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printed July 23, 2014
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Review: BlackBerry 9330 Curve 3G

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The 9930 Curve 3G is a compact and light-weight smartphone. Its diminutive size make it a great choice for carrying around town, on the road or anywhere else you might have to go. The rounded, comfortable edges and soft-touch surfaces make it one of the most hand-friendly devices I have encountered in recent months. It simply feels great to grip in your hand. Pockets? No problem, the Curve 3G is going to be your good little buddy.

The front of the Curve 3G has a smallish display and the typical full QWERTY keyboard. The keys are not nearly as awesome as the keys on the 9800 Torch or 9650 Bold. They are raised from the surface nicely, but have no shape to them. The keys are angled ever-so-slightly, but lack the scalloped shape that make the 9800 and 9650's keyboards so great. Despite the compact footprint of the Curve 3G, however, I had no trouble using the keyboard. The keys have very good travel and feedback.

I offer the same complaint that I did for the 9650 and 9800, however. In order to type a "period", users have to press the ALT key first. The "dollar" sign ($) has its own key. Really? Periods are pretty important, and RIM's double-tap-the-spacebar trick isn't very helpful when entering URLs because it adds a space after the period. The "$" key should be the "." key, period. I suppose I'd also like to see a dedicated "@" key, but perhaps that's asking too much.

The nav controls are above the keyboard. The send/end keys, BlackBerry key and Back key are all generously sized and are built flush into the surface of the Curve 3G. Since there are no physical indcators for your thumb, it can be a wee bit tricky to differentiate the Send key from the BlackBerry key, and the Return key from the End key.

The Curve 3G's optical track pad is the first RIM trackpad with which I am disappointed. The trackpad is lightning quick and very responsive. The fact that users can customize its sensitivity helps. I like it much better than the old trackball. However, it is very small (7.5mm square). It is noticeably smaller than the trackpad on the 9650, and I felt that hindered usability a bit.

The 3.5mm headset jack and microUSB port are both placed on the left side of the Curve 3G, as well as an application key. The key is covered by a soft-touch rubber protective layer, but it is easily found. Travel and feedback is good. There are three similar humps on the right side of the Curve 3G, which are the two volume buttons and a second application key. For whatever reason, the buttons on the right side felt stiff and had too much travel. You really have to push them hard to get them to "click."

The top of the Curve 3G, like its predecessor, has dedicated media keys built into the top edge of the phone. There is a play/pause key that automatically opens the media player when pressed, as well as keys for skipping forward and back. The play/pause key also silences the ringer with a quick press.

In order to get at the microSD slot, the battery cover (but not the battery) needs to be removed. The cover itself fits snugly.

Overall, there's little to complain about. The Curve 3G is an entry-level BlackBerry, but you'd really only notice that if you put it next to one of RIM's flagship smartphones.

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