Monday, September 1, 2008

My review on the Blackberry Curve 8330

Well here is it guys, I promised you a review on this phone, although I wished I could have got it out earlier this week but I was busy with other things.  My apologies for the delay.

The Blackberry Curve 8330 is the 4th model of the Curve series.   Like other Blackberries, this phone has the basic features you'd expect any Blackberry to have:

  • Phone capabilities (duh)

  • Wireless E-mail

  • Camera

  • Organizer

  • Text Messaging

  • Mobile Internet

This particular Blackberry Curve 8330 has the most features available for the Curve series.  This model has everything listed above and more including GPS as well as video recording unlike the other Curve phones.

Placing Calls/Receiving Calls & Quality

[caption id="attachment_577" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="The screen you'd see as a call is in process"]The screen you'd see while a call was in progress.[/caption]

Surprisingly, there are a few cell phones despite being called a "phone" that actually suck at being a phone, yet they have other features which are FAR better then the "phone".  There could be a number of things that attribute to this; a crappy earpiece speaker, making it hard for you to hear or understand the call; or a crappy mic, making it hard for the caller to understand you.  OR... The antenna within the phone which could be core problem with the call quality in general.

The phone quality for the Blackberry 8330 is very good.  People are very easy to understand and the people whom I've made calls to claim they can hear me clearly on their end as well.  The phone includes a speakerphone, which I've also used on numerous calls and it would seem that if the volume is turned all the way up, the output becomes so loud it'll actually distort what people are saying.  My recommendation if you use the speakerphone is to leave the volume setting to halfway and you should be able to understand what the caller is saying.

One neat feature I've noticed with this phone is the microphone seems to change when you toggle the call between the earpiece and speakerphone.  When the call is on speakerphone, the mic sensitivity increases itself to compensate so that anybody within 4½ feet from the phone will be picked up and the caller can easily hear the conversation on your end.

The built in antenna seems to be as good as any typical cell phone.  The signal quality inside the house where I am is usually 3 out of 5 bars.  My prior phone, the Motorola IC902 gave off the same signal strength, so judging between both phones I would say that the antenna is as good as any other phone.

[caption id="attachment_574" align="alignright" width="225" caption="An incoming call on the Blackberry. You can also see a picture that appears to the left of the caller information."]An incoming call on the Blackberry.  You can also see a picture that appears to the left of the caller information.[/caption]

When you make a call, you can clearly see the numbers (appearing in a large font) displayed on the screen as you're dialing the number.  You'll see additional information on the screen as well when you're in a phone call. (refer to the picture on the right) When you receive a call, you can easily see caller ID details (name & number) as well as a picture displayed to the left (if one is set) on the screen.

The Blackberry Curve 8330 also have Bluetooth capabilities and when used in conjunction with my Jawbone, the call quality when using the earpiece is very good.  Read my Bluetooth Jawbone Earpiece Review.

The Blackberry of course like any other cell phone has a call log showing a list of calls placed/received as well as a timestamp.  Clicking on any of the entries in the list will pull up additional options allowing you to call them back, e-mail, text message, etc..

Additional Features: E-mails, Instant Messaging, & Applications

This review is rather long and I'd rather not have this review stretch my home page 2 miles down, so if you like to read the full review on what else the Blackberry phone has to offer click "continue reading" below.

The primary reason why I decided to go with a Blackberry was because of its true QWERTY keyboard.  The prior phone I had, the IC902 also included a data plan which I took total advantage of.  The main drawback for me was the lack of a QWERTY keyboard.  Sending out text messages using the numpad was a utter and total nightmare.   Now that I have a Blackberry, it's cake being able to communicate with my friends without having to put forth the extra effort.

[caption id="attachment_575" align="alignright" width="225" caption="A preview of the AIM Buddylist on the Blackberry"]A preview of the AIM Buddylist on the Blackberry[/caption]

Instant Messaging

This phone has all the popular Instant Messaging programs including AIM, MSN/Live, Yahoo, and even Google Talk!  The phone also has its own instant messaging program which is run internally through the Blackberry network.  You can add other Blackberry buddies to the program by asking them for their Blackberry pin.

AOL Instant Messenger (AIM)

If you've used AIM in the past, then you should be pretty familiar with the Blackberry version.  Pretty straight forward, simply login to your AIM screenname and you should see your buddylist appear within seconds.  Starting a conversation is simple, just select your buddy that's online hit down on the trackball, and start typing!  Sending/receiving messages are slightly delayed due to the information having to travel across the phone network, but it's nothing that's going to slow down the conversation.

[caption id="attachment_579" align="alignright" width="225" caption="A conversation using AIM for the Blackberry"]A conversation using AIM for the Blackberry[/caption]

MSN (Windows Live Messenger)

Pretty much the same idea like AIM.  Just log in using your Hotmail/MSN/Live e-mail and you should see your buddies appear in a list.  Click on the name of your online buddy and start a conversation.

Yahoo/Google Talk

You get the idea... Not going to repeat myself

Blackberry Instant Messenger

I really can't give you much information about this particular instant messenger as I don't yet have anybody else to communicate with that owns a Blackberry.

E-mails and E-mailing in general

Being able to have access e-mails anywhere you go was the original idea of the Blackberry.  This is what made them so popular in the business industry and why they are still around today.  There are two options available in how you receive your e-mails.  For businesses you'd want to have the BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server) service for your blackberry, which allows you to access your companies Exchange server.  For individual users, you'd be using the BIS (Blackberry Internet Service) where your e-mails are pushed to your blackberry device in realtime allowing you to quickly respond to e-mails once you get them.

[caption id="attachment_580" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="A preview of what a plain text e-mail message looks like on the Blackberry."]A preview of what a plain text email message looks like on the Blackberry.[/caption]

There is a messages area on your phone which will consolidate all messages sent/received from your Instant Messagers, e-mail, and other applications and list them with a timestamp with the recent messages appearing on top to oldest
being on the bottom.  The message list is also breaks them up by day so that you can easily distinguish them from day to day.

Setting up your Blackberry to receive your personal e-mails is cake!  Depending on who your phone carrier is (for me it's Sprint) you simply log in to your Blackberry Account and add your e-mail address to the account.  Depending on what type of e-mail you have, (POP3, IMAP, or HTTP) you may have additional information you need to use.  I have two e-mail addresses I use with my Blackberry, the blackberry e-mail address, and Gmail.

[caption id="attachment_581" align="alignright" width="225" caption="A preview of what HTML e-mail looks like on the Blackberry."]A preview of what HTML e-mail looks like on the Blackberry.[/caption]

Included E-mail software

Depending on what version of the Blackberry firmware you're using, your e-mails could either appear as plain text, or in HTML.  The firmware I'm using with my phone: (v4.3.0.127) doesn't have HTML viewable e-mail, so it renders everything as plain text.  But there are workarounds to that.  You can get third party applications for the phone which will render your e-mail as HTML.  The e-mail also allows you to send out attachments.  So essentially you could take pictures of something and e-mail the pictures directly to your friends!

Upon further research, I found out there is a newer version of firmware that I can upgrade my Blackberry to for free which includes the software render your e-mail as HTML.  However, I'm holding back as some people are claiming some features that no longer work for them. (keep reading to find out)

Browsing the Internet

[caption id="attachment_585" align="alignright" width="225" caption="A preview of using the Blackberry Internet Browser"]A preview of using the Blackberry Internet Browser[/caption]

Blackberry Internet Browser

The included Blackberry Internet Browser isn't all that fantastic.  In fact, I'd have to say it's one of the crappier browsers I've come across.  For starters, (this issue can be a number of things) loading pages doesn't seem all that fast. Things that can play a part in this are:

  • The number of images on the webpage

  • Any scripts (JavaScript) that might have errors in it

  • Complexity of the sites CSS [Cascading Style Sheet] (websites rely on the browser to do all the rendering of the pages rather then letting their servers handle it)

  • The number of applications your Blackberry is running in the background

The browser also doesn't render pages as they truly look online.  This is due to the small screen the Blackberry has.  Well, I shouldn't say the screen is small, it's actually a decent sized screen for a mobile phone.  The issue here is 99% of the websites out there weren't designed to be displayed through a phone.

[caption id="attachment_584" align="alignright" width="225" caption="A preview of using the Opera Mini browser.  Website is zoomed out to show the true layout of the page."]A preview of using the Opera Mini browser[/caption]

Opera Mini

Fear not, there is a 3rd party browser that works better (in my opinion) then the Blackerry's.  Opera Mini can be downloaded OTA (Over The Air) on your Blackberry by going to  The cool thing about Opera Mini is it will attempt to render the webpages you browse in their actual form.  If you've ever browsed the internet using an iPhone or an iPod Touch, you'll see that the Safari browser will zoom out to fit the entire webpage on your screen, then allow you to zoom in on areas of the site to see the content as it should be.  The same idea applies for Opera Mini however there is only one minor difference, it renders the text so that it fits it to the width of your screen.  In other words, it prevents you from having to scroll horizontally to read whatever it is you're reading, only vertical scrolling is involved.  Check out Opera's online demo of how pages would look on your mobile device.

I find that websites load 10x faster on Opera Mini vs the Blackberry Internet Browser.  I think it's due to the fact that the Opera servers are doing the majority of the work for you, like rendering the CSS and optimizing the images so they load faster on your device, etc...

Using the GPS

Depending on which phone carrier you have, you either pay extra for the GPS, or you have it comes included in your plan.  My friend Marc was considering switching to a Blackberry, but there are alot of limitations that Verizon has placed on their version of the Blackberries like locking out the GPS so that it only can run with their proprietary software.

If you're a Sprint user, (like me) there are no restrictions when it comes to using the GPS.  The only downside when it comes to the GPS is none of the software that I've come across provides you audible turn by turn directions.   Here are a number applications that can be used with the GPS:

[caption id="attachment_587" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Previewing Mobile Google Maps on the Blackberry. Street names are blurred out for privacy"]Previewing Mobile Google Maps on the Blackberry. Street names are blurred out for privacy[/caption]

Mobile Google Maps

I find that Mobile Google Maps works best for me.  What I find amazing about it is how quickly it can lock onto my location.  I have a Garmin Nüvi 660 that takes at least 1-2 minutes before it can acquire a satellite connection and triangulate my location.

The minute Mobile Google Maps is loaded I simply hit "0" to center onto my location, and I'm ready to roll.  Just pop in my destination and Mobile Google Maps will mark out the route for you.  Pretty straightforward.

Another cool thing about Mobile Google Maps is it can provide you realtime traffic.  It'll outline the major roads and color them by the density of traffic.  Green meaning the flow of traffic is good, Yellow meaning there are slowdowns, Red meaning that the traffic is stop and go.

Mobile GMaps

I used to use this program religiously on my old IC902 phone, and it worked without any problems.  The Blackberry version seemed problematic for me.  For starters it wouldn't easily let me switch between applications while it was active.  Secondly the program doesn't hook into the GPS as well as Google or Blackberry Maps, it seems to lock on your location for second, but then it'll stay at that same location as you move around and it'll never update.

I'm really bummed about this because this was the only program where you could publically display your location in realtime with a friend or whatever so they can find out where you are or where you're going.  Of course this option requires additional information to setup and is disabled by default, so don't worry about your privacy being exposed.

[caption id="attachment_588" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Showing off Blackberry
Maps"]Displaying Blackberry Maps[/caption]

Blackberry Maps

Blackberry Maps is the GPS software that comes preloaded on your Blackberry.  The program itself works really well and like Mobile Google Maps, it can lock on your location in a matter of seconds. Your location will appear as a big bright red spot on the map, and an arrow will draw out indicating the direction you're going.

The one thing I don't like about this software are how UGLY the maps are.  Everything is in a dark maroon color and it looks awful.  If you're near a lake or a park, that area will show up in blue, the parks in green.  Major roads appear in yellow, and the side streets will appear gray.

One feature that this program has that Mobile Google Maps doesn't is it can rotate the map so that whatever direction you go, will appear ahead of you.  (A common feature found in todays GPSes)  It can also provide you an estimate in MPH speed as you're moving.

I find this program best utilizes the scrolling wheel/ball.  When you click down on the ball, you can toggle the zoom feature to easily zoom in and out, clicking the ball down again will toggle the pan where you can look around at that particular zoom level and see the map in better detail.

Sprint Navigator

I haven't actually used this program yet because I thought I saw somewhere in the agreement (before downloading the application to the Blackberry, there were additional charges for using the program.  So I'm not going to deal with that when I can use the other applications for free.

Music, Media & Entertainment

Depending on who your phone provider is, you should see some variation of software included on your phone for playing music, and movies.  Since I'm a Sprint subscriber, I'm reviewing Sprint TV.

Sprint TV

[caption id="attachment_593" align="alignright" width="225" caption="Showing off Sprint TV. Note: This is 'The Weather Channel' providing news about the current Hurricane Gustav flooding New Orleans.... Again"]Showing off Sprint TV.  Note: This is The Weather Channel providing news about the current Hurricane Gustav flooding New Orleans.... Again[/caption]

Sprint comes with Sprint TV, where you can watch TV channels like:

  • The Disney Channel

  • CNN

  • Fox Sports

  • E ! Channel

  • The Weather Channel

  • FOX Mobile

  • ABC Mobile

  • ABC News

  • MTV

  • Comedy Central

  • Nickelodeon

  • Cartoon Network Mobile

There is a "premium subscription" that you can order where you can watch full seasons of Anime, and other Content.  Sprint doesn't really have much to say about Sprint TV on the web, except that they offer it, so if you'd like more information, I'd suggest you contact them directly and ask them about it.

I haven't divulged too much into the TV because I'm not really big on mobile TV.  The technology is still pretty new, and there are alot of things that need to be worked on.  Don't get me wrong, the content is watchable, but I've noticed things where sometimes the audio will fall out of sync with the video and I cannot stand watching things like that as it trips me out.  Also depending on how well the coverage is in your particular area, sometimes the video will pixelate distorting the picture and I find that to happen to me alot.  This is a result of the picture being heavily compressed to consume less bandwidth on the Sprint network.  I think Sprint needs to loosen up a bit on the compression as it's really affecting the overall experience watching TV on the phone.

Media Player

The Blackberry comes with a media player which is used to display movies music, and pictures.  The media player as a normal application is fairly simple and easy to use, it has your basic features, play, stop, pause, and volume control for the media.  You can download music directly from your computer when you hook up the Blackberry to the computer, and load the MP3s directly to the microSD card (located behind the battery) and play them on your phone.  You can also visit popular streaming music websites like Seeqpod and stream music that way or even download it! [assuming you can figure out how =) ]

Recording Videos (Camcorder)

Yes believe it or not, this phone does a pretty decent job recording videos.  The microphone will go into that mode (like when you're on a call using the speakerphone) and pick up everything around it.  There are options when you capture video:

  • Normal (240x176)

  • MMS Mode (76x144)

Captured videos are saved in the file format 3GP, a simplified version of the MPEG-4 (MP4) container format, designed to decrease storage and bandwidth requirements in order to accommodate mobile phones. (1) These videos can be transferred to your computer and viewed with such media players like QuickTime, Media Player Classic, or VLC Player.  All captured videos are saved automatically to the microSD card. (located behind the battery in the back)

[caption id="attachment_590" align="alignright" width="300" caption="A picture taken of using the actual camera of the Blackberry Phone. Click on the picture to see the actual size. Large: (1600x1200)"]A picture taken of using the actual camera of the Blackberry Phone.  Click on the picture to see the actual size. Large: (1600x1200)[/caption]

Taking Pictures (Camera)

The Blackberry Curve 8330 phone comes with a 2MP (megapixel) camera.  You can choose up to three sizes when taking pictures:

  • Large (1600x1200)

  • Medium (1024x768)

  • Small (640x480)

I find the camera lens to have this weird gray color overlay on all pictures taken.  I'm not sure what the issue is, but it's not that big a deal.  You can definitely tell what the pictures are that are taken.   You may not even notice it yourself, but I have eye for these things.

One cool thing about taking pictures is you can instantly e-mail them to your friends, or send them as attachments via Instant Messenger, or even directly upload them to your FaceBook profile! (assuming you have the Facebook application installed)  Very cool of you to add that Blackberry!

My overall experience using the Blackberry so far has been enjoyable.   I'm very happy with this phone and I would highly recommend it as the next phone for you to get if you're one whom does alot of text or instant messaging.  I love the QWERTY keyboard, makes sending messages to my friends very convenient.  I give this phone 5 of 5 stars.

I feel this review has more then enough information about the phone.   However, there is more more that can be said about this phone, like the Blackberry Desktop Manager.  If you'd like to learn more about what the Blackberries can do I'd suggest you visit the following links listed below:


  1. 3GP information via Wikipedia