Verizon Wireless BlackBerry Curve 9310 Review

BlackBerry Curve 9310

I can still remember the days when Research In Motion’s BlackBerry Curve was the best selling smartphone around. It was even out-selling Apple’s iPhone quarter after quarter for a while. Now that has all changed and the creator of the BlackBerry finds itself struggling to compete with Apple and the never-ending flow of Android-powered smartphones. RIM is in desperate need of a comeback. Many believe that the company’s upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform may be the last shot they get.

We are still months away from seeing the release of BlackBerry 10 smartphones, but RIM and Verizon Wireless have decided to release the BlackBerry Curve 9310 for those that don’t want to wait. The new BlackBerry Curve 9310 is a modest refresh of the two year old BlackBerry Curve 9330. Lets see if it has what it takes to compete.

Hardware:

BlackBerry Curve 9310 Rear

The BlackBerry Curve 9310 looks and feels a lot like the older, Curve 9330 it replaces. It measures 4.29” H x 2.36” W x 0.5” D and weighs in at 3.7 ounces. It’s body is constructed entirely of plastic, but doesn’t feel as cheap as I would have expected. The rear of the device is covered with a nice feeling, textured material that provides a firm grip.

Going around the Curve 9310, you will find a MicroUSB charging port and dedicated BBM button on the left side. The right side has the volume rocker with a mute button and just below those, resides a dedicated camera button. On the bottom you will find a speaker and microphone. The top has a 3.5mm audio jack and a lock button.

The front of the Curve 9310 includes a 2.44″ QVGA display, a full QWERTY keyboard, optical trackpad, LED indicator and the headset. On the back there is a 3.2MP camera with LED flash. Removing the battery door exposes a 1450mAh JS1 battery and the microSD card slot.

Internally, there is a 800Mhz Qualcomm processor and 512mb of RAM. This combination worked well at providing a mostly smooth experience. I rarely encountered the dreaded hour glass while using the 9310. Connectivity options include Bluetooth 2.1, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and mobile hotspot. There is also a FM radio tuner.

One thing that RIM didn’t refresh from the 9330 is the display. They decided to stick with the same 320 x 240 pixels (164 ppi) screen resolution. This is actually a downgrade from the year old BlackBerry Curve 9370, which has a screen resolution of 480 x 360 pixels (246 ppi). On paper, the difference may seem minimally, but in real world use its very noticeable. Edges of text and images appear Jagged. Smaller text, such as the “3G” indicator at the top of the screen, is hard to read without squinting. The display on the BlackBerry Curve 9310 makes the entire phone feel like a relic from the early days of smartphones.

 

Software:

BlackBerry Curve 9310 Home Screen

The BlackBerry Curve 9310 comes with BlackBerry OS 7.1, It is a functional and well organized operating system that is all about being productive. All of the pre-loaded apps you would expect to find on a BlackBerry Smartphone are here. The contacts, calendar and other PIM apps are very well done on the BlackBerry OS.  Users have the option to store just about every detail they would need about an individual contact and the calendar offers features like recurring appointments and customizable notifications.

Other preloaded applications include, BlackBerry Messenger, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, Windows Live, Documents to Go, Social Feeds, BlackBerry Protect and many more. Verizon also includes some of their apps, such as VZ Navigator and VZW Tones. Unfortunately, BlackBerry App World is really lacking third party apps. There is no where near the selection found on iOS or Android. This may be a deal breaker for those of you that enjoy trying out the latest apps.

 

Call Quality & Data:

As a phone, the Curve 9310 functioned flawlessly. I never had a dropped call and audio sounded great on both ends. Data reception was as good as my other Verizon Wireless devices I use.

The BlackBerry Curve 9310 uses Verizon’s CDMA 800/1900MHz network and data is provided by Verizon’s 3G EVDO Rev 0 network. There is no 4G LTE, which is kind of surprising, considering Verizon recently said they wouldn’t be carry any new smartphones that couldn’t use their new network.

 

Battery:

BlackBerry Curve 9310 Battery

One area where the BlackBerry Curve 9310 shines is battery life. I was able to make it a couple of days of light use on a single charge of the included 1450mAh battery. But that isn’t all that surprising considering the low resolution screen and 800mhz processor.

The battery also charged up quickly, making the BlackBerry Curve 9310 a great choice for those that don’t spend much time around a power source.

Conclusion:

BlackBerry Curve 9310 Grip

I can’t see the BlackBerry Curve 9310 doing very well on Verizon Wireless. It is targeted specifically at consumers who are on a budget and looking for a low-priced smartphone, but it doesn’t offer a very good value. The low price of $49 on contract is very affordable, but for the same amount of money you can get better devices on Verizon’s network.  For example, the LG Lucid is also priced at $49, but it offers much better hardware, a lot more apps and Verizon Wireless 4G LTE speeds. In fact, if a consumer had absolutely no budget at all, they could just pick up the Android 4.0-powered Pantech Marauder for free.

The Curve 9310 will only be attractive to “BlackBerry People” looking for the cheapest, new BlackBerry device possible. It offers everything a BlackBerry smartphone has to offer, but it does it in the cheapest, no thrills way possible. Individuals looking for a cheap BlackBerry experience on Verizon would be better served with the BlackBerry Curve 9370.

I am what many would consider a BlackBerry person. I use a BlackBerry Bold 9930 as my primary communication device everyday and I love it. But I simply can’t recommend the BlackBerry Curve 9310. RIM used to dominate the entry-level market with the Curve line of smartphones. Sadly, they simply can’t compete anymore. At least not on Verizon’s network where 49 bucks can buy an awful lot of smartphone these days.