So there wasn’t much hype at all for the BlackBerry Curve 3G since it was looked upon as a fresher version of the 8500 series Curve which is not entirely false. It is indeed a fresher version, but along with it comes a few goodies. We see enhanced memory in the Curve 3G 9330 along with a new face lift – but keeping the same form factor and overall design. So over the last few days, I used the BlackBerry Curve 3G 9330 full time seeing how the experience would be from entry level point of view. Hit the jump for our full review.
The BlackBerry Curve 3G 9330 is a huge improvement from the previous Curve 8530 cosmetically. With the older 8530, the device looked cheap as a whole and did not have a solid feel. I’m not hyping up the Curve 9330 or anything, but it does have a more solid look to it, especially with the shiny chrome bezel it’s rocking. Also the backside has a nice rubber material on the battery door calling for a better grip.
On the top of the back “Curve” is written with the 2MP camera on the left hand side. No flash present of course.
The trackpad is great on it. It’s not too recessed and actually pops out a bit firmly. Problems I’ve had in the past included a too recessed trackpad and ones that wiggled around too much. The Curve 9330 keeps it steady and easy to navigate.
The keyboard I’m not too crazy about. If you were raised with the BlackBerry Bold family (Tour & Torch included), then you don’t favor the Curve keyboard that much. They are really hard, stiff, and spaced out too much. I got used to the stuck together keys which in reality are softer. This is just something you have to put up with if you decide to go with the Curve family.
It’s a 320 x 240 pixel color display. Nothing crazy here at all as we’ve seen the BlackBerry Curve 8300 series have in the past. BlackBerry 6 OS makes up for the poor resolution though but it still becomes annoying when going through messages or scrolling around in the address book.
Again, when looking at this screen resolution after using other BlackBerry smartphones out there which have more pixels, it comes out to be poor. But as far as functionality goes and navigating around it isn’t much of a big deal here. Address book entries and messages look really big but at least it’s easy on the eyes.
So the previous BlackBerry Curve 8530 did have 3G and as you guessed right, the BlackBerry Curve 3G 9330 does also. Generally the device runs on CDMA Dual Band – 800/1900 MHz and CDMA Dual Mode – 2000 1X with EVDO. So it’s not a world phone like the BlackBerry Bold 9650 – strictly CDMA here folks. The built-in WiFi runs on 802.11/b and g. The cool part about having WiFi now is the Wireless Music Sync feature within BlackBerry 6.
If there’s anything I love about the Curve family, it’s the hot media keys on the very top. I’ve used the media player many times while driving, hooking up via Bluetooth or auxiliary and those buttons just come so handy. There’s nothing great about picture quality or video quality (other than the sample video) due to the low color depth and 320 x 240 resolution here. Again folks, its a simple BlackBerry – it does the job, and OS 6.0 on it is a huge plus for it.
The dedicated media keys up top work so well. With other BlackBerry devices, we use the volume up and down keys to switch tracks, but on the BlackBerry Curve 3G 9330, there are media keys up top as shown in the picture. You can go to the next track, previous track, or pause/play the track.
Something I like about both this device and the OS on it, is the fast picture load when browsing through your collection. BlackBerry smartphones have been famous for lagging away when browsing all pictures at once within the same folder. Device freezes up, the hour glass (or rotating clock) appear and empty boxes end up taking far to long to fill up with images. So the big enhancement we see here is images loading really fast. Aside from that, when you have a photo open, you can scroll left and right to the previous or next photo instantly with no lag.
The music media player has some ups to it also. There were features such as scrolling through albums which we sort of thought would only work on touchscreen devices, but once we saw that the trackpad on the Torch was able to scroll up and sort through them, we knew immediately that it would be available for non-touchscreens. Besides album scrolling, you can select the artist to see more tracks by them in list format. For those who carry heavy loads of tracks and have been disappointed with how they were displayed and organized in the past, you’ll be really happy here.
Ringtones and voicenotes stay the same as there was never much with them to begin with them being simple things.
As you all know, the BlackBerry Curve 3G 9330 only has a 2MP camera. Works great for every day photos, uploading to Twitter, sending to friends over BBM or email. Just make sure you’ve got proper lighting in your area because a flash is not included with the device. I do like that it works really snappy and there is no lag between taking pictures which is a huge benefit (obviously) especially if you’re snapping a lot of pics back to back.
Right Side Profile
What we have here is one convenience key on the bottom and two volume up/down keys right above it. They’re in the same place as any other BlackBerry including the Bold or previous Curve. The volume up and down keys do not change tracks like other BlackBerry models do. Since it has convenience keys up top, the volume keys only work for the volume.
Left Side Profile
Here on the left side is the other convenience key on the bottom, which is bigger in size than the one on the right. Don’t ask – that’s just the way most BlackBerry smartphones are designed. Above you’ll see the micro USB input where you can charge or sync your BlackBerry up. In my opinion, that is the best location to have the USB port. If any of you have used the Curve 8900, Tour 9630, Bold 9650, Storm, or Torch, then you know how inconvenient it is typing while it’s charging. All micro USB ports should be placed that high where they aren’t in your way when typing. Above that port is the 3.5mm headphone jack. This comes standard on all BlackBerry models nowadays and definitely goes hand in hand when plugging into your car’s auxiliary and switching up tracks with the convenience keys.
We’ve seen this battery in use for quite some time now, us geeks know it as the C-S2, while others just remember it as the 8300 series Curve battery. Overall, I’m really happy with the battery life provided here, especially after using the BlackBerry Torch 9800 for some time and being annoyed a bit by having to charge it in the middle of my day. With that said, the batter pretty much lasts me all day as I do BBM and email a lot around the clock, with not much phone call-age but it all seems to balance out one way or another. As a personal suggestion if you’re using BlackBerry 6 with this, don’t leave websites open in the background (using HTML 5) that have looping animations and such. That will kill it quick. In any case, the battery life here is far better than the Torch’s battery life and very comparable to the older 8530. The estimated talk time on the books is 4.5 hours.
Operating System and User Interface
I’ll admit it – I ripped OS 5.0 off and out and threw on the latest leak for BlackBerry 6 OS. Some of you may see this as making the device review inaccurate, but 6.0 is indeed the operating system that is intended and to be used for this device. Otherwise it’s just a Curve 8530 with doubled up memory.
BlackBerry 6 is an incredible experience we all had first hand with the BlackBerry Torch 9800. Then trying it on a QWERTY non-touchscreen device gets really interesting. Something I find myself doing is touching the screen on the Curve 9330 thinking it’s touch screen so that kind of hints that RIM needs to make a device like that with the enhancement. Overall, the performance is really swipey and responsive with BlackBerry 6 OS but the screen resolution is a bit of a killer for me with it since I’ve been spoiled with more pixels beforehand. To keep things unbiased here and other devices aside, BlackBerry 6 is one of the biggest keys for this device. So instead let’s keep it side by side with the BlackBerry Curve 8530 and why it’s a better OS experience.
We’re going to sound a bit repetitive here when it comes to the OS because we’ve seen 6.0 on devices and what specs it has. So the webkit browser is a huge deal here, and even with the small screen res, browsing the web is still enhanced, HTML 5 equipped and quite fast over Verizon’s 3G network without WiFi even.
So it’s not always the easiest to determine which BlackBerry is better to the other, especially when we get into more basic introductory devices such as the BlackBerry Curve 3G 9330. So up against what we had originally (8530), this is a huge step in the internal hardware with the doubled up memory, the more elegant look and chrome, solid feel, and more importantly BlackBerry 6 OS compatibility. For those just starting with BlackBerry and looking for that one to start off with, the Curve 3G is the best way to go at a very minimal cost.
-by Mac Jadalhack
Photos by: Cass Chin