As with all BlackBerry smartphones, media remains a delight. The 9220 didn’t play 1080p videos but 720p was not a problem and it played a wide range of formats, though marred by the poor resolution. And audio quality is sharp and quite excellent and I especially loved the deep bass on the 9220.
Media features are the same as any older BB device with the exception of the FM Rdaio of cousre
And yes, the big one—the Curve 9220 is the first BlackBerry to feature FM Radio. Now, I’m not a big-time FM fan thanks to the lack of stations offering international music in Mumbai. However, on local trains, the lifeline of Mumbai, I see every second person listening to FM radio on the commute home and I know this will be a welcome extra feature in India.
This is the depressing part, since the 9220 offers nothing new as compared to the ancient 8520. The most glaring omission is the lack of a 3G radio. When the 8520 was launched in 2009, 3G didn’t really exist in India (yes I know MTNL did offer 3G then, but that hardly matters), but today carriers even offer daily packs for prepaid customers and it can be quite affordable when used on a short-term basis. Incidentally, Vodafone offers an unlimited 3G data option to BlackBerry BES users at just Rs 299 extra per month in addition to the Rs 899 per month charged for BES. So, 3G is quite cost-effective in India today and RIM has taken a step backwards here by leaving out 3G.
Same old connectivity options and still no 3G
In more bad news, despite running OS 7.1, the 9220 did not feature the option for Mobile Hotspot that is present on other BlackBerry smartphones running OS 7.1. Granted that the mobile hotspot feature is best used if you’re on a 3G network, yet I wish it part of the feature set. The standard support for BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) and BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS), which makes setting up e-mail accounts a breeze, continues. Bluetooth has been upgraded to Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR. And Wi-Fi support now extends to b/g and n. But GPS is missing.
Nothing new here. Same fixed focus 2 MP camera as the old 8520. Pictures are grainy especially under artificial light. Passable for a 2 MP shooter, but one expected more in a smartphone which is supposedly an upgrade. Cheap Rs 3000 phones have better cameras than this one.
It's a quite grainy but not too bad for a 2MP camera
As I said before, this is my favourite part of the 9220. The 1450 mAh battery is the best one on any BlackBerry today. To put it in perspective, a top-end BlackBerry smartphone like the Bold 9900 packed with 3G radio, NFC, touchscreen and a high-res display only has a 1230 mAh battery. In real life this meant that on BES I got over a day of juice (compared to the around 5 hours I get on the 9900) and on BIS I got nearly 48 hours of use before the battery died. That’s outstanding performance indeed and if there’s one reason why I would spend a couple of thousands more on the Curve 9220 as opposed to the Curve 8520, it would the amazing battery life the 9220 offers.
In the Tech2.com Video Test, the 9220 clocked close to 7.5 hours of continuous video playback with the mobile network on and e-mails from 5 different accounts pouring in. In the loop test (2 hours of video, 2 hours of music, 2 hours of streaming and a 1.5-hour phone call), the 9220 almost completed one loop. To be fair, I conducted the loop test at work when the 9220 was on BIS on the Tata Docomo network. Unfortunately Tata Docomo is very spotty at my workplace and offers merely 1-2 bars of network strength, which means battery was being sucked up at a far higher rate than usual.
OS 7.1 also offers a Battery Saving Mode and you can set threshold levels. However, while this feature is a must-have on other BlackBerry smartphones running OS 7.1, it will remain unused on the Curve 9220.
The display resolution could have been a little higher
The 9220 is also missing the very cool BlackBerry Tag feature support, which makes possible transactions, data exchange, and connections with a mere touch, is missing.
At Rs. 10,990, frankly, the Curve 9220 doesn’t hold a candle to cheap Android devices that are now proliferating and which offer features like 3G, GPS and mobile hotspot at a lesser price. So, if you’re considering the 9220 for your first smartphone, only look here if all your friends have BBM and thus you have to go for a BlackBerry because of peer pressure. The other reason could be if you type a fair bit and touchscreen phones are the equivalent of smartphone hell for you. And also for BlackBerry USPs like e-mail.
If you’re thinking of an upgrade from the 8520, the 9220 doesn’t offer enough and the battery may the only key factor that might push you to upgrade—I’d suggest you wait for the 9320, which should release in May and will come with 3G support.
Overall, while I welcome the amazing battery and OS 7.1 with the boost in RAM and ROM, I wish RIM had more to offer on the 9220.
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