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BlackBerry Curve 8310 review: BlackBerry Curve 8310

RIM has incrementally upgraded the BlackBerry Curve with the addition of a GPS receiver, although we're still waiting for 3G connectivity.

Jeremy Roche
Hi, I look after product development for CBS Interactive in Sydney - which lets me develop a range of websites including CNET Australia, TV.com and ZDNet Australia.
Jeremy Roche
4 min read

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.


BlackBerry Curve 8310

The Good

Inbuilt GPS. Full QWERTY form-factor. Large and bright screen.

The Bad

No Wi-Fi or 3G. Short battery life. Sluggish processor.

The Bottom Line

With the addition of GPS the BlackBerry Curve 8310 is an incremental upgrade, although we're still waiting for 3G connectivity.

The BlackBerry Curve 8310 is almost identical to its predecessor the 8300 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.

While the Curve is a quad-band GSM handset, its lack of 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity means you're stuck with painfully slow speeds for data transfers. Bluetooth is supported for headsets and short-range transfers; the A2DP profile is also included for use with stereo Bluetooth headphones.

The BlackBerry Curve 8310 is the first smartphone to use Vodafone Connect GPS navigation software from Yapp Mobile. The application is still under development -- the Curve prompted us to download a few updates during our test period -- and we found it getting slightly better with each new version. Vodafone Connect, however, isn't nearly as aesthetically pleasing or robust as standalone GPS units. In the end, we preferred to use Google Maps Mobile for our GPS and navigation needs. (Another application called BlackBerry Maps is pre-loaded, but it doesn't include Australian roads.)

Instant messaging clients onboard include Yahoo Messenger and BlackBerry Messenger. The onboard media player supports most music formats, including MP3, WMA and AAC. The 8310 itself has only 64MB of onboard memory, but is shipped with a roomy 1GB microSD card (expandable to 2GB).

Aside from the usual Windows applications, we're also glad to see RIM includes PocketMac for BlackBerry software on the bundled CD, allowing you to sync contacts, calendar, tasks, notes, bookmarks and e-mail with OS X applications such as Mail, Entourage and iCal.

RIM states the BlackBerry Curve 8310's battery life is good for four hours of talk or 17 days of standby. During testing we needed to charge the 8310 every other day with moderate-to-heavy use of e-mail, instant messenger, and light Web browsing and use of GPS navigation.

An irritating factor about the 8310 is its lack of processing power. We had Vodafone Connect crash or lock up while the 312MHz processor tried to keep up with the zooming in and constant re-orientation of maps. With multiple applications running, the Curve occasionally told us there was no more memory to open additional applications.

The Curve 8310 is a good enough smartphone for business users that occasionally need GPS, but it left us wanting more: a faster processor, 3G support (with HSDPA, of course) and Wi-Fi. It's only a matter of time before we expect this wish list to come to fruition -- RIM's announced it's releasing a BlackBerry on Telstra's Next G network early next year. But even if RIM comes out with such a BlackBerry by then, it will also be going head-to-head with the Apple iPhone due for release next year, which is rumoured to be a 3G version once it arrives Down Under.