T-Mobile was kind enough to send me a BlackBerry Curve 3G for review, and outside of some design changes, it's very similar to the Curve 8520. That said, I noticed the following things in my initial impressions:
- The Curve 3G ships in the same small box as the Torch, and comes with an AC adapter module, USB cable, earbuds, instruction manuals, and a 2 GB microSD card.
- Design-wise, it's nearly identical to the Curve 8500 series, save for a revised bottom lip that's similar to the Curve 8300 line and non-partitioned navigation buttons. Personally, I'm a fan of the non-partitioned layout.
- The Curve 3G has a low-resolution screen, and after working with high-end devices like the iPhone, DROID Incredible, and even the Bold 9700, it's a noticeable difference. It's grainy, and a bit washed out.
- It's capable of running BlackBerry 6, which is a good thing, but it ships with the relatively outdated BlackBerry 5 operating system. Expect to see the new OS sometime this year, pending carrier approval.
- Otherwise, you get the usual array of messaging options with the Curve 3G - push e-mail, AIM, Google Talk, ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). It is still shocking to me that RIM isn't installing BlackBerry App World out of the box.
- Call quality has been good thus far. Earpiece volume is loud, and reception has been strong in both the Charlotte and San Francisco Bay areas. When testing the device in a T-Mobile dead spot, I was able to make a call, though quality was extrememly choppy.
- The thing that improved the 8500 series battery life - the lack of 3G - is obviously not present in the Curve 3G. As expected, the additional connectivity options take a toll on battery life - I was able to make it through a day with moderate use including calling, text messaging, e-mailing, and browsing the web, but die-hard users will probably need an additional battery to make it through the day.
While it's a minor upgrade to the original device, the Curve series has become the BudgetBerry of the group. As such, the revisions, no matter how small, are important to further BlackBerry sales in emerging markets. The device is available in graphite gray and smokey violet, and can be had for $79.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate. Stay tuned for the full review!