TechPinas Gadget Reviews presents...
BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 Review
BlackBerry Curve 9300 3G is a mid-level full QWERTY candybar handset officially launched by Research in Motion in the Philippines last November 3, 2010. In RIM's current handset hierarchy, BB Curve 3G sits between the best-selling BlackBerry Curve 8520 and the chic BlackBerry Bold 9700.
Looks-wise, BlackBerry Curve 9300 is almost identical to BlackBerry Curve 8520 -- heck, they almost weigh the same. However, there are very subtle design differences, which you can read about via TP's BlackBerry Curve 9300 vs. BlackBerry Curve 8520 Hardware Check post. Actually, the overall differences between these two phones are very little, so much so that one can say that 9300 is merely a 3G version of 8520.
Quoting Gregory Wade, RIM's Managing Director for Asia Pacific, "BlackBerry Curve 3G is for [Curve fans] who want that added connection speed."
BlackBerry Curve 9300 3G is expected to become available in the Philippines via various postpaid plans from Smart, Sun and Globe by early 2011. I believe you'll also be able to get it with a prepaid kit for around Php 16,000 to Php 18,000.
Design Identity and Ports Check:
BlackBerry Curve 3G's face flaunts its 2.46-inch TFT screen with 320 x 240 pixels resolution -- same as the one you'll find on Curve 8520. Below the screen, you'll find the optical trackpad (which is very responsive to thumb swipes), call and drop knobs, BlackBerry button, back key and full QWERTY keypad. Above the screen, you'll see the earpiece and a small led indicator light.
The top panel has the buttons for playing music files. Pressing on the Play button at the middle launches the phone's media application.
The right side shows the volume rocker and the camera button.
Left side has the microUSB port and the customizable button.
At the back, you will find the textured battery cover, BlackBerry logo with metallic finish, and the 2 MegaPixel camera.
Check out the texture of the matte plastic battery cover.
There's nothing at the rear of the device but the mouthpiece.
TP Verdict on BlackBerry Curve 3G Design
Perhaps many of those who've seen the device would agree with me when I say that BlackBerry Curve 3G is easily one of the best looking QWERTY handsets out in the market right now. I think the form factor in itself is very sleek while the metal accents on the front of the device make the phone look both expensive and durable. This is definitely a phone you won't be shy to show your friends and workmates.
BlackBerry 5 Operating System:
BlackBerry Curve 3G runs on BlackBerry 5 OS. 5 pretty much looks like the two previous BB OSes it succeeded. I'm quite familiar with BB OS 4.7 as my BB Curve 8520 ran on it for months before I finally upgraded to 5 just a few days ago. If you're coming from 4.6 or 4.7, here are some improvements you will notice on 5;
1. The map now renders a lot faster -- almost twice as fast. Also, there's less lag when you zoom in or scroll around.
2. When you send photos, BB OS 5 will give you an option to resize photos to 1024×768, 800×600 or 640×480. The aim is to save space and reduce data transmisssion costs.
3. When scrolling through your list of emails, the date header remains stationary, making it easy to track which emails are sent on which dates.
BB 5 OS is very organized, simple and easy to use. If you're on 4.6 or 4.7 and you're planning to upgrade to 5, I'm sure the transition will be seamless. If you haven't used with a BB phone before and you're now thinking about getting one, you'd probably just need to play with the OS for a day or two to be familiar with how it works.
Messaging, Email and Social Networking Services:
Ask BlackBerry users why passed on other brands and chose their phones and I bet they'd answer either;
1. Because a lot of celebrities use BlackBerry or
2. Because of BB's strong messaging and social networking features
Like BB Curve 8520 and BB Bold 9700, BlackBerry Curve 9300 comes with features that make it an ideal device for users who frequently use their phones to send emails, chat with friends and relatives and update their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
QWERTY Keypad for Typing Messages Quickly, Accurately and Easily
BB Curve 9300's keypad is identical to the one found on 8520. It has keys that are ergonomically designed for thumb-typing, which I found to be very easy to work with. What I particularly like about the keypad is the springy and tactile feedback I get when I press on them. I'd imagine though that those with particularly large or fat thumbs might have an issue with the keypad. Nonetheless, I believe a great majority would not have problems working with it.
Facebook for BlackBerry Twitter for BlackBerry Applications
Two of the better social networking applications out for phones right now are actually created by Research in Motion specifically for their BlackBerry phones. Facebook for BlackBerry and Twitter for BlackBerry, which you can download and install on BlackBerry Curve 3G, make accessing your favorite social networking accounts easy, fast and efficient. To access these apps, you'd have to activate BlackBerry Internet Service or BIS on your BlackBerry phone. The three biggest networks in the Philippines offer quite affordable BlackBerry Internet Service plans bundled with unlimited mobile internet. If you're a road warrior or a businessman who moves around a lot and who want to make the most out of your BB, I'd suggest you avail of a monthly BIS plan, which is more efficient than daily BIS activation.
BlackBerry Messenger (BBM)
BlackBerry Messenger or BBM is an instant messaging application for BlackBerry smartphone owners. (And just like Facebook for BlackBerry and Twitter for BlackBerry, you can download and install this on BlackBerry Curve 3G and use it by activating BIS). With a chat-style layout and unlimited chat characters, BBM makes it easy to exchange messages with the people who matter.
Many have found that messaging BlackBerry Messenger actually costs less than communicating via SMS or text, especially while overseas. For many Pinoys, this feature should prove very useful, as many have friends and loved ones abroad. Thus, just as it's an exclusive thing for BlackBerry users, BBM is a cost-efficient way of staying connected.
BlackBerry Internet Service brings out the best in BlackBerry Curve 9300 3G. Sure, you can access Facebook and Twitter via the phone's browser without activating BIS but if you want to discover the features that hardcore BB fans (the CrackBerries) have grown to love on their phones and to unleash a BlackBerry phone's true power to keep you connected with your social networking, email and messaging accounts while on the go, then make sure that you always have BIS on your phone. If you're BlackBerry is issued by your company, register it on your office's BES or BlackBerry Enterprise Server.
BlackBerry Curve 9300 3G sports a 2 MegaPixel camera without flash that also takes VGA videos. While BlackBerry phones aren't particularly 'known' for delivering really amazing photos (unlike some Nokia phones, for example), I'd say that - in well-lit settings or conditions - 9300's camera gives surprisingly good photos that you can upload to Facebook or Twitter or print, even. Again, provided that there's ample light, BlackBerry Curve 9300 3G's camera delivers shots with quite fine details.
Whatever shortcomings BlackBerry Curve 3G may have in the imaging department, it makes up for in its sound and music playing capabilities. The main speakers are located at the top of the device, along with the media buttons. The sound quality from these speakers is actually one of the best I've heard from a smartphone; it's not just loud but also clear and brilliant. The same can be said when you use the BB earphones that come with the device.
Again (not that I'm known for giving lengthy pieces to go with my review verdicts), I'll keep this short;
If you're someone who moves around a lot and you want a not-so-expensive but nonetheless gorgeous phone that will keep you connected with your Facebook, Twitter and Messaging accounts and will eventually become part of your persona ('Ah si ____, yung naka-BlackBerry?!'), I'm sure you'll fall in love BlackBerry Curve 3G.
All things considered (looks, OS, specs and features), I'm inclined to give BlackBerry Curve 9300 3G 8.8 out of 10 stars.