Even though we liked the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8520 that was released for T-Mobile last year, the lack of 3G and GPS was disappointing. Fortunately, RIM has rectified that with its successor, the RIM BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300, which has support for T-Mobile's 3G network as well as GPS. It also offers a number of other improvements that we saw in the Curve 8530, like the 624MHz processor and 256MB internal memory. Admittedly, we're a tad disappointed that the rest of the handset is unchanged; the hardware is almost identical and the features remain largely the same. Still, the Curve 3G does make for a great entry-level smartphone, especially as it is only $79.99 with a new two-year service agreement.
A lot of the BlackBerry Curve 3G's design strikes us as de ja vu; it looks and feels very similar to its predecessor, the Curve 8520. Its measurements are about the same--4.3 inches long by 2.4 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick--and it weighs around 3.6 ounces as well. It has the same 2.4-inch display, the same media keys at the top, and, of course, the same QWERTY keyboard.
One of the minor design differences the Curve 3G has over its predecessor is that the optical trackpad is a touch more raised and rounded, which is a design tweak we like. We found it really responsive as well. Another change is that the 8520 had barriers separating the navigation keys, whereas the Curve 3G's navigation array is completely flat without any sort of division. We preferred the former, as it was a little easier to navigate by feel, but we weren't too turned off by the new design, either. Yet another minor change is that the back of the Curve 3G has is a texturized rubber, so it doesn't slide around when placed on a smooth surface, plus it offers a better grip when held.
Aside from that, the rest of the phone's controls and buttons are identical to its predecessor, so we'll point you to the review of the BlackBerry Curve 8520 for a more detailed design overview.
The BlackBerry Curve 3G comes with an AC adapter plug, a USB cable, a wired headset, a mini CD, and reference material.
The RIM BlackBerry Curve 3G comes with BlackBerry OS 5, but RIM has said that it can be upgraded to BlackBerry OS 6, which we think will be quite an improvement. OS 6 will add a revamped home screen, universal search, easier access to messaging features, a new Web browser, and more.
It has the usual phone features like speakerphone, voice dialing, conference calling, speed dialing, and text and multimedia messaging. It also has a variety of instant messaging options like BlackBerry Messenger, AIM, ICQ, Yahoo, Windows Live, and so forth.
The Curve 3G continues the BlackBerry legacy of strong e-mail options with the ability to sync with your company's BlackBerry Enterprise server in addition to other corporate e-mail systems like Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Domino, and more. You can also add your own POP3 or IMAP4 e-mail information, and it's smart enough to figure out settings from popular e-mail services like Gmail and Yahoo Mail.
The address book is limited to available memory and the SIM card can hold about 250 more contacts. Each entry has room for several numbers, e-mail addresses, and street addresses. You can assign a caller group, a photo for caller ID, and custom ringtones. Other tools include the calendar, a task list, a memo pad, a voice recorder, and a calculator.