The BlackBerry Curve 9320 is a decent and inexpensive smartphone. Here's the rest of our BlackBerry Curve 9320 review.

BlackBerry Curve 9320: calling, messaging and internet

BlackBerries live and die by their ability as messaging and calling devices, and the Curve 9320 is no exception. Synching and uploading contacts is a cinch: Google contacts are imported with nary a seond glance, and BES/BIS synching is supported. You can then edit contacts, should you wish to.

Calling someone up is intuitive: in essence you simply type their name from the home screen. Alternatively you can trawl through your contacts, or set up a shortcut on the home screen. Given the minimal camera hardware there's no video calling, but you can put callers on hold, or set up conference calls. We found call quality decent over the Vodafone network. Despite the handset's svelte features it's comfortable to use as a phone for a decent length of time.

Messaging is the Curve 9320's key skill: setting up email couldn't be simpler, for corporate or personal users (and we suspect more of the latter will use the Curve). Customisation options include the opportunity to change the look of your email inbox. You can have a single, unified message inbox into which you dump texts and BBM updates, as well as Facebook and Twitter messages. Alternatively, you may choose to keep your email inbox simply for emails (a radical move, we realise).

As with all things messaging, RIM has worked out how to make it easy and simple. You can also add third-party messaging options, including Windows Live Messenger and Google Talk, although the dedicated BBM button means most Curve-using IM addicts will likely stay true to RIM's own flavour of instant messaging.

Web browsing on the Curve 9320 is a different matter. When you've used high-end smartphones to internet surf, the Curve feels like a bog standard web browsing device (which, to be fair, it is). It's not bad, but like the camera the web-browsing experience on the Curve feels like a step back in time. You'll quickly tire of waiting for pages to load, as that single-core chip struggles to churn through the data. Given that it is perhaps a relief that the Curve makes no attempt to handle Flash media, but we were disappointed with the way pages look on screen. It may be the screen, or it may be an attempt to reduce the burden on the hardware, but we found that websites looked fuzzy and lacking in resolution.

BlackBerry Curve 9320 web browsing

BlackBerry Curve 9320: OS and software

The Curve 9320's interface will be familiar to users of recent BlackBerries, running as it does the BlackBerry 7.1 OS. It looks a little dated and confused on the Curve's tiny screen, but it is pretty straightforward to use. You can search for anything from the home screen, although the addition of voice search is poorly executed. Along the bottom of the phone's home page are six key options: Messages, Text messages, Contacts, Browser, Media and Calendar.

You get access to the BlackBerry App World so you can add to the software on the phone, but the Curve suffers from the same relative lack of apps that all BlackBerry devices must bear. Winners are grinners in terms of mobile platforms, and right now app developers are focussed purely on iOS and Android, in that order, because that is where the money is. As Windows Phone is promoted by Microsoft and Nokia, expect the pressure on BlackBerry as a platform to increase, and the BlackBerry App World to fall further behind in the apps arms race.

BlackBerry Curve 9320: media player

Before you consider using the Curve 9320 as a media player, you'll want to add to that 512MB internal storage. But if you have sufficient storage, there is plenty to the Curve as a media-playing device. There is a dedicated podcasts app, as well as access to Amazon MP3. You can also synch music files direct from your PC (even iTunes playlists play nicely). Music playback is decent quality.

Video is less satisfactory, as you might expect from a budget device with a small display, although it will do to watch the odd clip. And we do like the addition of an FM radio.

Specs

BlackBerry Curve 9320: Specs

  • QWERTY keyboard
  • BlackBerry 7.1 OS
  • 2.44in qVGA display
  • 512MB RAM, 512MB eMMC (Up to 32GB uSD card)
  • 3.2Mp EDOF camera
  • HSDPA 7.2, HSUPA 5.76, 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth, FM Radio, GPS
  • 109x60x12.7mm
  • 104g

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