For all you Blackberry enthusiasts, the Blackberry 8300, also known as the Blackberry Curve, is ready to capture your heart. People will love it for its slimmer profile, lightweight and a slightly more refreshing design comprising of smooth edges and soft curves. For owners of the Blackberry 8800 that was released a few months back, the temptation to switch over to the Blackberry Curve would be hard to resist, as you'll soon discover.
For those who have been using Blackberry devices, the jog-dial navigation should be something that's very familiar to you. That, however, had since been replaced by a new trackball navigation system that started life in the Blackberry Pearl, eventually making its way into the Blackberry Curve. Where user ergonomics are concerned, the trackball navigation system actually provides a smoother and faster navigation experience than the old jog-dial system - though selection of applications is harder due to the sensitivity of the trackball.
Zooming in to the button configuration we have the 'Call' and 'End' buttons conveniently located right beside the trackball. Accompanying these are the 'Application' and 'Esc' key. Packing the buttons in such close proximity serves to make navigation easy. Measuring in at 107 x 60 x 15.5mm (L x W x D), the Curve fits snugly into hands and is sufficiently wide to accommodate a 35-key QWERTY keyboard. The tactile feedback from the keys is a big plus in our opinion; it just encourages typing of messages and emails somehow.
Learning to fully utilize the Blackberry Curve was easy, thanks to RIM’s propriety operating system (OS). Only a subtle aesthetic enhancement separates the interface of the Blackberry Curve from the interface found in older Blackberry handhelds. Even the suite of applications it packs is more or less the same as the Blackberry 8800, with the usual e-mail support for corporate accounts running on the Blackberry Enterprise Solution (BES) a standard feature as expected. Granted it also delivers true synchronization with its support of Microsoft Exchange and IBM Lotus, the Blackberry Curve still commands a slight edge when it comes to e-mail support. Of course, POP3 and IMAP4 are also supported.
Connectivity on the Blackberry Curve is disappointing, as neither Wi-Fi nor 3G is supported. EDGE is the only wireless data connectivity it has and while download speeds might not be blisteringly fast, it should still be sufficient for you to perform email functions. Also lacking is GPS capability, which is odd because Blackberry map applications are provided. GPS navigation however, can still be had by pairing the Blackberry Curve with a Bluetooth GPS antenna, but even without one, users will at least be able to use the map applications as a form of digital street directory, if they don't mind the data costs incurred from downloading maps over the air when the map applications are in session.
A 2-megapixel camera capable of up to 5x digital zoom and an onboard LED flash allow the Blackberry Curve to attract lifestyle consumers as well, and consequently what Blackberry hopes will be a bigger market share for them. Picture quality, though a tad noisy, was good enough in our books. For entertainment purposes, the Blackberry Curve supports popular formats such as MP3, MIDI, WMA and many others for music playback while video support covers formats such as MPEG4, H.264 and WMV. Storage on the Blackberry Curve comes in the form of a microSD slot that supports up to 2GB, but because it's also located underneath the battery like the Blackberry 8800, hot swapping is impossible.
The one highlight of the Blackberry Curve is its 3.5mm audio jack that gives it instant compatibility with off-the-shelf stereo earphones/headphones. If you have extra cash to spare, you could even consider buying a Bluetooth wireless stereo headset because the Blackberry Curve does support A2DP, a Bluetooth specification not supported by the Blackberry 8800. Adding more brownie points to the Blackberry Curve is its heavy duty battery. We managed to get a good run of about three days before a charge was required.
Truth be told, we were kind of captivated by the Blackberry Curve’s sleek and slimmer design. What we couldn't get over is the unfortunate fact that it lacks Wi-Fi and 3G support. Other than that, the Blackberry Curve is actually a decent device to have on hand for both business and general consumers. Pricing-wise, it is at S$768 with SingTel while Starhub is offering it at S$968, both of which are retail prices without contract.