BlackBerry Curve 9320/9220/9310 Running 7.1 Review

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When RIM sent the BlackBerryCool HQ a budget-minded BlackBerry 7 device the BlackBerry Curve 9320, there weren’t a lot of takers. One in particular claiming that going from a Bold 9900 keyboard to a lesser model was simply not in the cards for his pampered thumbs.

I’ve always regarded the BlackBerry Curve line of phones to be the ones that simply work. They’re less buggy than initial releases of other lines of BlackBerry devices and developers seem to have no problem finding the time to make a great build of their app for the Curve series. I was on a BlackBerry 9810 so I do consider this a bit of a downgrade in terms of screen and camera.

When poking around the internet looking for info, I came across PhoneArena’s specs information page for the latest Curve. The 9320 apparently has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, as summarized by the totally empty “Pros” section.

I’ve been trying figure out what the Curve’s secret sauce is, what feature or combination of factors make it something people want in their purse or pocket. Tens of millions of people can’t be wrong, I’m sure a number of Curve owners hate their phone but there’s something special about the Curve that makes it a hit: Value.

The Curve series has a remarkable ability of working well despite never trying to be cutting edge: like the Honda Civic of smartphones.

Read on for my thoughts on the new Curves’ specs.

Camera

When looking at the guts of the device, the choice of parts for the curve all scream efficiency and value. Some might scoff at the 9320′s mid-2000 era 3.2 megapixel camera. When taking the camera for a spin however, the camera seemed responsive and fairly idiot proof. A 3.2 MP image weighs in at about 1.1MB making them fairly easy to email.

Video

Low-res 640×480 is the best this phone does for video. This translates into a 4:3 aspect video at the 480p level of YouTube quality. A small advantage is that it records 4:3 so you have no chance of Vertical Video Syndrome. If you need 720p or 1080p video recording than you’ll want to dodge the Curve.

Music

This works the same as other BlackBerry 7 devices. It’s also got an FM radio that adds a local flavor to the more international Podcast and Slacker Radio apps.

Build and Durability

The construction of the phone is basically invincible. The way that the rigid plastics are layered with a softer rubbery midsection makes the design very tough. You could drop this from shoulder height once a day for a year and you phone would probably sustain a few scuffs. People seem to find the proportions of the phone “cute” and are surprised by how light it is to hold. Lots of folks fell the phone feels cheap, which it is.

Battery

The Thin light style JS1 battery provides 1450mAh power. If you’re running with all options at max expect the phone to last the day. If you dim the screen and turn off the Wifi and Bluetooth radios, expect 2 days performance. I know that using standby and a holdster can increase the battery life beyond a couple of days but I have no problem keeping it in my pocket and charging my phone while I sleep.

Screen

Bright, Low-res, and cheap. If you’re the type to want to browse PDFs or work on documents you may want to go for a BlackBerry 9900 instead.

Keyboard

The Chicklet style keypad is compact and the clicky feedback and stiff keys make for error-free typing. I barely press the backspace button anymore because the way the keyboard works is that every button press is entirely deliberate.

One-handed operation is where the keyboard really shines, you can press any key on the device with either your left or your right hand. I think has more to do with the weight balance of the phone. My BlackBerry 9810 was terrible for this and get wobbly and top-heavy when attempting one-handed operation.

Software

BlackBerry 7.1 is a great OS for this little device. With it you can make a mobile hotspot making your laptop a fully connected wherever you get data on your phone.

BlackBerry Maps-I know RIM has been pushing for their 1st party mapping app to take hold, but 5 seconds after downloading Google Maps for BlackBerry It had me on GPS. I’m indoors not facing any window, when I tried to load BlackBerry Maps it launched on a featureless map at maximum zoom with my location estimation changing from this moment to the next. I give the first party mapping a try every time I get a new device and it always pales in comparison to Google’s offering.

BlackBerry 7 is great if you’re coming from BlackBerry 6 or older devices. It’s very fast to bounce between email and your apps. The transitions between pages are lightning-quick

Migrating

When skipping the BlackBerry’s intro tour and how-to guides, getting my new BlackBerry in minimum working order (1 backup of my old device + 1 SIM and Micro SD card swap + 1 New BlackBerry initial boot time took under 5 Minutes. All my mailboxes, call logs, calendars and SMSes were all intact and I was ready for action.

Something that would help the migration process in the future would be BlackBerry App World separating your BB10 and Playbook apps from your Legacy (OS 4, 5, 6 and 7) Apps.

Summary

Easy to use, durable, cheap and does everything other smartphones do. Short on cutting edge features but big on value.

Get this phone if:

  • You are a teenager who sends over 5000 messages a month
  • You are on a budget but wish to have smartphone
  • You need a pay as you go phone for a few months
  • You’re waiting for a BB10 phone and want something that works great in the meantime

Don’t get this phone if:

  • You like showing off your expensive gadgets
  • You need a lot of mobile screen real estate
  • You need a high-res camera and HD video shooting
  • Superphone and Ultraphone are in your vocabulary

For more info on this BlackBerry check out RIM’s 9320 landing page.

  • http://www.crazytaxigames24.com/ crazy taxi cab

    I was on a BlackBerry 9810 so I do consider this a bit of a downgrade in terms of screen and camera.

  • http://www.mercury-group.com/ Evelia Condon

    I came across PhoneArena’s specs information page for the latest Curve. The 9320 apparently has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, as summarized by the totally empty “Pros” section.