BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 Review
The new BlackBerry Curve 3G may not be the most exciting BlackBerry that has been in the media lately but it does have some nice new features compared to its predecessor the BlackBerry Curve 8520.
The obvious and main one is that it now supports 3G, as the name suggests, which will be great for downloading apps, uploading photos and surfing the web.
Is the 9300 a worthy follow on and should you buy one if you are looking for a new smartphone? Only one way to find out and that is to read the review.
What's in the box:
- USB Cable
As I said in the unboxing video this was not a retail box so expect a little more if purchasing.
The ten second review:
Device: BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300
Summary: A mid range BlackBerry with superb messaging and social networking powers!
Best of: Keyboard, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Social Network integration, push email.
Worst of: Web browser, games, camera
Buy it now from: TBC
BlackBerry Curve 3G Specification:
- 320x240 pixel color display
- Transmissive TFT LCD
- Font size (user selectable)
- Displays over 65,000 colors
- 3G network support
- Optical trackpad
- Full QWERTY keyboard
- Simultaneous voice and data
- Email and text messaging
- BlackBerry® Messenger
- Instant Messaging
- Camera and video recording
- Media player
- Tethered modem
- 2.0 MP camera
- Fixed focus
- Video recording
On the left side of the 9300 is the 3.5mm headset jack, the MicroUSB slot and the left convenience key.
BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 left side
On the right the up/down volume controls and the right convenience key can be found.
BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 right side
On the top in typical Curve fashion we get media controls.
BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 top
On the bottom all we see is the microphone. Apart from that it is nice and smooth.
BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 bottom
Over on the back all we get is the camera lens and a nice BlackBerry logo.
BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 back
And of course the front looks like a BlackBerry should look.
BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 front
- Great Keyboard
- Push email
- Facebook app
- BlackBerry Messenger
- Slow web browser
- Rubbish games
- Poor camera
Physically the BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 is only slightly different from the 8520. Quite noticeably it has a silver bezel around it much like on the BlackBerry Bold 9700. This makes the phone look much better in my opinion. We also have a change on the back of the device. On the 8520 the battery cover was plain shiny plastic. Now on the 9300 it has been given a nice mottled effect. Again this ads to the appearance of the phone but the downside is that the mottled effect makes the BlackBerry a little more slippery. Hold on tight!
With its nice rounded edges the 9300 feels great in the hand. It is a reasonably large phone but it needs to be to compensate for the full QWERTY keyboard. The beauty of it is that it can be used both one and two handed, whichever you are happier with. Although if you are a new BlackBerry user I can guarantee it wont take long until you are typing away with both thumbs at a great rate of knots.
In terms of build quality the back of the device does feel a little cheap and flimsy (I'm sure it is not though). The front however feels rock solid. It needs to be to cope with the thousands of emails and BBM's it has to handle.
As I mentioned above the keyboard is really the main feature on the BlackBerry. The keyboard on the 9300 is identical to that on the 8520. The keys are nicely spaced apart and just the right size. They would be. RIM have been making BlackBerry devices for a long time and with the market share in smart phones of course they have got it right. The keyboard is slightly different to that on the Bold 9700 and the forthcoming Torch 9800. These two devices have a slightly different design with not as much space between the keys and each key is a wee bit softer. Anyway, they are all great if you ask me.
Like all the BlackBerry smartphones the 9300 does not have a load of on board memory built in but it can support MicroSD cards. Not sure what size will be supplied by the networks yet though.
Taking a quick look at the home screen you will see that at the top, like on most phones, you are shown the battery quantity, carrier details, the time, signal strength, and a Wi-Fi signal. Towards the left hand side you will also see any notifications you may have such as emails and Facebook notifications. At the bottom of the screen you are presented with six icons. Don't worry if these are not the ones you want on the home screen. They can be moved and you can choose whichever ones you want.
BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 Home Screen
Under the screen you will find the call send/end keys as well as the BlackBerry menu button and a back button. These all are proper buttons, although are covered in a single piece of plastic and they give a proper click. Centered in the middle of them is the optical trackpad. Gone are the days when a BlackBerry had a roller ball. The track pad has replaced the balls and from expectance I can say it is so much better. The speed in which the track pad operates the on screen icons can be altered. Its speed can be varied from 0-100% within the options section of the device.
As with all BlackBerry smart phones you get convenience keys and the Curve 3G 9300 has one on either side. As standard they will come preset to activate voice dialing on the left and the camera on the right. These can be changed though to allow for any shortcut you like. Bonus.
The main menu on the 9300 is simple and this allows for quick access to any application.
BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 menu
So, onto the main applications on the device.
Messaging has to come top of the list on a BlackBerry. Lets start with email. On any BlackBerry you can have up to ten email accounts. All email will be pushed to the device, which will help conserve battery, instead of it syncing with the server every 10-15 minutes. The email interface is extremely easy to use and what I love about BlackBerry is that everything is quick. You can create an email in seconds. Or open your inbox and delete 20 emails in seconds. You just cant beat it in my opinion.
BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 messaging inbox
SMS is straight forward and can be integrated with email messages too. Let me explain. You have two options when it comes to viewing messages. Option one is to use different folders (icons) for each messaging client. For example if I had two email accounts set up I would need three folders on my home screen. Two for the separate email accounts and one for SMS.
The alternative is what I use and this is an integrated messages folder. Here all your email and SMS and even BBM's if you want can come into the same folder. If you also use some other instant messaging clients those messages will also show up. This frees up space on your home screen for your other most popular applications. I find it a cleaner way of doing things but like most things in life this comes down to personal preference.
The emails you receive will still appear on your computer as well as on the BlackBerry but when it comes to deleting on the BB you do have the option to delete just from the handheld or from the server too which is handy.
On too BlackBerry Messenger aka BBM.
BlackBerry Messenger advert
If you are not aware of what BBM is I will summarise. BlackBerry Messenger is an instant messaging client that is exclusive to BlackBerry smart phones. BBM will allow you to instantly communicate with your friends who also own a BlackBerry. You are not just restricted to text. You can also send pictures and voice notes and the best bit is it doesn't cost anything. The costs are included in your monthly payment for BlackBerry Services so you can send as many BBM's as you wish. Once you use the app you will become addicted, I can guarantee. That is unless you have no friends!
BBM on the BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300
As you will see above you have your details at the very top of the screen. Jumping into your own profile will allow you to set a status message and this will be seen by your BBM contacts.
On the screen shot you will see that there is a red icon next to the recent Updates section. This will either be a status update notification of it will be letting you know you have a new contact.
BlackBerry messenger is the one application that I really would not want to live without.
Like on all BlackBerry devices (apart from the Torch) the web browser is not great. It works but it is slow and definitely not one of its strongest features.
BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 Web Browser
As you can see, initially when launching a web page it looks just like it would do on a computer but you will need to zoom in to read the text. This is done one of two ways. You can either use the onscreen icon which will have a plus sign on it, like in the above pictures or you can use the menu where zoom in and out options will be.
Accessing and saving bookmarks is simple like most things on the BlackBerry. It is just a case of pressing the menu key and you are given an array of options.
Social networking is rather popular these days, so I hear, and the BlackBerry is great at integrating with the applications. Facebook is probably the most common one these days and the BlackBerry Facebook app is awesome.
Facebook on the BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300
The home page will show you your friends updates and here you also get a status update box so you can update your own status in seconds. At the top of the app are various tabs for viewing other features such as notifications and friends. Uploading photos to Facebook from the BlackBerry is a great feature and really quite painless.
The best thing about the app is its integration with BlackBerry. If you get a Facebook message etc the BlackBerry will tell you. This is much better than on some platforms where you get an email to tell you you have a Facebook notification. The BlackBerry eliminates this and will guide you straight into the app. Cool.
Twitter is another popular application. RIM have their own Twitter app called Twitter for BlackBerry but it is not the best. At present I feel that UberTwitter is the number one BlackBerry Twitter client and it is free! It can be found in app world.
UberTwitter on the BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300
The three tabs at the top are your timeline, mentions and direct messages so getting to each section is a breeze. You can integrate them all into your timeline and in addition, within the settings there are a loads of tweaks and options you can choose. A great app for keeping up to date with your Twitter buddies.
The calendar feature on the 9300 is excellent. It is the same as on all the other BlackBerry devices and I use this daily to keep track of my meetings and reminders.
BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 Calendar
Creating a calendar entry is simple pimple. Just click on the time you want it and type the subject. You can then tweak the time and location if you need to. The entry can also be shared with another BlackBerry friend so the event will be sent to their BlackBerry too! Is that cool or what?
BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 Calendar view options
As well as the day view you can also choose week, month and agenda view. Whichever suits you best. And with the option to sync the calendar with Outlook or iCalendar (if using a Mac) you are given piece of mind that you can work on either the phone or PC and the two will integrate beautifully.
I mentioned app world a little earlier in the review. If you have not used a BlackBerry before then this is where you can download applications from. App World is installed onto the BlackBerry and so you have access to downloads wherever you go.
BlackBerry App World
The amount of applications here is a long way off from being on par with the Apple App Store or the Android Market but you will find loads of useful stuff here. There are both free and paid applications and the top 25 of each are shown with a tab at the bottom of the screen for quick access.
With GPS built in you can use maps to assist you if you are unfortunate to get lost. BlackBerry Maps will be on the device as well as Google Maps (carrier determined). BlackBerry maps is much the same as Google Maps but I much prefer the latter. The BlackBerry version just looks a bit rubbish.
Google Maps on the BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300
Like on a all other platforms you have the choice of viewing a normal map or satellite one. A press of the '0' key will pin point your location and you can use the 1 and 3 keys to zoom in and out. Moving around the map is done using the track pad.
The media features on the BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 are ok but not the best.
BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 media menu
I have no issues with the music player at all. The music quality is great and without headphones the speaker is excellent on the 9300. The user interface is simple and attractive and with the bonus of media controls on the top of the phone you can switch tracks without taking the device out of a pocket or holster.
Viewing pictures is quite nice although the BlackBerry does not have the biggest screen. Images are shown initially in a gallery and then you just click on the one you wish to view. From here you can scroll back and fourth through the images full screen. The best bit here is that it is dead easy to select an image and then send it to a friend, using email, BBM, MMS etc. It can be done in just a couple of seconds.
Watching video is not the best. The screen size does not help and you more than likely would not want to watch a whole movie on it but you could if you wanted. I did once! If importing a movie to the 9300 the video quality will be ok but if viewing YouTube online the quality is pretty poor I am afraid to say.
You get some useful options with the clock on the BlackBerry. Not a feature I normally mention in a review but on the BlackBerry I think it is quite impressive. As well as being able to change the style of clock you also get a timer, stopwatch and alarm. You also have the option to select bedtime mode. This means that when you plug the charger into the device the clock will automatically show full screen and it will be dimmed so you don't get woken up by the bright light. Once in bedtime mode your BlackBerry LED indicator will not flash at you, again so it does not wake you up. How thoughtful you are RIM.
BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 Clock
Getting things set up on the device such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and email is far from complicated. You have a setup folder in the main menu and here you will be guided through each process.
The camera on the 9300 is far from excellent. With no flash it performs really poor in low light conditions as you can see below.
In bright conditions it is ok but not much better than you would expect from a 2mp camera. The 9300 will not be a replacement for a digital camera that's for sure.
BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 Camera Samples
If you want a phone for playing games then a BlackBerry is not for you. Although there are five pre loaded on the 9300 they are not very good. You can download more from App World but you will not get anywhere near the same experience as on the iPhone or Android devices. The BlackBerry is just not built for the same gaming experience.
BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 Games
The BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 is a great device. If you are deciding whether to get a BlackBerry then I think the choice needs to be made depending on your needs.
If the most important thing for you is communication then get a BlackBerry. It handles email, instant messaging (BBM) and the social networking apps perfectly and in my opinion no other platform does it so well, partly due to having the wonderful hardware keyboard.
If you are into watching a lot of media, web browsing and playing games then you will be happier with another platform. Or get a BlackBerry and an iPod Touch!
The 9300 sits in the middle of the BlackBerry range. At the top we have the Bold 9700 and the forthcoming Torch 9800. At the bottom we have the Curve 8520 and sat in the middle we have the 9300 and the Pearl 3G 9105.
Overall the 9300 has some nice improvements over the 8520. Not massive ones but still better. Now we just need to see how much it will be sold for by the networks. I don't think we will see this at the same £150 price we currently get the 8520 for on PAYG. In fact I know we wont.
Posted by: James