RIM is a company of choice, a company of flavor, and definitely a company of Curves, so it was no surprise when they announced the all new, all touch BlackBerry Curve 9380. The biggest question is, does this mid range touch screen BlackBerry compete against the likes of Android devices, or the iPhone 3Gs? Follow me after the break as I dive into the latest BlackBerry to join the Curve family.
- Hardware overview
The Curve line has been known for its cost efficiency, and sadly sometimes this BlackBerry family tended to have a cheaper feeling to it when held in your hand. Well I’m glad to see that this has changed. The all new Curve touch really has a solid feel to it, and it almost fits into the Bold series in the terms of craftsmanship and design.
On the front of the device you’ll find the 3.2” full-touch display coming in at a resolution of 480 x 360 pixels, not the highest resolution on a BlackBerry, but on this size of a display the images look crisp and actually quite vivid.
On the front of the BlackBerry Curve 9380 you will also find four hardware buttons, a start call, BlackBerry menu, back, and a close/end call button. You’ll also find an Optical trackpad for navigating and selecting text with. Overall the whole package of the Curve 9380 is quite appealing, so follow me below as I break down the new, all touch BlackBerry Curve 9380.
- Curve 9380 display
This addition to the Curve family features a 3.2” all touch display packing 480 x 360 pixels. While RIM hasn’t made the shift to a newer screen technology like IPS, the display on the Curve has fantastic viewing angles, and actually has really good color reproduction. One thing I found people asking me while using this device over the past week or so was if this display was better then the one on the Bold 9900 or Torch 9860. While spec wise it isn’t, it sure has a nice curb appeal to it.
- Hardware buttons
When thinking of an all touch smartphone you probably don’t think about physical buttons, you know maybe one button to get back to the home screen, but 4?! Hells no, but this isn’t just a smartphone, it’s a BlackBerry. I’m going to be straight up and say that one of the biggest (besides things like BBM, Email etc) things I like about BlackBerry is that while they still offer all touch devices, their phones still have those physical buttons. If you’ve ever been to Canada and experienced our winters they are mighty cold and it’s almost a necessity to wear gloves, and we all know how touch displays work with gloves. So having the ability to answer a phone call without taking of my gloves is almost a necessity.
While the camera on the Curve 9380 is the same 5 MP sensor found on the other BlackBerry 7 devices, RIM has seemed to have gone and disabled the high-definition video capture option and replaced it with a VGA mode, giving you video that is good for Facebook or capturing your friends doing hilariously stupid things, but I doubt you’ll be filming your next Hollywood production with this camera. While I would have liked to see a 5 MP camera with 720p video, I often need to remind my self that this is an entry level BlackBerry, with a lot of non entry-level specs.
- BlackBerry 7 Operating System
With the introduction of the BlackBerry Curve 9380, RIM also brought along their newest operating system, the BlackBerry 7 OS. The BlackBerry OS 7 is RIM’s fastest and most responsive user interface to ever hit a BlackBerry handheld. The new OS takes advantage of the built in dedicated GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) to deliver what RIM has dubbed “liquid graphics,” definitely a deserving title. RIM has also given the BlackBerry 7 OS a much-needed visual upgrade, replacing the outdated stock icons with new colorful, fully-redesigned icons. But while the performance of the new OS is quite evident, it’s hard for me not to think that this is truly just an upgraded BlackBerry 6 which is the same as the previous BlackBerry 4, 4.5 , and 5 operating systems. By RIM using the same core operating system, the legacy issues we’ve been seeing are still there as RIM pushes the aging OS further and further. Things like the infamous hourglass are still present, and while it shows up much…much less then on previous BlackBerrys, it’s still there reminding you of previous generations. Let me continue and break down different areas of the new operating system, follow me below.
- OS responsiveness and graphics
As I stated before the BlackBerry 7 operating system is RIM’s most fluid and responsive SmartPhone OS shipped to date. With the operating system tapping into the new hardware on the Curve 9380, RIM has been able to provide a much needed user experience upgrade. Things that would have previously taken minutes to complete now take seconds and can often be completed in the background as you power on to another task. One example of the new power would be after a reboot. Previous to BlackBerry 7, accessing your media on the external Micro SD card after a device reboot would render your BlackBerry useless as the device indexes the media to provide you with a better experience accessing your music. Well, with BlackBerry 7 you are now able to let the device index your media and still go in and listen to your favorite tune as it works away in the background.
Something that users of other operating systems have been spoiled with has now made its way to BlackBerry 7, voice search. On the Curve 9380, featuring BlackBerry 7, you are able to search your device with your voice and I must say it works very well. Even when I’m in a loud environment the voice search is still able to understand what I’m asking it to search for.
- Documents to Go Premium
One would expect that a BlackBerry, a device built around business users, would have a lot of business features. While it does, one thing it’s always been missing was a fully featured document editor. With BlackBerry 7 (and QNX) that is a thing of the past. The new operating system features a fully functional copy of Documents to go, an application that is fully compatible to Word, Excel, and Power Point, letting you create, edit, and share documents right from your BlackBerry 7 device. On a Curve 9380 equipped with a powerful processor and the Docs to Go suite, searching a 500 page document is done in seconds and with ease, giving me more time to play some Roller Coaster Rush 3D.
Now this is where things really start to improve, and that is with the new BlackBerry 7 browser. I’ve been told by RIM that the browser that they’ve built for the Curve 9380 is about 40% faster than the one found on the Bold 9780 and about 100 times faster than the browser on any BlackBerry OS 5 enabled device. The new browser has eliminated almost all checker-boarding, something that has pained BlackBerry users for many years prior. Also, RIM has enhanced the HTML5 rendering engine to bring you impressive results on webpages built on the new standard. While experiencing this new browser on a full-touch device is a bit more enjoyable due to the extra screen real estate, this enhancement is a much-welcomed addition to my BlackBerry experience.
- Battery Life
On the Curve 9380 RIM states that you will get 5.5 hrs of talk time and 15 hrs of stand-by time. While I was quite sceptical due to this being a full touch device, and they tend to suffer in the area of battery life, RIM’s claims on battery life with the Curve are quite accurate. You would definitely get a full day of use even with some media or game play during the day.
Looking at the Curve 9380 you might not even think that it’s part of the Curve family. Looking at it head on you’ll immediately think Torch, but think again. While I don’t think I’ll be leaving my trusty Bold 9900 any time soon, the Curve 9380 is most definitely a phone perfectly fit for those looking for a reliable BlackBerry experience at a cost that won’t break the bank. The days of low cost devices equaling cheap handsets is over with the all new, all touch BlackBerry Curve 9380.