Review: BlackBerry Curve 9370 for Verizon
Wow, the Curve 9370 is small. Aside from the svelte Pearl of yesteryear, I can't think of a smaller smartphone from Research In Motion. The design language is not all that different from its close cousins, such as the 9350. It's a mono-block QWERTY device and borrows heavily from Research In Motion's legacy devices. The review unit I tested had a black front and back, with a dark grey surface outlining the device along the outer edges. It has an elegant look, though any BlackBerry user will know it is not one of the company's higher-end devices.
The 9370 is thin, light weight, and comfortable in the palm of you hand. I was easily able to grasp the device in my hand and wrap my fingers all the way around. It doesn't feel as dense as the Bold models, and the quality of the materials isn't as good, either. It manages to avoid feeling cheap. It will easily fit into any pocket.
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The layout of the controls will be familiar to any BlackBerry owner. The display measures just 2.4 inches and makes up about 50% of the 9370's front surface. The navigation controls are below the screen. Unlike the Bold series devices, the Curve 9370 does not have a touch screen.
The 9370 uses the standard BlackBerry controls: Send key, BlackBerry key, trackpad, Back Key and End/Power key all placed in a row, The optical trackpad is quite good. It has a pleasant shape and since it stands up just a bit from the surface of the 9370, it's easy to find. It's a bit on the small side, however. My fatter thumbs needed time to adjust, but RIM offers sensitivity settings so users can adjust the trackpad's response to their liking.
The other controls are not separate buttons, but are instead flush with the surface. There are no physical clues to let you know which one you are touching. You simply have to adjust to their placement until your muscle memory develops. The action of all four buttons is quite stiff. You really have to press each button hard to get it to react. While this delivers a satisfying "click" it also leads to fatigued thumbs.
The Curve series' keyboards are wholly different from those that appear on RIM's Bold and Torch devices. Where the Bold and Torch keyboards are finely crafted masterpieces, the Curve's comes off feeling a bit low-end. The keys are relatively flat and don't have much character to them and the entire keyboard is very compact. It took my thumbs a while to adjust to the small size of the keyboard, though I imagine it will be very friendly to the smaller fingertips of teens or female users. The action is a tad on the stiff side, but I rather like that in this keyboard. The travel and feedback are satisfying.
Controls along the edges of the 9370 are kept to a minimum. The volume toggle, voice command key, and user-assignable action key are all on the right side of the 9370. I don't like the feel of them at all. They are thin humps that just out from the side of the phone and just don't have a pleasing sensation under the thumb. However, they are easy to find and use, and the travel of the keys is quite good.
On top, the 9370 offers a 3.5mm headset jack and a screen/keyboard lock button. As with most BlackBerries released by RIM in the last few years, this button is entirely flat and built into the top surface. Action and feedback of this button are terrible.
The microUSB port is on the left side of the phone. The memory card slot is under the battery cover. The battery does not need to be pulled in order to swap the card.
In all, the Curve 9370 offers nothing new in terms of hardware functionality, and works well for the most part.
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