BlackBerry continues to beat the corporate e-mail drum with support for all sorts of systems and services, including BlackBerry Enterprise Server, Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Domino, and Novell GroupWise. You can also use a free but limited version of BES with which you can sync your Exchange calendar, contacts, and tasks. For consumers not tied to the corporate network, you can sync up to 10 different POP3 or IMAP4 e-mail accounts via BlackBerry Internet Service. Popular Web services like Gmail and Yahoo should already have those settings preloaded. However, the default setting for Gmail and Yahoo is not IMAP, so deleted e-mails are not synced, and you'll have to do it manually.
E-mail alone just doesn't cut it these days with smartphones, so we're happy to see the Curve is preloaded with social networking apps like Facebook, Twitter, and BlackBerry's own Social Feeds app that acts as a hub for RSS feeds, BBM, Facebook, Twitter, and a variety of other social media outlets. BBM itself has been upgraded to BBM 6, which features better integration with third-party apps.
The Curve 9360 is otherwise the same BlackBerry as before. It has the usual productivity features like a calendar, clock, memo pad, tasks list, calculator, voice notes recorder, and file manager. You do get a premium version of Documents To Go, BlackBerry Balance (which helps you balance your work and personal calendars), BlackBerry Protect, and a password keeper. Other apps include two games--Brick Breaker and Mole--and a couple of T-Mobile apps like Web2Go and T-Mobile Mall. There's a Slacker app for streaming music as well. You can download more apps from BlackBerry App World.
The Curve 9360 supports a variety of media formats that include MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, FLAC, OGG, MPEG4, H.263, H.264, and WMV. Simply drag and drop them onto a USB mass storage device if the phone is plugged into a PC, or you can use BlackBerry's Desktop software. The Curve 9360 only has 512MB of internal storage, though, so you should make use of the fact that the phone supports up to 32GB microSD cards.
The 5-megapixel camera is definitely a major upgrade over the Curve 9300's 2-megapixel model, giving pretty good image quality. Photos were sharp and colorful on the whole. We did detect a bit of an orange hue in indoor shots, and low-light photos needed Night mode or flash more often than not. The Curve 9360 does not support 720p HD video.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz) RIM BlackBerry Curve 9360 in San Francisco using T-Mobile. Call quality was good. We enjoyed great clarity and volume on our end. There wasn't much distortion or background noise as well.
On their end, callers too reported loud and clear call quality. However, they did say our voice sounded a little lower than usual. Still, there wasn't a lot of crackling or static, so that was a minor nitpick. Speakerphone calls sounded great too.
RIM BlackBerry Curve 9360 call quality sample
Unfortunately, the Curve 9360 does not support T-Mobile's superfast HSPA+ network, but we still managed to surf the Web at typical 3G speeds. We loaded the mobile CNET page in 15 seconds and the full CNET home page loaded in around 51 seconds.
The Curve 9360 has an 800MHz processor, which is an improvement over the Curve 9300's 600MHz processor. We had no problems navigating through the phone's multiple directories and apps launched with little to no delay.
While the RIM BlackBerry Curve 9360 is a decidedly lower-end phone than RIM's Bolds and Torches, we think it's a great option for those still loyal to the BlackBerry brand. It comes with the company's latest mobile operating system, BlackBerry 7 OS; it has a decent physical keyboard; and it's definitely an improvement over the previous Curves with its faster processor and improved feature set. It even has support for NFC and for T-Mobile's UMA-based Wi-Fi calling service. For only $79.99 after a new two-year service agreement, the Curve 9360 is good entry-level smartphone for those wanting to give BlackBerry 7 OS a shot.