Blackberry Curve 3G review

Full review: Rim's affordable QWERTY gets 3G boost

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Blackberry Curve 3G left

Blackberry Curve 3G left
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Blackberry Curve 3G front

Blackberry Curve 3G front
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Blackberry Curve 3G right

Blackberry Curve 3G right

Improved connectivity and great email, but overpriced

Forget the natty BlackBerry Torch and the much-mooted Clamshell 9760. If you're a workaholic and looking to snaffle one of RIM's emailers, then the Curve 3G 9300 fancies itself as the ultimate proposition.

An entry-level smartphone, the new Curve adds HSDPA to its arsenal, while sticking with the tried and tested skills of its predecessors. But with Nokia's E-series and a raft of Android QWERTY sliders in the wild, can the Curve still cut it?

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There's no getting around the fact that the Curve 3G is nothing but a minor bump. Aside from the much-needed jump to faster mobile network speeds, pretty much everything else remains the same as the year-old Blackberry Curve 8520. The screen is still 320 x 240 pixels, the back still ruggedised and the nifty trackpad still sits pretty in the centre. The chrome finish of the original Curve returns though, adding a classier feel to what was always meant to be a basic version of RIM's email workhorse.

BlackBerry Curve 3G: Connectivity updates

3G is the number one new inclusion and it has to be said it makes using the Curve an altogether more pleasurable experience. Zipping around web pages is much quicker, although the browser in the BlackBerry 5 OS is still pitiful. As we found on the original Curve 8520 back in 2009, zooming is a nightmare and pages are poorly rendered thanks to the low-res screen. Get over those blocky pixels though and the load speeds certainly impress.

The speedier HSDPA also means loading up apps from BlackBerry App World is far swifter and makes this phone a bit of a winner. Other phones in its price bracket don't have the same nous when it comes to apps, although we have to say the App World itself is very unintuitive. BlackBerry OS 6 should fix this and the Curve 3G is being primed for an update according to RIM. Why it couldn't load it up from the get go though, remains a mystery.

BlackBerry Curve 3G: Email and messaging

Email, though, is the main focus here. But little has changed in the way the Curve handles messages. You still get integrated folders and quick access to your mail, but rivals have stolen a march on RIM. Nokia's E-series handles mail every bit as well, and even Espoo's C-series cells match it. The QWERTY is also an acquired taste and in an age where virtual keyboards and more capacious sliders are ever more prevalent, the Curve 3G feels uncomfortable. After five minutes on this panel, your thumbs feels more cramped than a rush hour tube train.

Nothing has changed from the Curve 8520's multimedia offering either. The camera is still an utterly naff two megapixel version which just doesn't stack up against myriad rivals. Even the most basic phones can offer better snaps than this. The music player remains functional though and the App World's excellent 7Digital app makes it a fine rival to the iPhone's iPod app. Video playback is a shocker though and is something we wouldn't recommend trying too often. However, the Curve 3G's battery life is stellar, lasting two and a half days before we needed to give it some juice.

The £280 SIM-free price tag is heftier than the far classier Nokia E72 and even RIM's own Bold is only £40 or so more. Blackberry 6 may well make the Curve 3G classier, but in its current incarnaton this upgrade is one for RIM fans only.

Availble now, find out more from RIM

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Specifications
OS: BlackBerry 5
Processor: 624 Mhz
Storage: 256MB, Micro SD
Screen: 320 x 240, 2.4-inches
Battery: 4.5 hours talk (3G) 29 hours music playback
Connectivity Wi-Fi (b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1, HSDPA, GPS
Camera: 2 megapixel, fixed focus no flash
3G Talk time 4.5 hours
Dimensions: 109 x 60 x 14 mm
Weight: 104g

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