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BlackBerry Curve review

January 1, 2008

in All Articles,Cellphone reviews

With this one, they’ve got it right.

By “it”, I mean “smartphone design, size and functionality”. By “this one”, I mean the BlackBerry Curve.

BlackBerry CurveThe BlackBerry Curve (also known as the BlackBerry 8830) is among the best of the current breed of smartphones. For those who need a keyboard-enabled, corporate email-supporting, stable and functional cellphone, the Curve may be your best bet.

I am partial to smartphones. One reason is because my current job requires one. I need to manage my clients, schedule and email as efficiently as possible, so I don’t want to use a computer unless I have to. I need my information in my hand. Another reason is practicality: I don’t want to carry a planner, MP3 player,ebook reader, camera, and all my other gadgets and tools and toys. I want them consolidated into one device.

My handheld’s information also needs to be easy to access, and the phone needs to be easy to use. While certain phones like the Treo 700w are acceptable (and highly functional), I personally have reservations about the Windows Mobile operating system. It’s not tuned properly for cellphones, giving you a slower-than-usual interface, bad battery life, and overly complex navigation and configuration.

My current phone is a Treo 755p (here’s my review of the earlier-generation 700p). I love the Palm OS. It does more than what I need to do my job (here’s a list ofgreat Palm OS utilities) but unfortunately, Palm OS developers are either unwilling or unable to pull the operating system away from stagnation. While excellent just a couple years ago, Palm OS hasn’t kept up with the times. Unless something drastic happens, I fear the Treo line will be discontinued, or converted completely to Windows Mobile.

That brings us to the next major player in the smartphone world: BlackBerry. They currently have it all: very functional phones without the complexity or performance problems of Windows Mobile, and continually-updated-yet-simple style and interfaces that are better than Palm OS.

The BlackBerry Curve (aka the BlackBerry 8830) is a redesign on the earlier BlackBerry smartphones. Those phones – with their convienient side-mounted scroll-wheel – were great for one-handed use and quick information access. One of the biggest visual changes to the BlackBerry Curve is the scroll-wheel removal: it’s been replaced by a center-mounted trackball, right above the keyboard. While the trackball itself feels very loose (not loosely-mounted, but “loose” as in being very easy to spin), a few minutes of practice is all you need to get comfortable with it. The trackball selector is fine, but also important is the center-positioning: being left or right-handed doesn’t make a difference.

The BlackBerry design process has always taken effort to create a truly one-handed phone. With the BlackBerry 8830, this is even more so the case. The phone is almost completely symmetrical.

In the past, I’ve said the Treo is another good phone that strives and pretty much succeeds with one-handed use. Not anymore: in terms of smartphones, the BlackBerry Curve is now my pick for the best smartphone for one-handed use.

Below see two photos, comparing the Treo 755p with the BlackBerry Curve. The Treo is on the left. You’ll notice the Treo is noticably thicker than the Curve. The Curve is shorter, but slightly wider than the Treo.

BlackBerry Curve versus Treo 755p

BlackBerry Curve versus Treo 755p

The Curve also has a few other perks, including a 2.0 megapixel camera, Bluetooth capability, access to VerizonWireless’ premium services like Broadband Access andVZ Navigator, and other multimedia capabilities.

It’s inevitable that when doing reviews, you compare what you’re reviewing to your current tools and toys. My current smartphone is the Treo 755p. But working with the BlackBerry Curve has changed me. Being a long-time Treo and Palm OS advocate, I’m now almost comfortable admitting that the era of the Treo is gone. The BlackBerry – from its simple, clean and stable interface to its elegant design – has achieved what the Treo has failed to do.

The BlackBerry Curve is an excellent device for those needing a solid, functional, stable, keyboard-enabled smartphone.

The BlackBerry Curve is available from VerizonWireless for $150 and a two-year contract.

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