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BlackBerry Curve 9300 (Curve 3G)

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 BlackBerry Curve 9300 (Curve 3G) Available now
9th August 2010

RIM's first 3G Curve handset, the BlackBerry Curve 9300 (or BlackBerry Curve 3G) is the QWERTY-keyed counterpart to the BlackBerry Pearl 3G and is a straight upgrade to the BlackBerry Curve 8520.

Not only does the Curve add 3G (but apparently not HSDPA), but it also adds GPS, the new BlackBerry 6 operating system and 802.11n support to the existing WiFi interface. The feature set makes the previous generation Curve look quite primitive.. which in reality it was.

Until now, if you wanted 3G in a full-size BlackBerry then your choice was basically something quite expensive like the BlackBerry Bold 9700, which retails for about €460 SIM-free. The existing Curve 8520 retails for about €230, or roughly half the price of the 9700, and RIM must be hoping to pitch the new 9300 at around €300 or so at launch. Of course, most handsets will be bought from carriers and have a subsidy which will mask most of the price difference.

BlackBerry have been making 3G phones since 2006, so really it's a surprise to see that they were still bothering with GSM-only handsets like the old 8520 at all. If you consider that the Nokia C3 is perfectly capable of meeting basic messaging demands and yet retails for only €120 then it's clear that RIM needed to do something to be a bit more competitive.

We covered the BlackBerry 6 OS briefly when we looked at the BlackBerry Torch, and although it is a better experience than the previous version, it isn't really going to appeal to anyone except existing BlackBerry users. When it comes to using the phone, one limiting factor will be the fairly basic (although very sharp) 2.4" 240 x 320 pixel non-touch display.

  BlackBerry Curve 9300 (Curve 3G)  On the back is a very basic 2 megapixel camera which does at least support video recording. There's a multimedia player and 3.5mm audio socket, and the Curve 9300 supports microSD expandable memory and Bluetooth. The integrated GPS also includes BlackBerry maps and turn-by-turn navigation, although the small screen does not really lend itself well to satellite navigation.

Because this is a BlackBerry then messaging support is first-rate, and it will make a useful option for corporate customers who are already running BlackBerry handhelds in their business.

The fairly large 1150 mAh battery gives a quoted 5.5 hours talktime on 3G (surprisingly only 4.5 hours is quoted for GSM), and 14.5 days standby on 3G and 19 days on GSM. It's a fairly standard BlackBerry size at 109 x 60 x 14mm, but it is relatively lightweight at 104 grams.

If you have an old Curve, then the 9300 is almost definitely worth an upgrade. However, we really feel that this is what the 8520 SHOULD have been when it was launched. Alternatively, BlackBerry customers might find that the BlackBerry Torch 9800 is more to their liking, or perhaps the rumoured upcoming BlackBerry 9760 clamshell phone.

The BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 should be available on a number of networks (including T-Mobile) from August onwards.

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BlackBerry Curve 9300 (Curve 3G) at a glance

Available:

August 2010

Network:

GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 +
UMTS (800/ 850) /1900 / 2100 or
UMTS 900 / 1700 / 2100

Data:

GPRS + EDGE + UMTS (3G) + WiFi

Screen:

2.4" 320 x 240 pixels, 65k colours

Camera:

2 megapixels

Size:

Messaging device
109 x 60 x 14mm / 104 grams

Bluetooth:

Yes

Memory card:

MicroSD

Infra-red:

No

Polyphonic:

Yes

Java:

Yes

GPS:

Yes

OS:

BlackBerry 6

Battery life:

5.5 hours talk / 14.5 days standby (3G)
4.5 hours talk / 19 days standby (GSM)

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