RIM Throws A Curve

3AE21776-4340-4E94-AE80-AE0ABDF7C0BC.jpgI’ve been setting up my new Blackberry Curve 8320 and it provides a striking contrast to the iPhone, both positive and negative.
The 8320 is a lot more complicated and harder to setup, but then it’s much more functional. It supports third-party applications but so far I’ve only felt a need for two, Bee Jive – a multi-client IM program, and Google maps, both recommended by Dan Hendricks.

It comes with a nice range of programs including a password vault, very capable voice dialing, it’s own mapping program designed for use with a third-party GPS unit, and a Breakout game. There’s an ok browser that’s not as good as Safari and a media player also not as good as the iPod but with limited storage you’re not going to be using this as a music player. Blackberry is a phone first, email and messaging device second, and media player/browser a distant third.

It doesn’t have a touch interface but the pearl trackball works nearly as well with Google Maps, and the physical keyboard is lightyears easier to use, and more accurate, than the on-screen keyboard. I do greatly miss the classic Blackberry thumbwheel. The pearl just feels cheesy and seems less practical even though it does give you a broader range of motion. The two-megapixel camera is not much better than the iPhone’s although it does seem to offer better white balance and optics. It’s too slow to use for anything but the occasional snapshot.

Sample Blackberry 8320 photo

Of most interest in the 8230 is Wi-Fi support. The phone comes out of the box with integrated VOiP (!) and will use the Wi-Fi for calls in lieu of the T-Mobile network when it’s available. This is exactly the kind of thing AT&T must most have dreaded on the iPhone, but T-Mobile encourages it. Talk about different world views.

The 8320 out-of-the-box experience is nothing near as slick as the iPhone’s. If I hadn’t had a lot of experience with Blackberries I’d be lost. It’s pretty obviously intended for an IT department to set up. As it is I’m having trouble configuring email. T-Mobile doesn’t seem to know I have a Blackberry and hasn’t sent the needed software down. Beside the usual Blackberry corporate support, the phone also works with Yahoo Mail, Gmail, and other POP systems. It appears to poll these systems periodically for mail.

Chester Plays ChessBottom line: The 8320 is a complicated device and there’s a steep learning curve. It’s not as beautiful as the iPhone, or as functional as a browser and media player, but it’s many times more useful for email and messaging. I’ve always loved Blackberries, and the 8320 is the most elegant Blackberry yet.

18 Replies to “RIM Throws A Curve”

  1. […] tech news blog – technology blog , gadgets, gaming ,… wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [ 3AE21776-4340-4E94-AE80-AE0ABDF7C0BC.jpg]I’ve been setting up my new Blackberry Curve 8320 and it provides a striking contrast to the iPhone, … browser that’s not as good as Safari and a media player also not as good as the iPod but with limited Posted in LOL: The Life of Leo — The personal blog of t… ( 161 links from 127 sites) […]

  2. I’m confused about the point of switching to the Blackberry with its third-party app support when the only two apps you are using are available on the iPhone. Google Maps is obviously already built-in to the iPhone and Bee Jive has a terrific client for the iPhone as well (it runs under Safari rather than as a separate icon but works great).

  3. As i understand, you can use a bluetooth GPS device with it, which the iPhone cannot. I believe google maps for blackberry will work with a bluetooth GPS device too.

  4. Very interesting perspective. Hope you talk more about the merits of each device on a podcast (MBW or TWiT).

  5. Leo, do you ever post reviews on Amazon.com? If so, what’s your username?

  6. Greg your right. I have downloaded Google Maps and use a GSAT BT GPS, works perfect! I only have the 8300 and it looks like Rogers in Canada will not be offering the 8320 (they offer the 8310 built in gps). I think they are afraid of losing data dollars offering the wireless.Leo I use a couple of apps that aren’t bad for tracking business stuff (Mileage etc)
    Mforms and Handbase is now availalbe for the BB

  7. @Josh in Nashville: It’s not fair to compare the far inferior web-app version of JiveTalk for iPhone to the BlackBerry release.. honestly. It’s not even in the same league. You should use the BlackBerry version before saying iPhone’s can even compete.
    and also, who cares if Google Maps is built into the iPhone? It takes less than a minute to download it to the blackBerry, and it can interface with a bluetooth GPS, one thing iPhone’s doesn’t do.

  8. Leo.. I think you should have waited to write about your phone until you were sure you had everything set up properly with a T-mobile CSR and tested it out a bit longer. I waited a week or two before writing my review of the Curve. The data plan for the BB probably isn’t working right on your system and it would be easily solved with a call to 611. I know the iPhone was easier to activate, etc, but can you say any other “smart” phone was ever as easy as that? When you buy the BlackBerry from t-mobile as a new customer, this kind of thing is set up for you by them.
    Here’s to the apple fanboys who are gonna get upset you’d ever consider this over jesusphone.

  9. The WiFi thing is generally touted — for good reason, at least, toward what’s currently available. But — something tells me you’d want to take a longer look at AT&T’s moves towards going the WiMAX route — which is of course more robust, and it would be a prudent move for them in the future, going up against Sprint and Verizon’s own WiMAX initiatives.
    I think Apple understands that WiMAX is the future of wireless broadband — and WiFi will remain relavent in the home and local networking markets.
    So, with that said — I do think much of what I read from my fellow technologists, is often gloss without recognition of developments in play.

  10. Hi Leo,
    Finally, a simple comparison of the new Curve. I’m a T-Mobile user and on the brink of getting the iPhone, but wanted more POVs on the Curve. I’ve never owned a Blackberry and don’t want to learning curve of not only setting up the Curve, but understanding the Blackberry way of doing things.

  11. I’ve got a hacked iPhone and the new has sorta wore off for me. I’m not really interested in keeping up with the cat/mouse game myself, so my wife and I are probably going to sell our unlocked 1.02 phones, and just go with a good smartphone and a good ipod. We will probably go with the ipod touch, simply due to liking the music aspect of the iphone, but we want things on our phone that apparently Jobs doesn’t think we need to use. Its unfortunate that they want to play this lockout game, as I really liked the phone, but I don’t like the direction its going. I’ve got T-mobile, so I will likely be getting the 8320 for both of us.

  12. Hi Leo,
    I’ve had an unlocked 8300 on T-Mobile for about 6 months and before my 8300, I never had a blackberry and while it was a touch challenging at first, the Blackberry is a sweet little unit. There are so many 3rd party apps and hacks you can do to the stock unit that it really speaks to my geek side. Plus, being a happy T-Mo customer I liked being able to get it going on T-Mo instead of ATT. My wife had a pearl months before I got my Curve and she loves it.
    I kinda wish I had waited to get the 8320 through T-Mo but I can wait a few months to upgrade when my contract expires and get the wi-fi! It would be super cool to have wi-fi instead of Edge only but even with that ball and chain, I would still buy my unlocked 8300 all over again!
    I have to say that while I am REALLY intrigued with the iPhone and think it looks fantastic and could be fun to use, I will NEVER consider the phone as long as it’s locked to ATT. Period, end of story. The data plans that I can get on T-Mo compared to ATT are like comparing a $50 steak to a $1 cheeseburger. I have a 14 year old daughter and I get UNLIMITED text for $10/mo on my T-Mo family plan…My daughter REGULARLY tears through 3000 text messages as month…I’d be bankrupt if I had an ATT data plan. And on T-mo I get unlimited data on my 8300 for $20/mo! Give me an iPhone with unlimited Data for $20/mo and I’m there! Unlock the iPhone and allow 3rd party apps officially and I would consider getting it…but as it stands now, my next phone will be the 8320 through T-Mo….

  13. I am in process of returning my Blackberry Curve, even thou it has wifi. I cannot see the benefit if a data plan is requierd to download maps. After speaking to my T-Mobile rep, I become extremely disapointed with the unit.Hopefully their will be a better unit in the future.

  14. I just picked up an 8820 on AT&T’s network. Asked them about VOIP and what, if anything they plan on doing in the future. Didn’t seem to think anything was on the horizon and said that T-Mobile uses it to make up for it’s smaller footprint when compared to AT&T, haha. I can definitely speak to the steeper learning curve, but i’ve got Gmail on IMAP, googlemaps (works great with the GPS!), facebook, and my twitter (using twitterberry) working just fine. Opera browser is nice, but doesn’t integrate with the phone as well in some instances.

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