Editor's note: The BlackBerry Curve 8310 we reviewed was pre-loaded with Vodafone software. Vodafone has the rights to sell the 8310 exclusively until late November.
The BlackBerry Curve 8310 is almost identical to its predecessor the with the exception that the latest model has GPS built-in. While the 8300 was a silver smartphone, RIM has given the 8310 a sophisticated gun-metal grey finish.
The 8310 has exactly the same dimensions, weight and shape as the original Curve. It remains the most compact and lightest BlackBerry in its class to date -- the BlackBerry Pearl is smaller but has a dual-key QWERTY design. It uses the trackball that we first saw in the Pearl, which we prefer to the jogdial from BlackBerrys of yesteryear. Although the full QWERTY keypad has small buttons, within a couple of days we'd become familiar with the teeny layout and were briskly typing two-thumbed e-mails and text messages.
RIM considerately includes standard connections on the 8310 such as a mini-USB connector for synching and charging and a 3.5mm headphone jack, although we'd prefer to see the latter on the top or bottom rather than the side for pocket-ability sakes.
Voice commands are activated by pressing the shortcut key on the side and the camera is launched via a key opposite this. Volume can quickly be adjusted with a side rocker key and calls can be muted quickly (even in your pocket) with a button on the top.
The display is a bright and vibrant 320 x 240-pixel, 2.5-inch screen, which is easily read in direct light.
The BlackBerry Curve 8310 handles your phone calls, e-mail, contacts, calendar and tasks with aplomb. An easy to use set-up wizard quickly guides you through setting up business and personal e-mail accounts.
There's a 2-megapixel camera on the back for capturing stills, which can be sent swiftly off to an e-mail address or another phone via SMS, accompanied by a reasonably bright LED flash and tiny mirror for self portraits.