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BlackBerry Curve 9360 Review: In Depth

3

The Good

  • Svelte design and solid build
  • Affordable price
  • BBM and email
  • Resigned interface

The Bad

  • No touchscreen
  • Lack of HD movie capture
  • Limited apps

Succeeding the wildly successful Curve 9300, the Blackberry Curve 9360 is the baby of the Blackberry family, offering many of the standout features RIM is famous for, such as email and messenger, but at a cheaper price point than the Bold 9900. Does it offer enough to appeal to the BBM fans, potentially enticed by Android?

Blackberry Curve 9360 Design and build

Despite being plastic next to the Bold 9900’s glass and aluminium, but the Curve 9360 still feels like a high-quality mobile phone. At 11mm deep, it manages to be well crafted and slim. Rubber volume and camera shutter controls are along the side, there’s a lock button on the top and a 3.5mm jack and microUSB slot in the side.

Internal memory has been boosted from 256MB to  512Mb and there’s a microSD card slot. But be careful removing the plastic back to get to the card slot, if it isn’t on tightly, it will fall off. Twice during testing we had to retrace our steps to find it.

Blackberry Curve 9360: Screen

Despite the screen size remaining 2.5-inches, the resolution has been boosted to 480x360 pixels, meaning text on websites is far sharper and movies appear more detailed and colourful. In fact movie playback is pretty good in spite of the small size.

However, it's not a touchscreen, which is disappointing considering the Orange Barcelona and (slightly pricier) HTC ChaCha are. For most applications it's fine, but you miss it most when you are browsing the web. The magnifying glass controls used for zooming are far slower than pinching and zooming.


Blackberry Curve 9360: User interface

The Curve 9360 runs Blackberry OS 7, the latest version of RIM’s operating system, it’s not hugely different to previous incarnations. Yes, icons are sharper and brighter, but it still works in pretty much the same way to OS 6, with five homescreens, including: Media, Downloads and Favourites for adding contacts and shortcuts.

As we’ve said before, it’s not the most flexible operating system, but it’s certainly easy enough to use. We actually think in it’s current incarnation, the interface works well without a touchscreen.

RIM has made some subtle tweaks to key features. BBM has been updated, so it now supports connected apps including sharing location on FourSquare. Social Feeds pulls in your social networking, podcast and RSS feeds. Choose to view Facebook, Twitter, BBM and Google, Yahoo and Windows Live apps in a synchronised feed or individually.  Use the Favourite tab to pulls together feeds from key contacts and keywords.

Universal Search is included. Click the magnifying glass on the side and start typing and it will not only search your handset, but also YouTube, Blackberry Maps, Google and Blackberry App World. Voice search is a new addition and is moderately successful, it recognised 'Chicken Soup recipe' and 'Transport for London', but didn’t recognise Goodge Street.

WiFi and 3G are on board, as is NFC, which means you’ll able to use the phone to make contactless payments at various shops. While we applaud RIM for including the feature, it’s more about future proofing than actually including a feature you’ll use regularly.

Blackberry Curve 9360: Multimedia

The camera has been boosted to a respectable 5-megapixels. There’s an LED flash, along with 10 scene modes, including Face Detection, however there’s no autofocus. Photographs are fine for snapshots  and uploading to Twitter and Facebook (which you can do at the touch of a button), but look closely and you'll see soft detail and image nois

It's a real shame the Blackberry Curve 9360 can't capture HD movies. Instead the maximum resolution is 640x480, which is smooth thanks to the 30fps frame rate, but colours are drab, it's underexposed and very soft.

 

Blackberry Curve 9360: Performance

RIM’s equipped the Curve 9360 with an 800Mhz processor and 512MB RAM. We would have liked a little more power, but this rate is fairly respectable for a phone like this and matches the HTC ChaCha and Orange Monte Carlo. We need to remind ourselves the Curve 9360 isn't about gaming and movies, thus the processor is perfectly adequate for a phone with messaging as its primary function.

Because the Curve 9360 doesn’t have a touchscreen, it never feels as quick as its rivals. Sometimes when browsing the internet, images take a few seconds to load though and we had the off screen freeze, but nothing too frustrating.

Blackberry Curve 9360: Verdict


The Blackberry Curve 9360 is a well built, user-friendly device that performs the key Blackberry features like Messaging and Email very well and with a redesigned interface, new svelte design and better camera features, it’s certainly superior to the 9300.


However, it's not the fastest, most powerful phone out there, to keep up with the rivals, a touchscreen would have been ideal and (something we always seem to be saying about RIM phones) app choice is still disappointing.

Ultimately, this phone isn't revolutionary. However by sticking to its core features and making an already popular phone better, while retaining it’s affordable price, the 9360 will be a hit BBM fans on lower incomes and anyone who can't afford the Bold 9900.

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