BlackBerry Curve 9360 in-depth review -

Look and feel

As with all BlackBerry devices, it has a polish few other gadgets can muster and looks like a phone that packs some business acumen. It’s a nimble little thing, weighing in at 99g and only 11mm thick

Ease of use

If you’re upgrading from an earlier BlackBerry to BlackBerry 7 OS – it’s easier to use. If you’ve never used a BlackBerry before and are side-stepping from an iPhone or Android, you’ll find tackling BlackBerry 7 OS almost like learning a new language

Features

Attractive-looking but utterly untouchable 2.44-inch screen, excellent QWERTY keyboard, HSPDA, A-GPS and Wi-Fi. It also has NFC, which might come in use for not contact payment. One day. BlackBerry App World is still a long, long way behind its rival Apple and Android stores

Performance

The 800MHz processor does an acceptable, if not formidable job, and the five-megapixel camera is a huge improvement from the last curve’s two-megapixel snapper

Battery life

Poor. You’ll most definitely have this plugged in when you get home unless you’re a very moderate user of Wi-Fi and sat nav

 BlackBerry Curve 9360 Review -
3

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,9/30/2011 4:32:32 PM

6

out of 10

Performance

6

out of 5

Look and feel

6

out of 5

Ease of use

6

out of 5

Features

4

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Great keyboard, classic BB functionality, cheaper than other BBs

Cons:

No touch-screen is a major downfall, app store still way behind rivals

The fourth and latest BlackBerry handset to make use of the BlackBerry 7 OS is finally among us, and if you’re unfamiliar with your BlackBerry blowers, the Curve series is the one aimed at the more budget-conscious end of the ‘Berry customer base. And low and behold, during our review of the Curve 9360, we were hit by the infamous BlackBerry server meltdown in which for two days RIM’s infrastructure went Chernobyl and BlackBerrys the world over became as useful as doorstops. We won’t let that affect the judgement of a product review – but please don’t do that again, RIM.

Bite-sized ‘Berry

The Curve 9360 is a tiny little thing, stacking up at just 109x60x11mm and weighing a feathery 99g. Despite the back being slightly curved (hence the name) it’s still only 0.5mm thicker than the thinnest BlackBerry ever – the Bold 9900. Caress the top and you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone jack and a touch-sensitive locking switch, with the right side holding a volume rocker (with mute button in the middle) and a ‘Convenience key’, customisable to do almost anything you want from voice dialing to opening BlackBerry Messenger (and set as a hard camera button by default). The left holds a lonely-looking micro USB port.

Up front is where the armoury is. Starting with the screen, we have 2.44-inches of Liquid Graphics display with an impressive 480x360 pixels resolution making for a superb 246 pixels-per-inch. This makes the on-screen action good enough to touch - and this is where the BIG problem lies – touching this screen will get you no more feedback than touching a rock, making it the only new BlackBerry to lack a touch-screen. Keeping in mind this is the budget option, we have to allow for shortcomings, but this is a huge, almost unforgiveable deficiency. Even the most basic handsets, that cost a fraction of the price of the Curve, come with a touch-screen, and having to navigate an OS using just hard-input feels incredibly dated and laborious.

Beneath the keyboard lies a row of function keys – Answer, Menu, Back, End – and smack bang in the centre the trackpad that you’ll use to navigate the software. Further south is the delicious BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard you’ll find on any BB device. The keys are perfectly formed and spaced out enough that in no time at all you’ll be rattling the keys like a master pianist.

The not so Magnificent Seven

BlackBerry 7 OS is a quirky piece of software we’ve discussed in several reviews before. There are five panels of icons to scroll through – All, Favourites, Media, Downloads and Frequents. BB7 also brings a handy notification bar at the top, so once you’ve set up your email, Twitter, and Facebook accounts and logged into the ever-superb-when-actually-working BlackBerry Messenger 6, all your alerts are synched into one handy list.

When squared-up with its beefier big bro the Bold 9900, the 9360 shares a lot of features with the more expensive device. They have the same OS, NFC for contactless payment, almost identical connectivity (HSPDA, Wi-Fi, A-GPS) and a five-megapixel snapper, but in other areas, the Curve 9360 looks like Danny DeVito next to Arnold Schwarzenegger in Twins. Gone is the 1.2GHz processor, replaced with a far less passionate 800MHz heartbeat. The 9900’s 8GB of internal storage memory has been replaced with a paltry 512MB, and the phone’s active RAM has been scaled down from 768MB to 512MB, slowing things down considerably.

Tech reductions are, obviously, common (fundamentally essential, in fact) on handsets devised to be more affordable, but the 9360’s problem is it’s not that cheap. It’s over £300 SIM-free and over £20 per month on two-year tariffs that offer so few minutes and texts even a corpse would run out. And since the last Curve there’s been a huge wave of cheaper Android devices with QWERTY keyboards – the Samsung Galaxy Pro for one – that, while they might have a slightly cheaper build quality, come with touch-screens and access to the Android Market, which has hundreds of thousands of apps compared to BlackBerry World’s mere thousands.

One great download is WhatsApp – an open messenger platform that’s like BBM. Only unlike BBM, which can only be used between people with BlackBerrys, WhatsApp can be used on almost any phone.

Conclusion

Using a trackpad instead of a touch-screen to navigate icons feels too prehistoric – if you’re after a ‘Berry on a long contract we’d highly advise you spend a bit more and get the vastly superior Bold 9900 – the increase in performance is far more than the increase in cost.

Dan Curley