Last weekend I finally upgraded my old BlackBerry 7100t to the new BlackBerry Curve (aka: 8320) on T-Mobile. It had been almost 3 years since I upgraded my cell phone (once I decide on something I typically stick with it for a while) and the 7100t performed pretty well, however, I was ready for an upgrade. I have been waiting for this device for almost 4 months and was very happy when T-Mobile decided to release it a few days earlier than expected. Although I was not the first one I know to procure the device, I’ve been pretty happy with the performance of my new BlackBerry.
Read all the details after the jump.
So why was I attracted to the BlackBerry Curve? It has a faster processor, has Wi-Fi/UMA (the ability to make calls over Wi-Fi), and a full QWERTY keyboard.
What’s New? (Stuff I care about)
- The BlackBerry Curve has the new navigation ball that was introduced in the BlackBerry Perl and it replaces the “click wheel” on the side. I was hesitant at first, but after adjusting the ball sensitivity to my liking (90% sensitivity), I’ve gotten used to it and I like it much better than the “click wheel” I had on the 7100t.
- Wi-Fi Support — the BlackBerrry Curve has integrated Wi-Fi, but don’t expect it to drastically improve your web browsing speed. It is maybe a little bit faster, but it is hard for me to tell the different between EDGE and Wi-Fi if in a good coverage area. No issues getting the Wi-Fi setup at home using WPA security, however, we’ve had lots of problems with our Enterprise Wi-Fi at work which uses much more robust type of security (802.1X – PEAP). We have been working this issue with both RIM and Cisco the past few days and the support cases on pending on both sides. RIM did acknowledge to us on a phone call that their are “known issues” with the Wi-Fi and Over The Air (OTA) software “pushes.” I’m guessing these will be resolved with a patch or the upcoming BlackBerry OS version 4.3. You should have no issues with the 8320 on on your home Wi-Fi network or down at the local coffee shop.
Update 12-2007: In working with RIM, we have discovered the root cause of the 802.1X PEAP authentication problem I mention above. See my post over at BlackBerryForums for more information.
- UMA Support — the T-Mobile version of the 8320 has UMA support which is the ability to make phone calls and receive “push email” via a Wi-Fi connection. Even if you don’t subscribe to the T-Mobile “Hotspot@Home” service, the device will route your calls over Wi-Fi if a connection is available. You can override the network preference if you don’t want your device to utilize the Wi-Fi for voice/data which is a nice option. I have not whipped out my packet sniffer yet to see if this data is encrypted going to T-Mobile/RIM, but given it uses UDP ports 500 and 4500, I suspect they are doing some sort of tunneling for security; if you happen to be using an unencrypted WLAN. Using UMA does allow your BlackBerry to get email and access other data services while on the phone — pretty cool!
- Multi-Media support — the BlackBerry Curve has music, video, and picture support. The 8320 has a camera with flash, but don’t go replace your digital camera just yet. Personally, I really don’t care for a camera on a cell phone and would rather give-up the camera if I could get integrated GPS support like the BlackBerry 8820. Currently, only AT&T has released the 8820 so I’m happy with the trade off — plus I do not like the 8800 series keyboard.
- My 7100t only had GPRS data service and even though EDGE is no 3G or EVDO Rev A (Verizon/Sprint), it does boast a noticeable improvement in download time. Web sites that are optimized for mobile browsing work great and are speedy to download, however, hit a site that is not optimized and you’ll be waiting a while for it to render — even on Wi-Fi.
- Why does it seem there are not very many pilot or aviation applications for the BlackBerry OS? With all the corporate pilots out there you would like someone would be developing some killer aviation apps for BlackBerry. If you know of any cool ones, send them my way, but my searching has not turned up much of anything worth loading on my device.
- Update 10/11/2007: Reception: I have used this phone for a couple of weeks now and have been pretty happy with the reception and sound quality. The volume seems to be much louder than my 7100t, however, like the 7100t it does have a “sweet spot” to get max audio output. I had a co-worker that noticed a “pop” or “click” sound when making a calls on his 8320 on UMA. I have not had this issue, but I pretty much keep my Wi-Fi off unless I need to use it.
- I have had nothing but great customer service from T-Mobile. Sure, I’ve had my share of issues, but they always seem to get things fixed and in almost 8 years of service, I’ve only had to call a customer care a handful of times.
- GSM — the sound quality on GSM is much better than TDMA or CDMA. I can tell when someone calls me from a Verizon or Sprint cell phone, both of which use CDMA. I could go into a million reasons why I like GSM, but I’m sold.
- T-Mobile RIM BlackBerry support is pretty good. If Customer Care does not know the answer, they are happy to hand you off to RIM’s support team who can usually help you out.
There you have it, my brief, and somewhat random review of my new BlackBerry Curve 8320.