The BlackBerry Curve 8900 retail package is duly downgraded from what the Storm had to offer. The most notable omission is of course the 8GB memory card. The other thing left out is the cleaning cloth but that's fair - no huge touchscreen this time around.
The retail box still contains a microUSB cable and a DC charger with an appropriate adapter plug for both American and European voltage standards.
Like the Storm, the Curve comes with a leather carrying pouch and a one-piece handsfree. The software CD and some leaflets go without saying.
At 109 x 60 x 13.5 mm and 110 g of weight the BlackBerry Curve 8900 is certainly a charmingly compact and pleasant-to-handle QWERTY device. The solid and sophisticated looks give the BlackBerry 8900 a real headstart and show the remarkable evolution the Curve series underwent in terms of design.
It's a tough call between the latest Curve 8900 and Nokia E71 but we are quite certain we wouldn't mind having any of them in our pocket. As much as we like the Curve 8900 though, we have to admit it is all made of plastic. The metal used on E71 is a boost to both looks and durability. The price paid however is the significantly increased weight of 127 grams.
Well, maybe the choice between full-touch and full QWERTY is not so painful in the BlackBerry world. We're still standing after the touch-based Storm swept through, so let's see what the Curve has to offer.
First thing on our list is checking how the Curve 8900 fares in terms of hardware.
As a QWERTY device, the BlackBerry 8900 Curve doesn't have too many surprises in stock in terms of form factor and design. The landscape screen of standard 4:3 aspect ratio and the full hardware keyboard are pretty non-negotiable.
The navigation deck built around the trademark trackball is no news either. We have to admit though that the design is greatly improved over the previous generation Curves. The phone looks a lot sleeker and quite more expensive now, in contrast to the pretty boring Curve 83xx handsets.
On top of the stylish front we find the earpiece and the proud BlackBerry logo. The LED status indicator is on their right side. In fact, this part of the front is an exact replica of the Storm.
The 2.4" TFT display is just below the earpiece. The thing to note here is that QVGA is no longer the norm in the Curve series. The Blackberry 8900 display has a resolution of 480 x 360 pixels. This beats most market rivals, like the Nokia E71 in terms of pixel density. Furthermore the display seems to have even better sunlight legibility than the Nokia business messenger, retaining more vivid colors when exposed to direct sunlight.
The typical BlackBerry layout of controls includes the two call keys, along with a back and menu buttons beneath the screen. The centerpiece there is a comfortable track ball, which is stunningly sharp in black.
Finally we get to the full QWERTY keyboard. It uses a four-row layout, the numpad accommodated on the left. All keys are of the same size, except for the space bar, and are incredibly tactile. The spacing between them is enough and their shape is very comfortable to use - convex with sloping edges - though probably not as good looking as on Nokia E71. Keys give very solid press feedback.
The left side of the BlackBerry 8900 Curve hosts one of the convenience keys. By default it functionality is set to starting the voice dialing but you can change that according to whatever works better.
The other such key is on the right side of the handset, below the volume rocker and the 3.5 mm standard audio jack. On the right side also you can find the microUSB slot that is also used for charging.
The top of the BlackBerry 8900 Curve hides two keys - one for locking the phone and the other for muting it. At first sight you might miss those keys as the surface looks smooth and save for the two small icons there is no way you can tell there are keys underneath. Like we said, the top part of the handset repeats the Storm design.
The microphone pinhole is at the bottom, and it's the only element of interest there.