by Al Sacco

RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900 (T-Mobile): How to Know if the New Curve is for You

Jan 08, 20094 mins
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Research in Motion (RIM) and T-Mobile USA on Tuesday announced the latest addition to the BlackBerry maker’s U.S. lineup: The BlackBerry Curve 8900. With so many new BlackBerrys landing on the scene in recent months, including the touch screen Storm, consumer-oriented Pearl Flip and the high-end Bold, picking a new ‘Berry can be a bit overwhelming. Here are a few reasons why the new Curve might be a good fit for you.

RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900
RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900

First of all, some background on the BlackBerry Curve 8900, as well as some tech specs from RIM. The new Curve was initially released by T-Mobile Germany in November, and then later in December by Canadian carrier Rogers Wireless. Though official pricing information is not currently available from RIM or T-Mobile USA, Rogers is asking for $199.99 along with a three-year service commitment. T-Mobile expects to release the device next month, and initial pricing is likely to be similar to Rogers’, but with a two-year contract.

BlackBerry Curve Tech Specs from RIM:

  • 512 MHz next-generation processor

  • Quad-band EDGE support

  • Built -in GPS and Wi-Fi

  • 2.4 inch, high-resolution (HVGA+ / 480×360), light-sensing display

  • Enhanced Web browser

  • DataViz Documents To Go

  • Advanced multimedia player with support for streaming video

  • Support for BlackBerry Media Sync
  • Expandable memory slot for up to 16GB of storage

  • 3.2 MP camera with auto focus, digital zoom, flash, image stabilization and video recording

  • Support for the renowned messaging capabilities of the BlackBerry platform, including push e-mail, popular instant messaging applications and premium phone features

The features that really jump out at me here are the 512-Mhz processor, internal GPS and Wi-Fi, the HVGA+/480×360 display and 3.2 MP camera. The new device also features support for T-Mobile’s great HomeSpot@Home service, which lets users place unlimited calls at home via Wi-Fi, as well as a cool new black trackball, which is easier to keep clean. (Early rumors suggested that the new “atomic” trackball was also designed to help keep dirt and grit out of its inner workings, a common problem with existing RIM devices with trackballs; however, neither RIM nor T-Mobile mentioned anything about this, and the black trackball appears to be the same except for its color.)

If you’re in the market for a new BlackBerry or smartphone, the above features are the ones that set the Curve 8900 apart from its earlier Curve 83xx brothers and other BlackBerry siblings.

It’s important to note that the device is only available in the U.S. via T-Mobile at this point, so if you’re not a T-Mobile customer or aren’t willing to make the switch, you’ll have to wait for the new Curve to land on other carriers. As the current 8900 version is a GSM device, it seems likely that AT&T will be next to get new Curve. CDMA versions for carriers like Verizon and Sprint are also likely to follow, but I bet it’ll be at least a number of months before that happens.

The Curve 8900 is similar in styling to the Storm, but it features a full QWERTY keyboard. If you’re a fan of the Storm aesthetic, but require a physical keyboard, you’re sure to appreciate the Curve 8900.

RIM’s latest BlackBerry also features an external memory slot, which can support microSDHC cards up to 16GB—the same amount available to Pearl 8220, Storm and Bold users.

And it’s significantly smaller than RIM’s flagship device, the Bold 9000, though equally attractive.

The only real drawback to the Curve 8900 that I can see is the fact that it’s not a 3G device. This might not be such a big deal for many of you, but the lack of 3G means slower data transfer speeds than other next-generation devices, and an inability to receive e-mail and/or surf the Web while on a call—that one’s a biggie for me personally.

I’ve also heard rumblings that the device isn’t exactly as durable as it could be, though I haven’t actually had a chance to get my hands on it—I’ve a request out to T-Mobile for a review unit, and I’ll post my take on the device ASAP.