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BlackBerry Curve 9380: Hands-on pictures and first impressions

Announced alongside the new BlackBerry Bold 9790 comes the new BlackBerry Curve 9380. In a nutshell, this is basically the same phone as the BlackBerry Curve 9360. The main difference of course is there’s a 3.2-inch touchscreen as the main interface, as opposed to the full Qwerty and non-touch sensitive 2.5-incher.

That aside, the camera is the same (5-megapixels, VGA video recording, LED flash) ditto the processor (800MHz) memory (512MB) and storage (512MB, microSD up to 32GB).

Design-wise it’s virtually identical to the Curve 9360 from all other angles; you get that same compact curved design with the NFC chip built in to the back cover. There’s a curved volume rocker on the side with a dedicated shutter key for the camera, although thanks to the touchability of the screen, you can just as easily tap the virtual control.

Running on BlackBerry OS 7, the user experience here is pretty much the same as it is on the BlackBerry Torch 9860 – that other touchscreen-centric BlackBerry – and is comparable to the others in the OS 7 range.

You get the same Liquid Graphics icons which look great on the HVGA (480 x 320) resolution display. The smaller processor means that things aren’t quite as nippy here as on the Bold 9900 but it’s by no means a sluggish affair.

Finally, the price. Though we’ve still not heard anything from networks or retailers in the UK, RIM told us that the price point of the BlackBerry Curve 9380 would be the same as the Curve 9360.

The 9360 can be snapped up for free on £20-£25 24 month deals now, giving us an indication of the 9380’s price when it arrives in a couple of weeks. This could prove a hit for those BBM addicts who want a touchscreen BlackBerry, but perhaps found the price of the Torch 9860 too steep.

We’re chasing up for the finer points on availability and cost now. We’ve got these hands-on pics until we know any more and we’ll be posting a quick video, along with our full review of the BlackBerry Curve 9380 soon.

The screen flips into landscape mode almost right away, though sometimes you feel that it needs a bit of goading. The volume rocker and the camera shutter sit along the right hand side.

Over on the left, there’s the micro USB connection. The BlackBerry Curve 9380 is a compact little thing that feels great in the hand; light, but not insubstantial and flimsy-feeling.

The 3.5mm sits up on the top (yay) of the BlackBerry Curve 9380, next to the screen lock control.

The camera unit of the BlackBerry Bold 9380. You get 5-megapixels, VGA video recording and a single LED flash for low-light stills and video.

The camera apps controls, accessed by a tap of the menu button. As you can see, you can geotag pictures straight from the camera, toggle the flash and enable a variety of scene modes.

Despite the BlackBerry Curve 9380 prominently boasting a touchscreen, it wouldn’t be a BlackBerry without the optical control pad and the four dedicated buttons – call, menu, back and cancel/power.

The BlackBerry Curve 9380 side by side with the BlackBerry Torch 9860, the 9380’s spiritual cousin, we feel.

The Curve 9380 is a little smaller than the Torch 9860, but has a similar look. The Torch may boast meatier specs and a bigger size, but the Curve rolls with an NFC chip, which the Torch doesn’t.

Admittedly, NFC is something of a moot point now, with no m-commerce/mobile money services or BlackBerry Tag live and ready for use. RIM clearly feels that NFC is part of the future though.

512MB of storage isn’t much and the BlackBerry Curve 9380 won’t even shoot video unless you’ve put a memory card in. Thankfully, it’s capable of taking microSD’s of up to 32GB large.

The gizzards of the BlackBerry Curve 9380 torn asunder. On paper the battery gives you up to 15 days of standby time, 5.5 hours of talk time and 30 hours of music playback. We’re putting this all to the test in our review of course, so stay tuned ’til then.