GADGET WATCH: BlackBerry Curve 9350

There is absolutely no doubt Research In Motion is in a lot of trouble. In fact, the very future of the company remains in question if it can’t get out of the mess it’s in.

But that’s not to say it doesn’t make quality devices. The BlackBerry Curve 9350 is in a long line of well-built and functional handsets. The only question remains whether it can stand up to smartphone leaders Apple and Samsung.

Hardware and features

The Curve is powered by a 800Mhz CPU, with 512MB RAM. Running on BlackBerry OS 7, the 2.44 inch screen measures 480×360 pixels. Of course, it features the BlackBerry optical trackpad. The gadget itself measures just 11mm thick.

Connectivity wise, the gadget features Wi-Fi, a microSD slot capable of up to 32GB of memory, and a microUSB port as well. The camera is 5MP with an LED Flash, along with face detection and image stabilisation.

The battery boasts up to 348 hours of stand-by time, up to five-and-a-half hours of talk time, and 45 hours of music.

What’s the consensus?

The most important part of a phone is the way it handles – software won’t do you any good if it’s not comfortable to hold.

Over at TechRadar, the publication notes the phone feels slimmer, but also compact and sturdy. The plastic casing is tight, and also notes you can remove the back cover with your thumbnail.

Although the phone shipped last August with OS 7, it’s actually been upgraded to 7.1 since then, which adds the option to create mobile hotspots, use BlackBerry tag and FM Radio. It’s an update TechRadar has welcomed.

“If you haven’t used a BlackBerry in a while, you’ll be surprised at how user-friendly the software has become over the years. There are still a few deep drilldown menus that can be confusing, but it’s come a long way, and this is definitely the most intuitive BlackBerry OS ever released.”

It particularly noted the improved browser, which also includes tabbed browsing.

PhoneArena, however, wasn’t so kind, noting the gadget’s feel had some problems with its design. It also particularly noted the poor call quality.

“On our end it sounded like the mic and earpiece were connected because we could hear ourselves talking, only it was muffled and as if we were in a tunnel. All-in-all this is not one of the better phones we’ve tested for call quality.”

CNET also noted the Curve comes preloaded with some software, including Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry’s Social Feeds app.

It also said performance was an improvement over the 9330, and said it “experienced speedy and snappy navigation on the whole as we launched apps and multitasked between open windows”.

Who’s it for?

There’s nothing particularly offensive about the BlackBerry Curve 9350. For an entry-level phone, it’s well built, with a snappy processor. It should provide BlackBerry fans a good selection if they want something that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

But that pool of buyers is likely to be small. So if you fit into that category, the 9350 appears fine. But if you want power, then Apple, HTC and Samsung have RIM beat – and may just have it beat until the company can do something drastic to turn itself around.

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