Editors' note: The RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900 for AT&T is similar to T-Mobile's Curve 8900 in design. For this review, we will be concentrating on the different features and performance compared with the T-Mobile version. For a full description of the smartphone's design, please see our review of the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900 for T-Mobile.
First offered by T-Mobile, the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900 is now available from AT&T for $149.99 with a two-year contract. The smartphone is largely like T-Mobile's version except it offers support for the carrier's various services, including AT&T Navigator, and free access to AT&T's nearly 20,000 Wi-Fi hot spots. The hardware improvements and additional features include the high-resolution display, a full HTML Web browser, and a faster processor, and make it a great upgrade from the BlackBerry 8300 series.
However, unlike T-Mobile, AT&T has a fairly good stable of QWERTY devices and the Nokia E71x and the Samsung Jack give the Curve a good run for its money. For $50 less, both smartphones offer many of the same features and add 3G support, which the Curve lacks. The RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900 is a good messaging smartphone and if 3G isn't important to you or you're a BlackBerry loyalist, you'll be very happy with it. Otherwise, we think the Nokia E71x and Samsung Jack offer a slightly better value.
As we noted earlier, AT&T's RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900 has features akin to the T-Mobile model, but it adds a number of AT&T services, including AT&T Navigator, Yellowpages.com Mobile, and AT&T Music. The Curve 8900 also supports the recently launched BlackBerry App World, which you can use to peruse the catalog for new applications. The catalog has a basic, but easy-to-use, interface and features a fairly comprehensive database of applications, which you can view by category, top downloads, or featured items. You can also search by title. We downloaded several programs, including Facebook and Pandora, over AT&T's EDGE network with no problem. The Curve 8900 also comes preloaded with a number of apps and personal information management tools, such as Documents to Go Standard Edition, a Calendar, a task list, a memo pad, a voice recorder, a calculator, a password keeper, and more.
The Curve offers quad-band world roaming, Bluetooth 2.0 with stereo Bluetooth support, Wi-Fi, and GPS. The only thing missing in the wireless department is 3G support, which again, you can get with the Nokia E71x or the Samsung Jack. Alternatively, if you want to keep it within the BlackBerry family, you can upgrade to the BlackBerry Bold. However, we realize not everyone needs 3G, and for occasional browsing, the EDGE speeds are satisfactory (see Performance for more).
The Curve 8900 is equipped with a 3.2-megapixel camera with video-recording capabilities, flash, autofocus, 2x zoom, and image stabilization. In camera mode, you get a choice of three picture sizes and three picture qualities. There are white balance settings and the capability to add various effects to your photos, and with the built-in GPS, you can also geotag photos. The camcorder records clips in two formats (normal and MMS) with sound and offers video light and color effects.