BlackBerry Curve 8900 : Specs | Price | Reviews | Test. RIM's BlackBerry Curve 8900 is the second generation of the company's compact, full-QWERTY messaging smartphone. It features the same basic form factor as the original 8300 series devices, but gets some nicely upgraded features as well as a bit of the BlackBerry Storm and Bold's styling. We reviewed a T-Mobile USA version of the 8900, which supports the company's UMA based HotSpot @Home VoIP calling service. With all the fuss surrounding the arrival of the Storm it's easy to forget that most people still buy a BlackBerry to keep up with their email while on the move and aren't all that fussed about it's other myriad of features.
The Curve 8900 is designed to appeal directly to these folks, as it takes the classic Curve design and updates it with a few useful tweaks. We're disappointed by the lack of 3G, but the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900 is a solid update to the Curve series, bringing a better design, We didn't know what to expect from the BlackBerry Curve 8900 but were pleasantly surprised by its attractive, slim design. Research In Motion has overhauled its popular BlackBerry Curve smartphone with the 8900. This new model features a slim design, an excellent camera.
The overall build quality of the device is very good with one exception: the rear battery cover. RIM cut some corners with it, and it shows. The cover is loose fitting and rattles. The Curve 8900's overall design is nice, the finish is attractive, and I appreciate the soft-touch rubbery surface used on the sides and bottom of the phone. It's a solid piece of hardware.
Call audio quality on the BlackBerry Curve 8900 is exceptionally good, especially when on UMA based VoIP connections. Reception on GSM networks seems perhaps slightly better than on the 8320, but not much so. The speakerphone functions very well from the perspective of the remote caller, though it can sound a bit harsh to the Curve user. RIM rates the Curve 8900 for 6 hours of talk time or up to 19 days of standby time, and we can at least offer that the battery life seems better than in the 8300 series devices. For T-Mobile USA users, the Curve 8900 is compatible with the carrier's My Faves calling service.
Contact management on the Curve 8900 is very good, and the ability to search for contacts merely by typing a first and/or last name from the home screen is handy. Ring profiles on the 8900 are hugely customizable, though still a bit complex due to all of the available settings. Speed dials and speaker independent voice dialing is also available on this newest member of the Curve family.
Messaging is still the focus of any BlackBerry, and the Curve 8900 deals with such tasks well. Multiple email accounts can be easily configured on the device, and users have options as to whether they prefer combined or separate inboxes for their email and SMS/MMS messages. RIM thoughtfully included a large number of keyboard shortcuts to make messaging even faster, such as hitting the 'R' key to reply to a selected message in the inbox.
The BlackBerry Curve 8900 functions on any of the four major GSM/EDGE network bands, but lacks 3G connectivity completely. WiFi access will help mitigate that omission, but even the WiFi data speeds seem sluggish at times. The Curve 8900 supports USB mass storage emulation and Bluetooth connectivity for headsets as well as stereo headphones.
Design and User Interface
Multimedia / Applications
From a multimedia perspective, the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900 is a very capable device, much more so than the older 8300 series devices were. For starters, the 8900 features a very nice 3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus and an LED flash. The photos it captures are sharp and properly colored, and the camera can also record 240x180 pixel video. Thanks to its real 3.5mm headphone jack port and reasonable music player, the Curve 8900 also does well as a personal music player. We had a 16GB Sandisk Ultra microSD card in the Curve that was filled with music, and it performed quite well. It's worth noting that the Curve 8900 only ships with a 256MB microSD card in the T-Mobile USA package.
The web browser on the Curve 8900 is very, very capable, but suffers from what could well be slowness issues associated with RIM's own servers, which try to compress the data that runs to the phone. The phone is also equipped with organizer apps, like a calendar, that can be synchronized with a personal computer over USB or to a corporate BlackBerry server. There are a ton of other apps available for the Curve, though the phone lacks the convenient Application Center that is found on the BlackBerry Storm 9530 for Verizon.
The RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900 runs the BlackBerry OS version 4.6, and as such features a much more modern look than the older models do. In fact, it is exactly the same as the one found on the BlackBerry Bold 9000 that AT&T offers, and you can get a bit more information on it in the Bold review we did last year.
But the short story version is that the new UI added color and shading to what was previously a very spartan looking operating system. Deeper level menus can still turn into long lists of black text on a white background, but the more common functions in the phone have a much prettier look and feel that is very modern.
The trackball controller remains one of the best features of the BlackBerry family of devices. It is fast, accurate, and versatile. Whether scrolling through those longs lists or merely navigating through a web page, it is great to use. The frequent use of the BlackBerry menu key and the total lack of softkeys might put off some people new to the platform, but experienced users will find BlackBerry to be one of the most efficient systems available when it comes to getting things done quickly. For the busy business professional, that means a lot.
Features of the BlackBerry Curve 8900 include:
- 3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus, LED flash, image stabilisation and 2x digital zoom
- Video recording (240 x 180 pixels)
- LCD display: 480 x 360 pixels, 65,000 colours (2.44 inches)
- Media player (Supports MP3, WMA, MIDI, AMR-NB, WMA, AAC/AAC+/eAAC+, 3GP formats plus DivX & XviD support)
- Messaging: SMS, MMS, instant messaging, push email with attachment viewer
- Built-in speakerphone
- Voice dialling
- Voice memo recorder
- MP3 ringtones plus a wide choice of alerts and visual indicators
- GPS with BlackBerry Maps
- Personal organiser functions
- Vibration alert
- Internet: Web browser, RSS feeds, GPRS, EDGE
- Connectivity: WLAN, Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR, USB, RIM wireless modem, 3.5mm stereo headset port
- Memory: 128 Mbytes plus 1GB microSD memory card (up to 16GB)
- Size: 109 x 60 x 13.5 mm
- Weight: 110g
- Quadband GSM (1900/1800/900/850 MHz)
- Talktime: 5.5 hours
- Battery standby: 356 hours
When everything is added up, the BlackBerry Curve 8900 is one of the best smartphones on the market. The 8300 series was great, but the 8900 series is even better. With GPS, an autofocus camera, good web browsing, and WiFi/UMA support, the only thing that appears to be missing is 3G. We can live with that, for now.
We at MobileBurn give the BlackBerry Curve 8900 a well-deserved "Highly Recommended" rating.
You'll find a gallery of photos shot with the Curve 8900's autofocus camera, as well as additional videos, on the following pages.
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