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Blackberry Curve 9300 3G - so what's new

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Blackberry Curve 9300 3G - so what's new Powered By Docstoc
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        The BlackBerry Curve 9300 3G is the newest handset to come from
the RIM team; it is a mid-ramge handset pitched halfway between the
business mobile phone user and the consumer.
The Curve 9300 is not expensive and is designed to help those who have
not yet converted to a smartphone to take the leap with this cost
effective option.
It has 3G connectivity as well as Wi-Fi, and promises fast internet
browsing while apps and themes can be easily downloaded from the
BlackBerry App World (which has recently just been updated).
Visually there is not much to report, the Blackberry Curve 9300 looks a
lot like many previous Blackberry's with the QWERTY keyboard and rounded
corners. In look sit is very similar to the Blackberry Curve 8900 while
it is being pitched as the newer, quicker Blackberry 9700.
Now for a look under the hood:
There is a microUSB port sitting alongside the 3.5mm headphone connection
and the left-hand convenience key, which has a default option set to the
voice-dialer shortcut.
The camera button is situated on the other side just by the volume
controls.
On the top of the phone are the media controls – play/pause, skip
forwards and skip back. This signals the intention of RIM to pitch the
9300 3G as a media player as well as a business mobile phone.
The BlackBerry Curve 9300 3G offers a range of connectivity options to
keep business mobile phone users up and running wherever you are, with
Wi-Fi and GPS along with its namesake 3G network.
The 2-megapixel camera is a bit of a disappointment and lacks consistency
with the rest of this media focused phone, the flash and autofocus on the
BlackBerry Bold 9700 are much better.
The Blackberry Curve 3G 9300 has great quality email abilities as with
the other Blackberry models, also the BlackBerry Messenger for instant
messaging other BlackBerry users for next-to-nothing is a great function
to have especially if you use Blackberrys across your business.
The homescreen icons can be customised to whatever your most-used apps,
functions and web shortcuts are, and the full menu is easy to organise
into folders.

The menu is made up of rows of icons but this is supplemented by webs of
text-based menus to navigate through within applications. You can adjust
settings, carry out functions and put the knife to applications. At first
the choices available in the menus can be intimidating and may take new
Blackberry users a while to get used to. The idea is that you can get to
your favourite applications as quickly as possible and the Blackberry
curve 9300 does achieve this so all is not lost - just depends on your
patience!
As I am a little late getting around to this post it is important to note
that the Blackberry OS6 will be updated within the next few days - on
October 14th to be precise so with the update we can expect great
improvements in connection speeds and functionality. I will do a seperate
post on the upgrade.
As with all Blackberrys the BlackBerry App World now has thousands of
good quality apps that can easily be accessed from the phones main
navigation.
You can also customise your themes through buying themes from designers
or build your own, using different fonts, background images, ringtones
and the like.
Most standard functions of the handset are very easy to launch. To make a
call you can either hit the call button, or simply start typing a number
or name of a contact from the homescreen.
It is a bit of a hassle to write a new text message as you cannot simply
go to your inbox and be presented with an obvious option to compose a new
message, you have to launch the internal menu by hitting the BlackBerry
button, then scroll through the list of options 'til you reach 'Compose
SMS'. However, you can also launch an SMS from the contacts section too.
It's easy to make calls, end calls and to hang up a call, you don't have
to wait for the sometimes-slow proximity sensor to kick in and give you
the option.
Sound quality on the Blackberry Curve 3G 9300 is excellent which is
obviously a vital necessity for the business mobile phone user. Voices
could easily be heard and background noise didn't interrupt or distort
the conversation as with some phones.
The reception was generally good and only got weaker in the well known
black holes that some of our friends habitate in.
The phone book is a heavyweight. It's quite texty but you can add photos
to your contacts. It wasn't that easy to synch our facebook friends to
our Blackberry contacts so not great socially.
To make up for it, you have seemingly endless options when setting up new
contacts, from nicknames, job titles and home and work addresses, to
birthdays and relevant webpages.
This might be information overkill for the non business user, but if
you're syncing the handset with your Outlook account, then this is a
great function as much of your data can be automatically saved by the
BlackBerry Curve 9300 3G.
You can also group your contacts into easily manageable related groups so
that they are easier to get group messages to so useful for seperating
your teams/employees as well as your social contacts.
There is a good search functionality on the homescreen for finding your
contacts - you simply start typing their name and then you will be
displayed with a list of contacts from which to choose from - click and
you start dialling!
You can slao assign a fast dial function to 23 of the 26 alphabetical
QWERTY keys so great for rapid dialling your most used contacts. You can
also set the default contact option at a person by person level from
calling to emailing.
BlackBerry gained their competitive advantage through their superior
email functionality and the Blackberry 3G 9300 is no traitor to this
tradition. To set up a webmail account just put in your address and
password. You can synch your contacts as you add them with your
Blackberry address book.
If you want you can re-route all of your emails and texts to one central
inbox which is useful for rapid management of messages but if you are
active on multiple email addresses then this can become quite a confusing
function.
The other great messaging function that all BlackBerry handsets offer is
BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). This means free texting to other Blackberry
users.
The BlackBerry Curve 3G's QWERTY keyboard is good, but nothing special
with no improvements on previous models; its raised buttons are better
than the the flat slide-out QWERTYs found on some phones but it is
overshadowed by the sharply angled keys of the BlackBerry Bold 9700 which
makes it a little easier to cock up the typing.
Automatic text correction was generally doing it's intuitive job, and
those of you who work in an aggressive foul mouthed office environment
will be chuffed to hear you can continue your office culture on the
BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300. All you'll have to contend with is the
disapproving underlining of the more offensive curses rather than
automatic corrections.
The internet browser on BlackBerry OS 5, which will be running on the
BlackBerry Curve 3G at launch, is well known to be pretty crappy. It's
slow to open web pages, even slower to render images, only offers one tab
at a time and is generally a bit of a pest to use, hopefully OS 6 will
put an end to this!
When browsing you really have to make good use of the zoom function in
order to see smaller images and read any text. Zooming in to get a better
view of text tends to be quite smooth, although we were often left with
extremely jaggedy pixellated images after a zoom-in.
The optical track pad gives you more freedom to move the cursor around
the web page than a D-pad would, although it did tend to be overly
responsive, making selecting that tiny little link a real hassle.
It also comes in handy when you want to select text to copy and paste on
the BlackBerry Curve 3G, as you can grab massive chunks of text in one
quick swipe.
Sharing links is very easy, which is a great function for passing advice
and tips to your clients and colleagues. It is an option in the browser's
menu. You can choose to send the link in an email, via SMS, MMS or
BlackBerry Messenger. The other standard feature is the inclusion of
bookmarks, and you can organise these by named folders to keep things
tidy.
The camera on the BlackBerry Curve 3G is a pretty poor affair. When you
launch the camera app, the only options you're offered onscreen are to
zoom in or out, and take the picture. If you need a good camera for work
then this is not the business mobile phone for you.
To fiddle around with the (admittedly limited) options requires you to
click the BlackBerry button and enter another of those text-heavy menus.
Here you can play around with the white balance, picture size and picture
quality, as well as opt for monochrome or sepia options if you're feeling
a bit old school.
It's nice to have the sepia and monochrome options, we suppose, but they
do smack of being token options, and almost highlight the limited amount
of features the camera offers.
To zoom in and out, you simply roll a finger across the optical trackpad
– easy enough, but a mixed blessing.
If you want to take an image using the handset in a landscape position,
then you can use the shutter button on the side of the handset, but if
you're after a portrait shot then you must click the optical trackpad to
take the picture.
Unless you're really quite firm with the button, you'll find yourself
zooming when you already had the shot nicely framed up – something we
found to be a real annoyance on several occasions.
Zoomed in images lose a lot of quality. Here you can see the same flower
from three different zooms; the first is zoomed completely out, the
second 3x and the third is zoomed in the full 5x.
As you can see in the zoom images, the camera isn't too bad at handling
colours when there's a big difference between them. But the red of the
flower still comes out a little glassy, despite being taken in average
daylight – bright but a little overcast.
Where the camera struggles with close-up shots (in the image below we
hadn't even zoomed in – the fuzziness comes from a lack of autofocus)
it handles long-shots much better.
The images aren't massively crisp, either, which is no more than we'd
expect from a 2-megapixel camera. Suffice to say, this isn't the ideal
handset for shutterbugs.
The BlackBerry Curve 3G doesn't do too badly handling a lot of light. As
you'd expect, it seeps into the whole image, but the dark areas do retain
a suitable amount of contrast.
It's also worth noting that the 2-megapixel camera lacks the flash of the
BlackBerry Bold 9700, so low-light photography is very much miss and not
a whole lot of hit. Like the still camera mode, video recording on the
BlackBerry Curve 3G offers the most basic customisation. The only options
here are between two sizes (normal or a smaller MMS size) and colour
effects (normal, black and white or sepia).
One feature we did appreciate, however, was the ability to pause
recording then continue. Rather than leaving us with a bunch of little
video files needing editing together on a PC, we had one handy video file
with several shots in (like the video clip below).
Like the still camera, the video camera's ability to handle bright
colours is not bad, but you do still get that unreal gloss over objects
like flowers.
Differentiating between similar colours is a bit of a struggle for the
BlackBerry Curve 3G. In real life, the greens of the leaves in the video
above were noticeably different, but here they merge into one Kermit-like
mass.
You'll notice that the wind fluttering through the leaves looks a little
jaggedy and jumpy, and we can assure you it was the handset not nature
that was at fault here.
It's a shame that you can't zoom while filming. You have to decide on
your zoom before hitting record, otherwise you'll have to manually move
closer to your subject.
Emailing videos works fine as long as the file size isn't too big. Any
video clip over about 30s will need to be transferred by USB instead.
BlackBerry OS 5 is not known for its brilliance in the media arena. While
the BlackBerry Curve 3G does display track information and album artwork,
the music player is very basic. It does offer you the option to shuffle
or continuously play albums, artists and tracks, however.
The other notable features is the ability to either build your own
playlists or command the BlackBerry Curve 3G to create an automatic
playlist featuring artists of your choosing. There's no FM radio on
board, so you'll want to make sure you have plenty of music tracks to
listen to.
Sound quality is average – even through quite high-quality Sennheiser
in-ear headphones – but at least it's better than the BlackBerry Curve
3G's built-in speaker, which is tinny and awful.
Of course you can also control the media player by using the buttons on
the top of the handset. This controls both the audio and video players.
The following audio files are supported: MP3, AMR-NB, AAC-LC, AAC+,
eAAC+, WMA, Flac, Ogg Vorbis.
Video playback isn't particularly brilliant quality on that 320x240 pixel
screen, but the video player is quite nippy, and it skips happily between
clips.
If you don't have much stored on the handset, you can visit YouTube
within the mobile browser – we'd recommend sticking to the Wi-Fi to do
this.
MPEG4, H.263, H.264, WMV9 video formats are all supported on the
BlackBerry Curve 3G.
The image gallery displays all your photos in a pleasing thumbnail
layout, but viewing them on such a small, low-quality screen is not
exactly satisfying.
Uploading images to Facebook and other social networking apps is easy –
you just do it through an option in the internal menu. There's no such
option for sending videos to social networks though, although you can
share them via email or Bluetooth.
Suffice to say, this isn't the best handset for anyone looking to video-
blog on the go – we'd point you in the direction of the iPhone 4 for
its front-facing camera, or the Sony Ericsson Vivaz which records in HD
and makes sharing videos super easy.
The headphone jack is located on the side of the handset, just above the
USB connector. It's often a little easier on the headphone connection if
it's located on the top or bottom of the handset – particularly if
you're going to be storing the handset in a pocket.
You'd think, given the location of the media playback controls on the top
pane of the BlackBerry Curve 3G that this might have been a sensible
place for the headphone jack too. It's a 3.5mm connector, so you'll have
the freedom to use a wide range of headphones.
We managed to get the BlackBerry Curve 3G to last two full days on one
full battery charge, although it was getting very touch-and-go towards
the end of day two.
During this time, we were taking photos, using email, web browsing and
downloading apps, as well as making several calls.
This is just about in line with what RIM has stated for the handset's
battery life – it offers 4.5 hours of talk time, 29 hours of music
playback or 19 days of standby time.
Physically speaking, the battery is tiny – which no doubt helps the
BlackBerry Curve 3G retain its low weight.
The native Google Maps app on board the BlackBerry Curve 3G is not the
worst we've seen – the Sony Ericsson Vivaz's poor efforts could well
take that prize.
A recent update has vastly improved matters. Getting directions between
locations has suddenly become much easier – a matter of simply filling
in clearly marked boxes with your destination and locations.
Although accurate and much nicer to use post-update, the maps could still
be a little slow to load when you're out and about and relying on the 3G
network. The compass, however, is brilliant – quick, accurate and easy
to navigate by.
It's just as well that Google Maps comes pre-loaded, given the
monstrousness of BlackBerry's own native maps app, which is clunky,
confusing, slow and generally makes life difficult for the user.
Gone are the days when you couldn't use BlackBerry Desktop Manager with
Apple Mac computers – now you can quite happily back-up, restore and
sync your BlackBerry Curve 3G, even if you're completely PC-less.
Creating a backup file from your phone is a simple two-click process, and
if you're in the secret service or work for a complete loser who checks
your emails, then you can encrypt your essential data from within the
Manager.
It's a shame that the Desktop Manager doesn't include a quick and easy
way to import your images and videos, though, and there's no overview of
your applications already stored on the handset.
Using the 3G in areas of good reception is a breeze – we tested ours
using a T-Mobile SIM and found that most of the time we were pretty happy
with the level of reception we were getting.
These were the glory days, when downloading was a quick and easy matter,
browsing the web was not too painful, social networking apps updated
quickly and emails were in and out of our inboxes like hipsters to a
Starbucks.
Too bad then that as soon as signal dropped a notch, the handset became a
little unstable. We'd find ourselves spending frustrating minutes
watching a blue progress bar cross the screen at slower than snail's
pace, and often lost signal altogether where moments before there had
been plenty. Very frustrating and unreliable.
Luckily the Wi-Fi fared better. We had no problems maintaining a signal,
and web-based services were notably quicker.
The Bluetooth connection was also fine, and the BlackBerry Curve 3G does
offer A2DP connectivity, so you should be able to use wireless headphones
with no problems.
Applications
BlackBerry's App World is not as well-stocked as the Android Market or
Apple's App Store, but there is a range of useful, good quality
applications. You may find these a little more expensive than on other
platforms, however, and there are a lot of rubbish apps.
Downloading applications and themes is very straightforward. Once you've
found an app you like the look of, just simply select it in the App World
and hit download.
Whenever possible use wireless connections as we found the 3G to be a bit
unreliable at times.
The BlackBerry Curve 3G does come well-stocked with onboard apps though.
As well as the traditional calendar, notebook, clock and calculator apps,
you'll be able to get going with Windows Live Messenger straight away.
There's also a suite of office-based apps – Word To Go for reading and
editing word processed documents, Sheet To Go for spreadsheets and Slide
To Go which, unsurprisingly deals in slideshows. All of these are good
little functions for managing your workload on the move - essential for
the business mobile phone user.
If you're sentimental about your text messages, then you may appreciate a
handy little app called ''Saved Messages" to which you can, er, save
messages that matter to you separately from your inbox.
Of course, you'll also get an array of BlackBerry games on board the
BlackBerry Curve 3G. From the illustrious BrickBreaker to the frustrating
WordMole, they'll keep you busy on the commute if you forget your book.
Like its fellow Curve handsets, the BlackBerry Curve 3G is one of RIM's
highly capable handsets aimed at a more youthful, fun-loving consumer
than the traditional business customer.
It's pretty similar to the rest of the Curve range, including the
BlackBerry Curve 8500 with which it shares its external media controls.
The design is slightly updated, though, and the 3G connectivity gives it
an edge.
The BlackBerry OS 6 update, on its way to the handset in the coming
months, will set it apart from older models like the rest of the
BlackBerry Curve range.
What it shares in looks with the BlackBerry Bold 9700, it sadly lacks in
specs – the screen is a lower resolution, the QWERTY less well-angled
for speed-typing and the connectivity and processing powers leave a
little to be desired.
The optical trackpad is a little more skittish than that of the
BlackBerry Bold 9700, however. We found it a bit unwilling to make small
movements, which meant we often had a difficult time selecting the
options we wanted.
The Curve 3G doesn't purport to be all things to all people, unlike it's
newest BlackBerry cohort, the BlackBerry Torch.
That said, the BlackBerry Curve 3G is definitely a step up from the
candy-bar stylings of the BlackBerry Pearl 3G, and despite the similar
functions and connectivity, that full QWERTY keyboard really sets it
apart for serious emailers.
Having forgone the touchscreen route, the BlackBerry Curve 3G shares
little in common with many mid-range Android phones like the HTC Wildfire
and Sony Ericsson X10 Mini – at least in terms of hardware.
Many will prefer the candybar-like keyboard positioning, preferring it to
the slide-out QWERTYs found on the Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro and LG
GW620.
In terms of apps, the BlackBerry Curve 3G can't really compete with the
likes of the iPhone and Android handsets like the HTC Legend. Quite aside
from the issues of stock, the hardware lacks the additional functionality
– like a gyroscope, a high-res screen or a touchscreen – that often
make or break a good app.
However, it's at least on a par with the Nokia E72 that features a
similar hardware layout and uses the Ovi Store's stock of applications.
Because of the BlackBerry Curve 3G's looks, it's all too easy to compare
it to the BlackBerry Bold 9700. But these comparisons are unfair, as the
lower-spec BlackBerry Curve 3G will always come off worse.
There's no camera flash, a lower-res screen, less powerful processing
power and a lower-quality keyboard.
Still, the Curve 3G retains many of the great features we loved on the
BlackBerry Bold 9700. Its design is svelte and attractive, the optical
trackpad is incredibly (sometimes a little too) responsive and both
handsets will enjoy the benefits of BlackBerry OS 6 when it's released in
a few months.
But forget looks – the BlackBerry Curve 3G is very much a Curve
handset. Low-cost materials and build place it squarely in the Curve
range, even though we prefer the more grown up, slimmer looks of the
Curve 3G, compared to earlier iterations like the BlackBerry Curve 8900.
To be honest, there's not a great deal between the Curve 3G and its
range-mates – the main difference is its connectivity, and the 3G is a
real boon.
The BlackBerry Curve 3G's physical QWERTY keyboard is great for text-
happy users, and this is what will set it apart from other budget social
networkers like the HTC Wildfire and Samsung Monte.
Having said that, if you've used a touchscreen in the past, you may find
yourself missing the additional app functionality and multi-touch web-
browsing that's present on most higher-end Android smartphones like the
HTC Wildfire and HTC Legend, as well as the iPhone 3G and all its more
recent iterations.
It's been difficult to judge the BlackBerry Curve 3G as a handset in its
own right, so similar is it to the other members of the Curve family. But
it has held its own, and despite a spec sheet not necessarily as
chocablock as most smartphones, the Curve 3G isn't a handset we'd be
completely ashamed to own.
During our time with the BlackBerry Curve 3G we grew to love that QWERTY
keyboard, even though it's not quite as good as the BlackBerry Bold
9700's effort.
As usual, BlackBerry's email and messaging tools are top notch, and we
were impressed with the call quality and great reception that was
generally offered by the handset.
BlackBerry curve 3g
With the BlackBerry OS 6 upgrade imminent, the interface can only get
better, and we're looking forward to advanced media features, meaning we
can take full advantage of the physical media buttons atop the Curve 3G.
However, these were the things that made us stand over the phone with a
bowed head and a frown;
As people who've spent a lot of time with more powerful handsets, it was
impossible to stop ourselves getting frustrated with the elements of the
Curve 3G we wanted more from.
The screen's comparatively low resolution is one of the ways that RIM is
able to keep the cost of the handset down, but for media fanatics it just
won't cut it. The 2-megapixel camera is woefully restrictive. Similarly,
the clunkiness of the menu system and the onboard browser will frustrate
until you can upgrade the software.
Overall:
Not bad, great for email and basic browsing as well as occassional media
use - this will improve with the new OS this week so if you are looking
for a cheap smart phone then you could do a lot worse!        <!--
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