I have been using a Sprint BlackBerry Curve 9350 on and off for the last month or so and I have to say I really am drawn to the device. It feels like RIM finally came up with a BlackBerry Curve model that didn’t have a sacrifices like a low resolution screen or no flash. They also upped the quality of the device to the point where it feels sleek. Read on to see what I mean.
On the BlackBerry Curve 9350 RIM decided to not force users to make too many compromises and actually offers benefits that even the Bold line does not have. The first thing you notice when you pick up a BlackBerry Curve 9350 (or Curve 9360 and Curve 9370 for that matter) is that the device is super thin and light. It also has a very “Curvy” design that fits beautifully in your hand. The volume control and mute buttons on the right side are perfectly placed and easy to press and the lock button on top has just the right amount of give. The keyboard is still a plastic-y Curve style keyboard but the build quality seems even better than the previous generation 9300 models. The only real complaint I have is that the call, menu, back, and end call buttons require more effort than I would like to push in.
I have to admit that I am a bit of a klutz and actually dropped this Sprint 9350 at least 4 times since I started using it and there is not even a scratch on it and no pealed off chrome like previous models. The only thing that ever happened is that the case needed to be squeezed back together once since some snap had let loose. The front of the device looks really slick and has the same sequential light on and off system as the rest of the BlackBerry 7 line. The gripes I had with the design was that they only put one convenience key on the new Curve and they flipped the MicroUSB port to face backwards from what you are used to.
One of the compromises RIM did make with the new Curve line is that the battery capacity is smaller than previous generations. (About 10% or so) I thought this was a problem since the new 800Mhz processor would eat through the battery faster but I have not noticed any real world differences. I still get through a whole day just fine.
The screen on the BlackBerry Curve 9350 is a real beauty. They finally raised the resolution from the previous 320×240 resolution on previous Curve devices to a much nicer 480×360. This is not as high as the 640×480 on the BlackBerry Bold 9900 but for the smaller screen size it looks bright and vivid. I have to say that is my favorite part of the 9350. It sort of reminds me of my old BlackBerry Curve 8300 but way improved. Its not the sharp steel lines of the 9900 but rather a sleek light plastic package with all the bells and whistles like NFC, Flash, nice Camera, etc.
The reason I delayed this review was because the first Sprint 9350 I received had some issues with random reboots that I wanted to check out before recommending the device. Sprint kindly sent me a replacement since it seems like the original phone I received was defective. I tested the new 9350 with both the stock OS and afterwards loaded a later unofficial OS from another carrier on the new device. The stock OS still had one random reboot but once I moved to the later unofficial OS the random reboots totally stopped and I am really liking the BlackBerry Curve 9350. I think that the BlackBerry Curve 9350 is the perfect classic BlackBerry experience. It gets the job done and sort of reminds me of a BlackBerry Bold 9700 that is lighter, faster, and thinner. A simple way to think of the device is as a improved BlackBerry Bold 9700 with a curve keyboard.
To wrap this all up I have to say that the amazing part about the BlackBerry Curve 9350 is that in some ways I prefer it over my BlackBerry Bold 9900 that is just sitting in a drawer for now. The lack of a touchscreen means less accidental button presses though I do miss it for web browsing. I have to say I am impressed with what RIM did with the Curve and hope Sprint will release a new OS 7.1 for the device shortly to enable even more of its features.
If you have a BlackBerry Curve 9350/9360/9370 yourself let us know what you think of it in the comments!