the keyboard is marginally smaller than that of the 8800. The rear of the Curve sports a 2-megapixel camera and the seemingly requisite tiny mirror for the purposes of self portraiture.

Features
First, the good news. The Curve is a quad-band GSM phone (800/850/1800/1900MHz), meaning you could take it pretty much anywhere in the world where they've heard of mobile phones, and several places where they haven't -- yep, even Bundarra -- and it should work as a basic phone and email client. The bad news, however, comes in what the Curve doesn't offer. There's no HSDPA. There's no GPS -- which the 8800 offered, albeit sans maps. There's no Wi-Fi. There is Bluetooth, including Bluetooth audio. The Curve offers microSD card compatibility, but annoyingly the slot is underneath the battery, which means you'll have to power it down each time you want to remove the card.

Naturally enough, being a BlackBerry, there's support for BlackBerry and POP3 email, along with some less business-centric applications such as media playback and the strangely hypnotic and yet still awful BrickBreaker game.

Performance
We don't often comment on voice quality in reviews, as it's such a variable thing depending on so many factors, but the one thing that we've struck with other BlackBerry units also irked us with the Curve; they don't come with particularly good internal speakers, and working out where on your ear to place the phone for best audio quality can be tricky; this is of course exacerbated if you're in a poor reception area.

The Curve's keyboard may be smaller than that of the 8800, but it had little to no effect on our usage of it; in many ways the slightly smoothed keys of the Curve were preferable to the 8800's chunky buttons. The display screen was clear and easy to view in all lighting situations; RIM claims that the Curve automatically adjusts screen brightness depending on ambient lighting, and although we were hard put to spot this happening in action, we never had a problem reading messages. As with most smartphones, web browsing is a necessarily cramped affair, and it's a pity the Curve doesn't offer HSDPA to speed up its data churning abilities.

The 2-megapixel camera on the Curve gave us some very good pictures, and it's a definite boon being able to swiftly shift them off the phone by the simple adjunct of emailing them out as soon as they're taken.

One area where we really felt the difference moving from the 8800 to the Curve was in the area of battery life. RIM estimates battery life for the Curve at 17 days standby time and 4 hours talk time. With much the same usage as the 8800, we found the Curve running dry after around three days of moderate usage, including regular email checking. Critically, that was about a day less than we'd typically managed with the 8800. As it will charge via USB, it was trivial enough for us to recharge it, but it still irked.

That illicit liaison between the Pearl and 8800 we spoke of in the opening paragraph has yielded an attractive consumer-level BlackBerry phone. It's hard not to feel, however, that it's the older sibling to a BlackBerry yet to come that could include those technologies we feel are lacking -- critically HSDPA and Wi-Fi connectivity.



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Kelsey
10
Rating
 

Kelsey posted a review   

The Good:EVERYTHING

The Bad:NOTHING except internet

Love this phone!

etho_99
9
Rating
 

etho_99 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:*Good Camera
*Battery life lasts me all day
*Fast texting
*Sleek Design
*Has camera flash
*can watch movies and listen to music
*Good storage

The Bad:*internet
And that is about it.

Ive had this phone for just over a week now and it is a really good phone. Although the internet isnt that good and it is a bit complicated to use but overall its a great phone, from fast texting to taking great photos this phone has what I need.

may
4
Rating
 

may posted a review   

The Good:easy to use
nice camera

The Bad:buttons won't work sometimes
trackball won't work
battery dies while turned off
battery does not last very long

my new blackberry curve is messing up and i just got it three days ago

Edwina
3
Rating
 

Edwina posted a review   

The Good:keyboard and camera

The Bad:contacts not displaying

I have had two software error issues with the handset and as a result it has not been able to turn on.

I also have an ongoing problem with my contacts. When a contact calls me only their number is displayed, no name appears

Jan
8
Rating
 

Jan posted a review   

great improvement on the Pearl - probably the ultimate

DarrylG
6
Rating
 

DarrylG posted a review   

The Good:- Phone setup was pretty straightforward
- Remote email access is handy
- Handset is slim and light
- The jury is out on trackball & QWERTY keyboard vs touchscreen

The Bad:- Synchronising with MS Outlook works, but is comparatively awkward
- User interface for access to key applications and so on is cumbersome
- This device does not have the same reception range as my O2, despite having the same carrier - Optus; I dropped out in places that had never been a problem before
- Maybe I've set things up incorrectly (although I don't think so), but I am getting copies of emails to both my email area and message area. This is unnecessary and annoying
- There is a very basic alarm system (again, compared with the O2) which only seems to allow you to set one alarm which goes off every day - as opposed to selecting the days of interest. I didn't make this part of my criteria as I assumed that it was fairly fundamental. I was wrong.

For context, I am a long time MS Windows / Applications user and my last phone / PDA was an O2 XDA Mini II. I was looking to move to a less bulky handset with better software reliability after having reached the limit of the O2's memory capability. Using the device mainly for business purposes, I was particularly keen on synchronising with MS Outlook and was hoping to maintain or improve phone reception quality. In summary, because remote emails are not overly important to me, I feel that I could have chosen a better device.

lucmobile
8
Rating
 

lucmobile posted a review   

The Good:Just the right size;
gotta love the trackball;
excellent typing features;
nice sound quality of phone and media player;
really smart/straightforward approach to everything.

The Bad:Only contemplates Windows - Mac and Linux users are totally left out in the rain;
memory card sits under battery, and the phone takes forever to boot up;
won't save Office document attachments;
the camera is not bad, but not good either;
low volume and not enough controls in media player.

It certainly isn't perfect, but I am totally in love with this phone.

shellbell
8
Rating
 

shellbell posted a review   

The Good:Scroll wheel
Standard headphone jack
Good sound
Takes good pictures
Easy to transfer to and from with usb cable

The Bad:Due to issues with my provider, haven't been able to test email functionality
Would like to be able to customize home screen a little more
ptionsBluetooth-not as many sending oi available as other devices

Firstly, it's cute! But function wise it is still pretty good. The qwerty keypad looks difficult and small but is very easy to use, surprisingly. Great screen and sound seemed pretty decent to me.
(Am a little bit in love with the scroll wheel!!!)
All in all, a good device that could do with some extra features, but has come quite a way!

Daniel Gara
10
Rating
 

Daniel Gara posted a review   

The Good:everything!

The Bad:can't think of any

Absolutely awesome, Daniel Gara

Robert Hunter
9
Rating
 

Robert Hunter posted a review   

The Good:Got it all..

The Bad:uummmm....

Wicked, this PDA is so good, I had a 8700g and this is the perfect upgrade, has some really good features. finding a cool case was hard, but thanks Terry "blackberrydownunder.com.au" is great. Got a car kit there too.




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