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 9350 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 few Sprint apps like TeleNav Navigator and Sprint Zone. There's a Vlingo app for voice recognition tasks 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 tri-band (CDMA 800/850/1900MHz) RIM BlackBerry Curve 9350 in San Francisco using Sprint Nextel. Call quality on our end was decent. Callers sounded clear with plenty of volume, and we didn't encounter a lot of noise or distortion.
On their end, callers also reported good audio quality on the whole. However, they did detect a bit of distortion, and our voice sounded a lot deeper than usual. They didn't detect much static or background noise, however. Speakerphone calls went very well - callers hardly knew we were on speaker most of the time.
RIM BlackBerry Curve 9350 call quality sample
As a relatively entry-level smartphone, we're not surprised that the Curve 9350 only has EV-DO Rev. A and not WiMax. That's not terrible, however, as we still experienced decent data speeds. We loaded the mobile CNET page in 10 seconds while the full CNET home page loaded in around 20 seconds.
The Curve 9350 has an 800MHz processor, which is an improvement over the Curve 9330's 600MHz processor. We experienced speedy and snappy navigation on the whole as we launched apps and multitasked between open windows.
The BlackBerry Curve 9350 has a rated talk time of 5.5 hours and up to 14.5 days of standby time. During our battery drain test, it lasted 7.28 hours. According to the FCC, the Curve 9350 has a digital SAR of 1.50 watts per kilogram.
The RIM BlackBerry Curve 9350 is a great entry-level option for BlackBerry enthusiasts. It ships with the latest BlackBerry 7 OS, it has a fantastic physical keyboard while still maintaining a slim and compact form factor, a faster processor over its predecessor, EV-DO Rev. A support, and it even has NFC support. It does lack the UMA-based Wi-Fi calling that the T-Mobile version has, but the Curve 9350 is also cheaper at $49.99 after a new two-year service agreement.