Review: BlackBerry Curve 9380
The BlackBerry Curve 9380 is the entry level full-touch smartphone offered by Research In Motion. When this was first announced in Jakarta, Indonesia, people were surprised because they were probably expecting a full-touch Torch but not a full-touch Curve model. With the Curve 9380 you get a compact, pocketable, lightweight smartphone with all the core functions of a BlackBerry for a more affordable price. It’s literally the little brother of the BlackBerry Torch 9860 which is RIM’s other full touchscreen smartphone with premium specs.
By the way before we move on to the review let me just share that our cat, Tiffy, loves the Curve 9380. For some strange reason she keeps staring at it. Here’s proof:
Product Design and Hardware
Let’s start with the display. The BlackBerry Curve 9380 has a 3.2-inch TFT capacitive touchscreen. Resolution is 360×480 which results to around ~188 pixels per inch. The display is good enough for mid-range smartphones since the usual lower-end phones like the Samsung Galaxy Y just have less than 135 pixels per inch. Images, text, and videos come out pretty well. By the way, some might find the 3.2-inch screen too small though. There were instances during use when it was hard to type on the on-screen keyboard so I ended up using it mostly on landscape mode.
Below the screen you’ll find four navigation keys (Call, Menu, Back) and the optical trackpad at the middle. The keys are actually built-in the plastic frame making it a bit hard to press. You’ll have to exert some effort and it will take some time to get used to. It’s not a deal breaker but I think the phone would have been much better if this was made easier for users to press.
Above the screen you’ll find the BlackBerry logo, earpiece, and the LED notification. At the sides you’ll find the volume rocker, micro-USB charging port, and the 3.55 audio output. At the very top is the lock/unlock.
The design of the back of the Curve 9380 is pretty gorgeous. It’s curvy and it flows downwards from the middle. This design combined with the size makes it very “holdable” and “pocketable”. The phone just feels wonderful in your hand! My only complaint with the back plate is that it’s a constant fingerprint and smudge magnet but that’s the trade-off if you want something as glossy as this.
At the back you’ll also find a 5MP fixed focus camera with LED flash. This camera can also record VGA video at 30 frames per second. It can take decent photos in good lighting but don’t expect great shots when you’re in a low light environment.
Software and Performance
In terms of specs the Curve 9380 sports the following: a single-core 800MHz processor, 512MB RAM, Wi-Fi connectivity, 3G (HSDPA), GPS (BlackBerry maps app is preloaded), and 150MB storage (expandable via MicroSD up to 16GB). The specs are just right to power the operating system, BlackBerry OS 7 since the over-all experience is pretty smooth. You won’t have any problems using Twitter, Facebook, Messaging, and E-mail with the Curve 9380.
What about messaging and communications? That’s the true power of BlackBerry right? At the end of the day it boils down to you either loving or hating how RIM implemented the on-screen keyboard. For people with big fingers you’ll definitely have a problem because of the 3-inch screen. There just isn’t enough real estate for you to type comfortably. However we’ve found that the BlackBerry Curve 9380 is perfect for typing on landscape! It feels very natural and we rarely made mistakes in typing long messages and e-mails.
When it comes to browsing and surfing the web nothing really beats touchscreen devices. That’s the beauty with the Curve 9380. Checking out websites is a far better experience here compared to even more premium BlackBerry phones like the Bold 9900 or 9790. Of course the experience on the more expensive full touchscreen option, the Torch 9860, is far better because of the bigger screen but that’s for another review.
This is where I won’t hold any punches. RIM needs to seriously beef up their library of apps. They have a couple of good ones available already in the BlackBerry App World but it’s nowhere near either the iOS App Store or the Android Market. RIM needs to get a-grade app developers to start creating products for them fast! They need better games, better reading apps, and more social networking options.
When it comes to viewing photos, listening to music, and watching movies the Curve 9380 delivers well. You have all the basic functions in the photo gallery including zooming, rotating, setting as contact photo or wallpaper, and sharing to various social networking sites. The music player is all fully featured with the album art and the ability to create custom playlists on=the-go. Lastly the video player supports a variety of movie files so you don’t have to go through the hassle of converting the stuff you’ve downloaded into another format just to view it on your mobile device.
True to the BlackBerry brand you get crystal clear calls on this device. Voice quality is great and so is reception. By the way the Address Book/Contact List app is also good. You can put your contacts into groups and you can even split them in two categories: Business or Personal.
By the way, one major plus is that the Curve 9380 is already enabled with Near Field Communications (NFC) technology. There aren’t many accessories for this tech yet but when it comes (including BB Tag) then at least your phone will support it.
Verdict, Pricing, and Availability
The BlackBerry Curve 9380 is a great full touchscreen smartphone that delivers the core BlackBerry experience to the user (minus the keypad). It’s an entry level device meant for young professionals, college students, and teenagers who probably have a long list of contacts on their BBM list. For more mature smartphone users you might want to take a look at the premium line-up of RIM which includes the BlackBerry Torch 9860.
The BlackBerry Curve 9380 is already available here in the Philippines through reseller stores. SRP is PHp16,990 making it one of the more affordable BlackBerry OS 7 units in the market today.