The BlackBerry Curve 9320 is RIM's £149 bid to win first time smartphone users with smartphone basics, decent battery life and integrated BBM for social feeds
The BlackBerry Curve 9320 wants to be as successful with the youth market as previous models proved to be a few years ago off the back of celebrity endorsements, clever marketing and Gossip Girl product placement.
Today, the BlackBerry Curve 9320 faces competition from cheap Android phones like the Huawei Ascend G300, LG Optimus L3 and even the BlackBerry-style Nokia Asha 201.
BlackBerry Curve 9320: Build
The trademark BlackBerry design won't surprise anyone. There's a neat, classic and responsive keyboard at the heart of the smartphone, given as much presence as the 2.44 inch screen.
Minor changes include the sensible migration of the headphone socket to the top of the body rather than the side and a BBM button on the left hand side of the body for fast access to the service which remains the key USP of all RIM products.
Compared to other BlackBerry smartphones, the BlackBerry 9320 feels chunky yet lightweight. Measurements clock in at 109 x 60 x 13.9mm and it tips the scales at just 103g. Overall, the BlackBerry Curve 9320 mimics the business centric, plastic feel of older models and doesn't look stylish or high-tech but is designed purely for function.
BlackBerry Curve 9320: Features
Despite the budget price tag, this is the first BlackBerry to arrive with BlackBerry 7.1 which allows BBM to integrate with other apps like Facebook. Preceding the revolution that RIM is promising with BlackBerry 10, it's a minor overhaul but important and a welcome addition that gives the BlackBerry 9320 kudos for upgrading BBM fans.
The 3.2 megapixel camera is average but does feature a flash which isn't guaranteed at the price point. Inside, a 1450mAh battery is a welcome bonus and the MicroSD slot means adding a cheap MicroSD card (up to 32GB) is a no-brainer upgrade for music fans.
The FM (RDS) Radio works well and while basic, it's a great bonus over many rivals which rely on patchy 3G for radio use. The homescreen is pre-loaded with useful apps too: Facebook, Twitter, Virgin Trains as well as a basic but functional map app and less important OK and ESPN apps. Connectivity options are good, with HSDPA 3G skills alongside A2DP Bluetooth.
BlackBerry Curve 9320: Screen
At 2.44 inches and 320 x 240 pixels, the BlackBerry Curve isn't going to win any awards for screen quality as rivals offer either a much bigger screen or a higher resolution screen.
That said, the screen is clear and bright but lacks detail on many websites. Custom apps fare much better and mean that they'll naturally be used more frequently than the browser because while menus and apps are clear, the screen simply struggles to present complex sites.
BlackBerry Curve 9320: Performance
The 3 megapixel camera is functional rather than fun and the web browser is just about usable but, in 2012, looks terribly dated against touchscreen smartphones with big displays and fast Android browsers.
It's a major sticking point and navigating many websites now feels like using your feet to pilot a car. The overall experience for apps, texting and emails is very fast with little lag, however and BBM naturally works better than before.
If you rule out browser use, the BlackBerry Curve 9320 is a decent keyboard driven smartphone but the pure power of rivals like the Huawei Ascend G300 and LG Optimus L3 blow it out of the water.
Games and intensive media apps on rival Android smartphones will embarrass the BlackBerry Curve 9320 at every turn and in a serious, productivity sense, the Nokia Lumia 710 offers competitive Windows Phone functions and a higher spec. Call quality has always been solid on BlackBerry smartphones and it's great here, offering very clear audio for the caller and receiver.
BlackBerry Curve 9320: Battery
The 1450 mAh battery gives a couple of days of intensive use and, for many, this will be a major plus over rivals and high-end options.
BlackBerry Curve 9320: Verdict
RIM no longer produces smartphones that compete with the desirability of Apple products and the younger market which once craved BBM is now rapidly migrating to cheap yet stylish Android smartphones and iPhones which now boast iMessage, a more than capable BBM rival.
The BlackBerry Curve 9320 is average in almost every way but will still appeal to BlackBerry fans and anyone after a best in class keyboard and upgraded BBM. As a smartphone, it's actually one of the simplest ones out there.
BlackBerry Curve 9320 availability: Available now
BlackBerry Curve 9320 price: £149
Review by Richard Melville