Having a new phone to review is always a unique experience to have. I was sent the new BlackBerry Curve 9310 to review and I have to say I have mixed findings on this phone. My over all impression is a bit muted as well. More about that at the end of the review.
The Curve 9310 has a 320x240 QVGA 2.44" display screen. This is not one of the crispest screens around. I noticed tearing in some images and text. The tearing is due to the low resolution of the display. Not a deal breaker for me but I would have like to have seen a higher resolution screen.
PROCESSOR AND MEMORY
Having a 800MHz processor and only 512MB RAM, my initial thought was the phone was going to lag and get stutter when I watched videos. This happened a couple of times to me but was not a constant. I also was quite pleased in the speed of the boot up process of the phone which took around 5 seconds.
The Curve 9310 comes with 1450 mAh which was more than ample for my needs. My son watched a lot of videos on the phone and the battery life kept up and still allowed me the use of the phone for the rest of my evening. You can get a full days usage out of the battery with mixed use.
The best way to describe the Curve 9310 is...mini. OK, that's not being totally fair. I'm used to using my Bold 9930 and that is a much bigger phone. So, I guess it would be competent to call the 9310 a compact phone, compared to the flagship phone 99xx series. I honestly felt I would break this phone somehow. I didn't.
The Curve 9310 is 4.3"H x 2.35" W which is small but form and function meet here because the phone will fit nicely into a normal sized person's hand. I am a bigger guy so the phone seemed a bit tiny in my hands. The keyboard meets the size of the phone nicely. Typing on the QWERTY keyboard was easy, efficient and my fingers didn't get in the way of each other when I was typing on it.
As touted, the 9310 has a BBM ready button on the left side of the phone under the charging port. I didn't find myself using it as much as I thought. I just wasn't used to using a dedicated button to open BBM. It didn't get in the way of my holding the phone when I would type so it's a neat little feature to have but in reality, it's the left convenience button that disappeared from most BlackBerry phones. The 9310 has two assignable convenience buttons which is nice to have but in reality, if you want a dedicated BBM button on your one feature button phone, you can always just assign that button to open BBM.
The track pad is the standard track pad that comes on BlackBerry phones. It was responsive, quick and I had no problems getting to what I needed to get to.
OS / INTERFACE
The 9310 I tested came with OS 7.1 (build 126.96.36.1997) and it was as fluid, easily navigable and quick as OS 7.1 tends to be. But it is, what it is. It's BlackBerry OS 7.1 and it seems a tad bit outdated compared to Android and iOS systems. This OS 7.1 version I had on this phone had parental controls so parents who get this phone for their kids will feel safe letting them use it. The phone also comes with an FM radio which is a nice little touch. My reception was of average quality.
The phone lacks the touch screen that some of it's brother BlackBerry phones have. This tended to slow down and make me not enjoy the phone as much as I would have liked. As a 9930 user with a touch screen, I kept tapping the screen on the 9310 out of habit. Frustration set in when the app I wanted wouldn't open. I would press harder then suddenly realize that "Dummy, this isn't a touch screen phone!!" I had visions of my thumb pushing through the display but fortunately I didn't do that.
The Curve 9310 I tested was on the CDMA Boost Mobile / Sprint network. I had no issues in the city I work in making calls and having full bars. But where I live, Boost/Sprint do not have great coverage so I had to deal with little to no network connectivity and used the phone mostly on my home WiFi network.
When I was able to make calls, the phone responded remarkably well. Calls were clear, never dropped and the speaker phone was loud enough to be heard over the outside ambient noise. Also, pairing with a Bluetooth device was a breeze and no problems arose when I tried multiple devices.
My overall opinion of this phone is mixed. Yes, it's a nice little phone. It is everything a BlackBerry OS 7.1 phone is. That being said, it's the place in the BlackBerry stable of phones that gets complicated. The 9310 is not going to compete with the 99xx series. It's not designed to. It is an entry level phone for a person who is wanting to start out their smart phone experience on a budget. This Curve caters to the socially active and connected. It's not designed to be a work horse phone.
This phone was not what I expected. I thought this phone would be a cheap phone that wasn't built for the average phone user. I was wrong. Overall, I would recommend this phone if you're looking for a budget phone, one that if it breaks, you won't be out hundreds of dollars. If you're looking for the first smart phone your your teen, I would easily recommend this phone. This phone is designed for them.