BlackBerry Curve 9360 review: Up and about
Retail package is ok
There's nothing surprising - or disappointing - about the contents of the BlackBerry Curve 9360 retail package. You get a microUSB data cable, a charger and a single-piece set of earphones. There's also a 4GB microSD memory card (inserted in your phone) and the usual bunch of papers.
BlackBerry Curve 9360 360-degree spin
The BlackBerry Curve 9360 stands at 109 x 60 x 11 mm and weighs 99 grams - almost the same size and weight as the previous two Curve phones, the 9300 and 8520. Well, it's been a while. It's either that or the new Curve is darn good. The phone is pleasingly compact and friendly. A tidy package that means business. Just the way we like it.
Design and build quality
Simple, efficient and to the point, and it seems to come naturally for the BlackBerry Curve 9360. Yes, you can tell it's a Curve - the beads of the QWERTY keyboard are a telltale sign. But a phone this slim could've easily been a Bold too.
It's an all-plastic handset but the build is solid. Simple and to the point, the Curve 9360 looks the business messenger part. The only thing we disliked is the glossy battery cover that gest greasy in no time - so much so that the whole thing feels slippery in the hand. A bit of rubbery finish and the Curve 9360 could've one of the most comfortable phones to hold. The phone is sized and shaped for excellent palm fit.
The top half of the front is taken by the 2.46" HVGA+ display (480x360). This is one of the big upgrades in the Curve lineup - a step up from QVGA. The Curve 9360 has a pleasantly crisp screen with vivid colors, nice contrast and viewing angles, and very good sunlight legibility. You can check out its brightness performance in the table below.
Our dedicated brightness test showed that the Curve 9360 screen is really bright. Its blacks, on the other hand, aren't the deepest we have seen, but they are okay for the LCD league.
|Display test||50% brightness||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2||Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
|LG Optimus Black P970||0.27||332||1228||0.65||749||1161|
|Apple iPhone 4||0.14||189||1341||0.39||483||1242|
|Samsung I9000 Galaxy S||0||263||∞||0||395||∞|
|Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc||0.03||34||1078||0.33||394||1207|
|Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II||0||231||∞||0||362||∞|
|BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900||0.29||403||1376||0.47||618||1304|
|BlackBerry Curve 9360||0.40||380||946||0.55||584||1054|
The keyboard is what you usually get in the Curve lineup. It's four rows of spaced out buttons, each popping out of its own nest, as opposed to the delicately sculpted keys of the Bolds.
The QWERTY keyboard on the Curve 9360 looks a bit cheap and certainly lacks the soft precision and tactility of the Bold 9900's keyboard. But it does the job. The tactility and keypress are decent. There is sufficient spacing between the different rows and columns.
With a four-row keypad the numbers had to be accommodated over some of the letters - the numpad is on the left. You will also have to use a two-key combo for all the punctuation. Wherever the context allows it, the switch between numbers and letters is automatic.
Many of the keys (not just the numbers) can be assigned speed dial. There is a dedicated currency symbol key - its other job is to switch between the loudspeaker and the earpiece (in the music player too). In the music player you can skip tracks back and forth by pressing P or N (previous/next). There're the usual command shortcuts too: * locks the keypad and screen, while # toggles Silent mode on/off.
The optical trackpad sits between the display and the keyboard of the BlackBerry Curve 9360. The typical Menu and Back keys and the two call buttons are placed around it. They're not actual buttons, rather a single piece of screen bezel that can be pressed at different points. It's a neat layout but the downside is the controls are quite hard to press, much in contrast to the soft and responsive trackpad.
Above the display we find the earpiece and the status LED.
The left side of the Curve 9360 features the microUSB port for charging and sync.
On the right are the thin rubbery convenience key and volume rocker. By default the convenience key is set to launch the camera and serve as a shutter key. Portrait is the default orientation for taking pictures with the BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900, and a shutter key placed low on the side makes little sense. It's a fixed focus camera too, so the trackpad will do.
A small dedicated pause/mute button is placed between the volume Up and Down keys. In the music player, you skip tracks by a long press of the volume keys.
The top hosts the Lock key and the 3.5mm audio jack.
There's hardly anything interesting at the bottom, the microphone pinhole being the only notable presence there.
The back of the BlackBerry Curve 9360 features the 5 megapixel camera lens accompanied by the single LED flash. The lens is well recessed so you cannot scratch it unless you try really hard.
The loudspeaker grill is at the far bottom.
Removing the battery cover reveals the hot-swappable microSD card slot and the 1000 mAh Li-Ion battery. The back cover of the Curve 9360 is a rather thin piece of plastic. It comes off easily if you manage to place a fingernail in a tiny, tiny dent at the side of the phone. The battery underneath would easily give us up to two days of medium to heavy use, constantly connected to 3G and - most of the time - our WLAN network. This is about as much as we had with Bold 9900, which has a bigger 1230 mAh battery, but also a higher-res VGA screen and a more powerful processor. .
The Curve 9360 is a nice phone to look at and handle. When it's not covered in smudges, that is. Not only is it an aesthetic thing, finger grease makes the glossy rear dangerously slippery. Other than that though, the phone is a looker. One that even the Bold series wouldn't be ashamed to call their own. It has a solid build despite the all-plastic construction and very good ergonomics. The stiff controls around the trackpad are among the few things to warn against. The screen is a great improvement over the previous Curve generations, the keyboard is solid. The phone is impressively slim and business-like. Maybe a couple of extra paintjobs would be a nice thing to show to young texters, who are typically a Curve target.
Now join us on the next page as we check out the software package of the Curve 9360.