Designed for the budget-conscious world traveler, the BlackBerry Curve 9370 for Verizon Wireless is a slim and sleek phone with a full QWERTY keyboard. Capable of working in up to 200 countries, this device features the latest BlackBerry 7 operating system and lasts all day on a charge. At $99.99, it's a bargain compared to the Bold 9930, too. But is that enough to get smartphone shoppers on board?
At 4.3 x 2.4 x 0.4 inches, the 3.5-ounce Curve 9370 is one of the lightest and most compact smartphones on the market. It's slightly lighter and thinner than the 3.7-ounce BlackBerry Curve 3G 9330 and its 4.3 x 2.4 x 0.5-inch frame, as well as the 4.6 ounce, 4.5 x 2.6 x 0.4-inch BlackBerry Bold 9930.
BlackBerry continues to be synonymous with an industrial design that's as beautiful as it is functional. While not as luxe as BlackBerry's Bold line, the Curve 9370 doesn't feel cheap, either. Its glossy 2.4-inch display sits in a shiny black bezel below a prominent BlackBerry logo. The bezel curves gracefully toward the top and bottom of the headset. Dedicated buttons for Phone, Menu, Back and Home sit beneath the display, bracketing a chrome-wrapped trackpad button.
A headphone jack resides at the top of the phone next to a lock button, while a microUSB jack sits along the left side.
Display and Audio
At 466 lux, the Curve handily beat out the 306 lux smartphone average. While text was relatively sharp, we found ourselves straining to read the diminutive text. The "Red Tails" HD trailer on YouTube delivered big explosions with vivid hues of crimson and orange with large plumes of black smoke that popped against the blue sky. However, the trailer was plagued by pervasive graininess, which diminished the viewing experience.
You won't get the loudest audio from the Curve 9370's rear speaker, but you will get crisp, clear sound. When we listened to Anita Baker's "Sweet Love" on Slacker Radio, we could easily distinguish between the piano, strings, bass and percussion in the track as well as Baker's silky alto vocals. There was, however, a bit of tininess at full volume, which led to distortion.
Software and Interface
Below, apps can be sorted by several categories, including Frequent, Media, and Favorites. We were able to configure how many apps were shown on the home screen (between 1-3 rows) by clicking on the title bar.
Other notable BlackBerry 7 OS features include an HTML-5 powered Web browser (but no Flash support) and voice search capability in Universal Search. The OS can also utilize augmented reality applications and NFC, which allows the Curve 9370 to interact with other NFC-enabled devices.
Thanks to Liquid Graphics technology, which delivers smoother rendering and fluid animations, scrolling through apps and home screens using the trackpad was very fluid and responsive, with little to no latency.
Email, Messaging and BBM
In addition, the three onboard instant messaging clients (Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger and Google Talk) gave us plenty of ways to keep in contact with all our friends and family. BlackBerry's Social Feeds app aggregated all that chatter into a manageable feed, allowing us to answer at will.
BlackBerry Messenger, the preferred means of communication for BlackBerry users, is also included. BBM allows users to chat and create groups as well as share photos and images. There are a number of apps that boast deep BBM integration, too. Foursquare enables users to post check-ins and badges to BMM and chat with both Foursquare and BBM users. We used ScoreMobile for BlackBerry to chat with fellow Giants fans. We could also find other BBM users near us using Wikitude and its augmented reality.
Specs and Performance
The 800-MHz processor in the Curve 9370 delivered a moderately fast experience. Opening and switching between apps took about a second. The camera opened in approximately two seconds. However, it also took two seconds to snap a picture and another second before the camera was ready to take the next shot. However, we were able to play a few rounds of "BrickBreaker" while simultaneously streaming from Slacker Radio with three open Web pages.
The Curve 9370 comes with a prepackaged 2GB microSD card but can be expanded to a 32GB card.
Web Browsing and 3G
After the page zoomed in, we saw about a second of extreme graininess or annoying blocks of checkerboard as the page adjusted to the size change. We also encountered the checkerboard effect as we scrolled down the page or panned left to right. However, we liked being able to view and open multiple tabs using the tab icon in the top right corner.
Unfortunately, loading Web pages was rather sluggish over Verizon's 3G network. The mobile versions of ESPN.com, NYTimes.com and CNN.com took 14.4, 11.4, and 8.4 seconds to load, respectively. The desktop version of Laptopmag.com took 42.3 seconds. By comparison, mobile devices on Verizon's 4G LTE network are able to load mobile sites in an average of 4 seconds and full desktop sites within 15 seconds.
Downloading apps was also a trial of patience. Foursquare, a relatively small file at 1.2MB, took about a minute to load.
The BlackBerry App store remains fairly anemic at just over 43,000 apps, compared to the Android Market and Apple's App store, which might explain the Curve 9370's relatively light suite of preloaded apps.
BlackBerry-branded apps include Backup Assistant, Password Keeper, Social Feeds and BlackBerry Protect, which allows users to locate their device as well as remotely wipe or lock it. Verizon also bundles the Curve 9370 with a number of its own apps, such as VZ Navigator, VCast Videos, VCast Song ID and Vzw Tones.
Third-party apps include Documents To Go, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Bing Slacker Radio.
Camera and Camcorder
Our 480p video of New York City Traffic delivered bold colors with fairly sharp detail. We were able to read the text on the side of a taxi as well as on the awning across the street. Still, we noticed the camera had trouble focusing when we panned up to the sky.
The BlackBerry Curve 9370 lacks a front-facing camera, so video chatting is out of the question.
Call Quality and Battery Life
Calls made on Verizon Wireless' network were loud with crisp, clear audio. Whether our callers were on cellphones or landlines, they reported high-quality audio with little to no background noise. There was a second of delay when connecting to landlines, however. The speakerphone delivered loud audio on our end, though some of our callers reported a slight echo.
BlackBerry claims that the Curve 9370's 1000 mAh Standard Lithium battery can last for 5.5 hours of talk time. During our testing, which included social networking, light Web surfing and streaming audio, the Curve 9370 had approximately 25 percent battery life after 11 hours. That's a lot longer than most Android phones currently on the market.
VerdictBold 9930 ($199 on Verizon, $59 on Amazon), which adds a sharper touch screen and HD video recording.
For $50 less than the Curve 9370, the Droid 3 has a larger 4-inch qHD display, a great keyboard, and the robust Android Market. And for the same $99 price as this Curve, you can pick up the Samsung Stratosphere, which sports a full keyboard and faster 4G LTE data. We suppose the BlackBerry Curve 9370 is a decent choice for the BlackBerry faithful, but handsets like this help explain why that group is shrinking.
|Form Factor||Candy Bar|
|Operating System||BlackBerry 7|
|Networks||Dual-band: 800 / 1900 MHz CDMA/EVDO Rev 0/A networks, Quad-Band EDGE: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz|
|CPU||800 MHz processor|
|Memory Expansion Type||microSD Card|
|Display (main)||2.4 inches/640 x 480|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 2.1 EDR|
|Front Camera Resolution|
|Camera Resolution||5 MP|
|Audio formats supported||MP3|
|Audio formats supported||MIDI|
|Audio formats supported||WMV|
|Audio formats supported||FLAC|
|Audio formats supported||WMA|
|Audio formats supported||AMR|
|Audio formats supported||WAV|
|Audio formats supported||AAC|
|Audio formats supported||QCP|
|Audio formats supported||OGG|
|Video formats supported||3G2|
|Video formats supported||MP4|
|Video formats supported||AVI|
|Video formats supported||ASF|
|Photo formats supported||PNG|
|Photo formats supported||JPEG|
|Photo formats supported||GIF|
|Photo formats supported||BMP|
|Photo formats supported||WBMP|
|Photo formats supported||TIFF|
|Talk / Standby Time||5.5 hours/14.5 days|
|Size||4.3 x 2.4 x 0.4 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|