Just about a year ago, we gave you a review of the Blackberry Curve 3G 9300 which was a good replacement to the Curve 8500 series ““ the upgrade to a 3G connection and having GPS capability was a significant change back then. Let’s take a look at the jump from the Blackberry Curve 9000 to the newly released next-generation BlackBerry OS7-toting Curve 9360 and see if it’s worth the upgrade.
I like this new sleek design of the Curve 9360 which is thinner than the previous versions. I thought that it was because of the tapered edges of the unit but when I compared it to the older version, it really is significantly thinner at 11mm.
RIM still retained the rubber material but the matte metal-looking finish and the glossy plastic back dominated the outward appearance and it gave me the impression that it was expensive than your usual Curve series. I don’t know why they got rid of the rubbery and textured grip-friendly battery cover but this one looks good on its own.
The screen is still 2.4″ with a 480×360 pixel vibrant display. The display is just so crisp and clear compared to the previous version of the Curve. The phone comes with a 5MP (2592×1944 pixel) camera and thank you, RIM for *finally* including a flash! I have been waiting for that feature for the Curve.
I also like the BlackBerry’s highly-acclaimed simple and clean keyboard. In the previous versions, the number pad had a grey color to keep it distinct among the other keys. This time everything has the same color. The Call and Drop buttons on the left and right side aren’t green and red as well. Maybe that is one of the reasons why the phone looks stylish and expensive ““ due to its simplicity in design. It looks so much more serious and executive that way. Typing using the keyboard is very comfortable in my opinion although some are saying that the keyboard is too cramped up.
The top of the phone has what looks like a touch panel for lock/unlock but instead it’s a physical button. It’s a good thing they took the Blackberry Bold’s lock feature and placed it on the Curve. Not only is it convenient, but this way, my letter “œa” button won’t have to suffer so much whenever I need to lock my phone. Music lovers, don’t you worry ““ your music player buttons that used to be on top (previous, play/pause, next) are still here (more on this later). Beside the lock button is the audio jack (which used to be placed at the left side, beside the USB port). Good move by RIM because it’s easier to keep your earphones plugged in even if it’s in your pocket or if you own a holster.
Volume controls are still on the right side along with a convenience key at the bottom right and another button between the two volume controls. The previous version of the Curve had another convenience key on the left side but for some reason, RIM decided to do away with one.
Finally on the left you’ll only see the microUSB port for data and charging. I’m rather glad that the sides of the Curve is made out of rubber instead of matte metal because plugging the USB cable won’t make me cringe the way plugging the USB cable to the new Blackberry Bold 9900 is. Does metal to metal scratching make you cringe the way I do?
The Curve 9360 runs on the new Blackberry OS 7. It has an organized interface with fluid transitions. I must say that the interface has improved a lot, having a Notifications drop down portion and an organized panel where you can separate your favorites, media, frequent apps and others.
I think that there are less steps to take now to get to your destination; less swipes and clicks to get to the app you want to go to. Also, opening apps and transferring from one app to another is really fluid and fast. Even with a lot of apps open, it still performed pretty well. Once in a while though, some apps freeze (such as the App World that I couldn’t get to work on this unit) but maybe (let’s hope) that it’s just the installation that made it that way.
One thing that annoyed me a lot is RIM’s way of error-checking. There is this annoying Quincy Report that pops out every once in a while whenever there is a form of a lag or error. Good thing it can be disabled. Also, when I do a battery pull on the unit, the start-up screen always asks why I had to reboot the device and it goes to as specific as going through a few drop down menus to let RIM know that my App World froze and I needed to reboot. It’s so annoying and I can’t find a way to bypass that. But I guess it’s one way for RIM to make sure they’ll catch it on the next software update.
UPDATE: We got word from the product team here that this pesky error reporting only happens in the review unit they lent us so buyers shouldn’t be expecting this problem.
Earlier on, I mentioned that they took out the music player buttons on top (previous, play/pause, next). I found out that they integrated these buttons into your volume control buttons. Clicking up and down changes the volume. However, holding the button down changes the track to the previous song (down) and the next song (up). The mystery button between the volume control functions as the play/pause button. I think it was genius.
Speaking of genius, OS7 has this voice-activated Universal Search. It’s supposed to be helpful in helping you find files, contacts and messages in your smartphone. I tried saying common apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Maps, Google and they all worked!
Another new feature with the OS7 is the Near-Field Communication (NFC). It’s supposed to allow you to transfer files with other devices that have NFC. Too bad I wasn’t able to test this feature out because I didn’t come across another Blackberry with NFC.
The 5MP camera wasn’t all too impressive for me although it serves its purpose of taking daily photos to post on your social network account. Shots under broad daylight were pretty clear but when it comes to low lighting situations, there’s a lot of noise in the output, even with image stabilization.
Here are a few sample photos taken with the BlackBerry Curve 9360:
There are scene modes to choose from other than Auto ““ there’s face detection, portrait, sports and close-up to name a few. Geo-tagging is also a new feature. As for video recording, it’s still VGA (640×480) but I’m able to zoom in and out while taking a video.
The Curve 9360 has a battery rating of 1000mAh which is low for a smartphone but not for a BlackBerry it seems. However, it’s lower than previous Curve phones by 150mAh. RIM claims that talk time for this phone is up to 5 hours and standby time is up to 14 days. I didn’t really get to test that bit but with all the apps that are open for me daily ““ Facebook, Ubersocial, Foursquare, browser, BBM and my emails, it lasted me the whole day before having to charge it again.
The Blackberry Curve has always been the entry-level smartphone that has the basic requirements. With the Blackberry Curve 9360 though, it seems like it’s a lot more than that with all the new features packed into it. I would say that it’s more of the Blackberry Bold’s little sibling now because it not only looks more of (previous versions of) the Bold but it also feels like one too. RIM has done a good job in improving this series.
Since the Blackberry Curve 9360 is more than what we expected design-wise and feature-wise, it also translates to a price tag higher than what we’re used to for the Curve. This smartphone retails for Php16,990 which is more than what I expected for an entry-level Blackberry but I guess it’s only fair since as I mentioned, it doesn’t feel entry-level at all.
|BlackBerry Curve 9360 Specs:|
|2.44″³ display @ 480Ã—360 pixel|
|512MB of RAM|
|512MB internal storage, up to 32GB microSD|
|BlackBerry OS 7.0|
|WiFi 802.11 b/g|
|5MP camera with LED flash, image stabilization, face detection, digital zoom, scene modes|
|VGA video recording|
|Bluetooth 2.1 w/ A2DP|
|GPS w/ aGPS support|
|Li-Ion 1,000mAh battery|