Review by Sunetra Chakravati,
12/12/2011 3:51:46 PM
Mobile email is made easy with a very usable keyboard for composing replies.
Other smartphones beat the Curve 8320 for features.
Upon first glance, you may think you’ve seen the BlackBerry Curve 8320 somewhere before, and you’d be right. It’s remarkably similar looking to the Curve 8300 – the first of the trim and tidy Curve range. The 8320, however, is small enough to fit into a pocket yet big enough to incorporate a usable QWERTY keyboard, which results in an ideal mobile email device.
Smartphones in the BlackBerry Curve series are the smallest and lightest smartphones with a full QWERTY keyboard, and its 111g makes it something of a featherweight in the pocket. It is hard to believe that a full 320x240-pixel screen and a keyboard are crammed into its tiny frame.
The keyboard is particularly noteworthy. Given the small individual key size we were surprised at just how easy it is to use. We found ourselves able to type at a decent speed, which is precisely what you want from a mobile email device.
Research in Motion, manufacturer of the BlackBerry, knows that it faces stiff competition from multimedia-rich smartphones that can play music, stream video and take superb photos. So the company is trying to make its business-focused smartphones attractive to multimedia-conscious consumers. The Curve 8320 gets part way there, housing a decent two-megapixel camera, and allowing you to play videos through the media application. This same application lets you play tunes, but the controls aren’t as sophisticated as they are on some smartphones. You can’t create playlists, for example, though you can on your PC through the Roxio media manager software that comes with the device. We do have to credit the inclusion of a 3.5mm headset jack, but wish it were on the top edge of the casing rather than the left side just for the sake of pocket-ergonomics.
You can expand on the buil-in memory with a microSD card and SDHC also supported so you can use higher capacity cards. But one niggle we did have is that the card slot is under the battery, which means you have to power down the entire device just to get at the memory card.
The inclusion of Wi-Fi really makes the Curve 8320 stand out from the crowd of BlackBerrys. Although, this comes at the expense of the GPS antenna that was present in the Curve 8310. We used the Wi-Fi to hook up to our own wireless network, after which we were surfing the web with ease.
The BlackBerry is first and foremost about email on the move. But RIM is trying to broaden its appeal beyond email junkies. The Curve 8320 is a step in the right direction, but to really compete with the market leaders it needs to bring Wi-Fi and GPS together, improve the multimedia handling, and add 3G into the mix.