HOME / PRINT
BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300: 8520 with Some Extra Toppings
The BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 is an upgrade to the popular BlackBerry Curve 8520. In a line, what's new is a few minor aesthetic touches, a faster processor, double the RAM which makes the device OS 6 capable, support for Wi-Fi 802.11n and of course the big extras--GPS and 3G.
Chrome is in and the 9300 flaunts it too and as a result the 9300 looks far better than the staid 8520. Another welcome change is the ribbed back that ensures better grip on q smartphone. The sad part is that the resolution specs are the same as on the 8520--320x240.
No Dimension changes really
The keyboard is the same unit that the 8520 sports and in true BlackBerry style is great to use. Media keys continue on the top, making it easier to access media, and besides the 3.5mm earphone socket on the side, other keys on the sides include volume/zoom keys, and customisable shortcut keys. There's a microUSB slot for the charger and PC connectivity. The hot swap slot for the microSD card is under the rear panel. Nothing the 8520 doesn't have. The sales unit contains a 2GB microSD card though we didn't see an earphone unit.
Features and Performance
Sadly, though RIM has said the 9300 will feature the much talked about OS 6 and delivered on that promise in 2010, the unit we got came with the old OS 5. In fact, the first official version of OS 6 was available from Singapore's StarHub way back in December 2010! It's shocking that over four months later RIM India still doesn't ship the 9300 with OS 6 though many other global operators have released official versions of OS 6 for the 9300.
Still a comfy trackpad and QWERTY keypad
If you wonder why that's important, do look here [http://us.blackberry.com/apps-software/blackberry6/] for what's new on OS 6. In a nutshell, I'll say you'll be stuck for a while with a lousy browser on OS 5, a creaky interface, and you'll also be missing cool features like Universal Search and a superior multimedia experience.
The heart of the 9300 is a Marvell PXA930 processor running at 624 MHz, up from the 512 MHz one powering the 8520. The 9300 has the same processor that powers the Bold 9780 and even the ancient Bold 9000, released way back in 2008. But I think you shouldn't pay too much attention to that fact--while other smartphone makers have long breached the 1 GHz barrier, BlackBerry devices are no slouches when it comes to operating speed--which is clear proof that comparing CPU clock rates is the wrong thing to be doing when buying a smartphone.
There's really nothing to write home about in the media department. As with the 8520 audio quality is good and in true BlackBerry fashion the 9300 also supports most standard video formats so you can watch videos without going through the bother of conversion. And no, there's no FM radio yet.
Are the extra fetaures really worth so much of extra money?
This is where this baby rocks. With 3G and built-in GPS, in addition to Wi-Fi 802.11 n support, the 9300 is far ahead of the 8520 in this department--the 8520 was missing 3G and GPS and only supported Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g.
But a word on 3G. It's not exactly cheap in India, thanks to the humungous amounts of moolah the operators have shelled out for 3G spectrum, which they will now recover from you. Secondly, if you're on a cheaper BlackBerry plan that offers just e-mail and BlackBerry Messenger with perhaps Facebook access, 3G won't make too much of a difference to you.
The 9300 features the same 2 megapixel camera that the 8520 boasts about. Features are quite standard and nothing to write home about. Images come out quite decent, as on the 8520.
No real improvment over the 8520
The battery is the same 1150 mAh unit featured on the 8520, which wouldn't last a full day for a road warrior on BES with a lot of phone calls. But then, do remember that the 8520 and the 9300 are at the lowest to mid-range when it comes to BlackBerry, and if you want top of the line battery performance, you'd need to almost shell out double the money for a Bold 9780. That said, despite a faster processor, this unit met my expectations--around a full day of use. But if you're a road warrior, do invest in a car charger.
With the 8520 now retailing for Rs 9,990, the 9300 retails for Rs 14,700. That's a difference of close to Rs 5,000. Would I pay Rs 5,000 more for GPS and 3G and the promise of OS 6? I guess I would if it actually came with OS 6. But without that, the 8520 still seems like an awesome deal that's only grown sweeter with time since it features most of what the 9300 comes with.