Product Type: Blackberry Smartphone
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Cute and Curvy
Blackberry Curve 9300
Member Name: Essexgirl2006
Blackberry Curve 9300
Advantages: Compact smartphone with some useful features
Disadvantages: Not as intuitive as I expected, fiddly keypad
My tariff included 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 500mb of UK data allowance. MMS messages are not included but I could send pictures with e-mails as part of my data allowance.
The phone came packed in a compact black box with all the necessary attachments such as a wall socket charger, headphones and USB cable (it's very short - about 15-20cms). It was partially charged when I got it so I didn't have that frustrating wait to start playing with it. The opening screen took me through basic set up steps and function keys. It was all clear and simple. There was also a colour picture user guide (more of a pamphlet) included in the box. My only real problem was that I couldn't set up my e-mail account. The options listed in the User Guide were different to the one on my phone. O2 managed to sort that out for me fortunately, by doing 'something' at their end and by me taking the battery out and restarting the phone a few times. Setting it up to work from my home wi-fi connection was dead simple. However connecting to my boyfriend's home wi-fi was unsuccessful. I asked the phone to search for available networks and it found his router fine, and then asked me to input a pin into the router. As it is a router, it doesn't have a key pad! I tried an alternative way, but it asked me to choose from a dazzling array of network types, none of which were applicable. I never did get connected to his wi-fi, but he has connected his Blackberry Bold as easily to that router as I connected mine to my home network.
Weighing in at 104g it is lightweight for a smartphone, not really feeling that much heavier than the Samsung slider phone I had previously. It is about the same length when the slider was open (approx 10cm) and is 5.5cm wide. This is still narrow enough to fit in the phone pocket in my handbag. Visually it looks professional and smart in black with a gunmetal silver trim. The rubberised black back is easy to remove if you need to change sims or add a media card (a micro SD card is included). There is a scroll key in the middle that you slide your finger over to control the cursor - much like a laptop pad but smaller. This took some getting used to - learning the right amount of pressure to put on it to get it to move, without it flying down the page - I was surprised how firm I needed to be, but I suppose this is better than it being over-sensitive. It can be frustrating though.
WHAT DOES IT DO - AND DOES IT DO IT WELL?
Here I can access my e-mail account on the move. To be honest most of the time I would be happy to check my main e-mail account (which is web based) on my home laptop or work PC, but this is a handy option to have on those occasions that you need to check or confirm arrangements when you don't have access to your usual equipment. You can add up to 10 e-mail accounts so easily check work and personal e-mails as you see fit. With a qwerty keyboards and all symbols represented (try the 'Sym' key or the 'alt' key to find things like the '&' and the '@') it is easyish to send e-mails on the go if you need to. I say easyish - the keys are small and this may not be suitable for those with who aren't particularly dexterous or poor sighted. It was easy to get my contacts from my e-mail downloaded onto the phone. New e-mails appear instantly but I do find that often it shows I have 15 unread e-mails on my phone, for example, but in reality I only have 5 or 6 in my inbox as I have deleted/actioned the rest on the PC but this aspect doesn't update as quickly. Sometimes do have to delete e-mails on my phone, that I had already deleted on my PC.
There is an internet browser which can be connected to your home/office wi-fi or any hotspots. Alternatively it offers 3G connectivity. As the phone has a keypad it doesn't have as big a screen as some touch screen devices. You can zoom in as required and scroll about the page using the scroll pad, but it is a bit limited for anything other than the most cursory browsing.
There is a calendar function but I was initially disappointed with it - it wouldn't let me enter appointments after 5pm. However a subsequent upgrade sorted that and now use it easily all the time.
It comes with GPS to find your location on a map - I didn't find that they placed me particularly accurately either at home or work - at least 1-1.5km out which is a big margin! This is OK if you know where you are and can scroll around the screen until the correct point, but I would use them to orientate myself in an unfamiliar town and 1km out is not going to help me find where I am! I don't think you can use it as a route planner or SatNav, but there may be a downloadable App that could do this. I have downloaded Google Maps which are slightly more accurate but still not spot on.
There are about 75 alerts and ringtones to choose form, you can change them accordingly (i.e e-mail, SMS, IM) or turn them off completely! Of course, you can always download your own, or add from the music player function
It has a music player, but as I have an iPod with my entire music library on it, I haven't felt the need to put music on here. It takes Micro SD cards for those that are interested. There are also a few included games such as Klondike (a solitaire type game), Wordmole, a word making game which I quite like and Brickbreaker which is quite a well known one where you move a slider to send a ball back up to break the bricks. There is also suduku and Texas Hold 'Em, neither of which I have played. Of course you can download more from Blackberry App World
It has a camera but only 2MP. There is no flash so it is for basic use only and the pictures are quite poor quality, especially over distance. There is a small zoom, but it doesn't really add anything to the quality. If a reasonable camera on your phone is important to you, don't consider this phone.
There are mini versions of Word, Excel and PDF on the phone as well as a memo pad and task lists for those using the phone as a business tool.
Like most Smartphones, you can customise your phone by downloading a range of applications onto your phone. Some of these work as business tools, restaurant finders, e-books, games, maps etc. I have really only downloaded free apps - a scrollable tube map, ones to access my Facebook and Twitter accounts on the move and a game of Hangman. There is a varied range, but I don't think it is as wide as the iPhone apps -currently around the 20,000 mark.
AFTER ALL THAT GUBBINS, CAN I STILL MAKE CALLS AND SEND TEXTS?
Yes! Call quality is fine, it is comfy to hold and there is the option of voice dialling (although it never understands what I am saying and tries to call different people). There is a speaker option which I often use on the move as I prefer this to having a call on the earpiece when I am travelling (the phone has Bluetooth) - usually as I don't remember to have it connected. This is lovely and clear and I have no problem hearing anyone, nor they me. It can also make conference calls I believe, but I have no use for that particular facility.
It texts of course, like any other phone, and it has a qwerty keyboard. If you are used to texting on a conventional phone, this can take some getting used to - I still look for the 'B' in the wrong place, but overall is much quicker. You can capitalise and punctuate your messages with the help of the symbol and shift keys. It recalls conversations by text as well, so you can see responses to previous texts if you need to refer back to anything - it is a nice touch, so much easier than scrolling through your message folders trying to remember which text said what time you were meeting next Saturday.
If any of your friends or colleagues also have blackberry devices you can use the free Instant Messaging function by exchanging your PIN with them. This is also a cheaper way of sending photos and documents rather than an MMS.
It can be charged using the wall socket (UK and EU plugs included) or if connected to your computer by the supplied micro USB cable.
I usually leave my phone on all the time - except at the cinema for example - and find the battery life is about two days. That is with regular use, particularly on the e-mails and game functions which I fiddle with whenever I am a bit bored. Keeping bluetooth and wi-fi off can save battery time, but certainly in the case of wi-fi this is negligible.
I think this is reasonably priced for a good but simple smartphone. You can, of course, get better ones but the original outlay or monthly contract tariff increases in line with this. If, like me, you are thinking of getting your first smartphone then I think this is a good place to start. I am disappointed in some respects - I don't think the blackberry curve is as intuitive to use as I expected and I have been frustrated a number of times in trying to do simple things that I would expect to be easier. I have called my provider for support a few times which I have never done with any other phone. I have had the phone about eight months now and have got used to it, again this has taken longer than with an ordinary phone.
Summary: Blackberry smartphone