A BlackBerry is a BlackBerry May 19, 2012
The BlackBerry Curve 9370 for Verizon Wireless is a novel entry-level device. The device has several compelling features that are trivialized by very specific failures in the ecosystem. It is still a BlackBerry. If you have a budget, this is great device. For disclosures sake, I had the Bold 9650 before jumping to the Droid Incredible 2, my most recent phone and I am part of the quote unquote young demographic.
So far, I have found the form factor to be unnecessarily small given the tradeoff is battery life and auto-focus. I have no problems with the sleek appeal of the device, and it is nice, but sometimes it can feel excessively miniaturized for my fingers. That said, a bulkier device would have been more welcome in my books if it meant a better economical device. The material and build quality is of sturdy plastics and has nothing to point out. For the price, I am satisfied.
The battery life on this device is something to debate about before purchasing. The 1000mAh battery is small enough that charging to full takes just one hour but weak enough to cripple the device with games or continuous lengthy phone calls. So far as long as there is no open data connection, if the phone updates data and GPS every 15 minutes and uses push, normal app usage throughout day out of holster with a few reasonable length phone calls each day, the phone will last you over 24 hours based on my usage of a full charge. With OS 7.1 the battery saver starts after 30% and clears the memory on holster which did improve the battery life tremendously. OS 7.0 yielded about 13-26 hours to empty while OS 7.1 yielded 28-32 hours to empty depending on usage. Take an average 4.2%/hr decent usage drain and up to 9%/hr heavy usage drain (when the battery burns your hand).
The keyboard is small on this device and cause occasional mistakes for large fingers. You may be able to type on the keyboard with reasonable speed if you have a habit, unlike me. I seem to be basing this on my use of the 9650 keyboard. Its a Curve keyboard and you should know that going in. Operating/navigating with one hand is otherwise great. If you want a great keyboard, get the 9930. I like call mute being between the volume keys but I failed to notice the new location at first.
The display is small. There are times when I wish the phone was stretched in dimensions overall but this is the Curve and pairs great with a Playbook.
The camera is hit or miss. The camera is definitely better compared to other high end phones smartphones... but in low-light or close-up scenarios the camera fails with flying colors.
The deal breaker is with the ecosystem specifically for BlackBerry OS 7.X devices. BlackBerry offered many free apps for Playbook and BlackBerry devices but most are lackluster except for premium DocumentsToGo that is bundled. OS 7 has many games with trivial graphics that are halfway decent. The problem is many of the few remaining core productivity apps are now defunct or problematic. The app experience feels incomplete. This is critical considering how useful and loyal those few apps made my 9650 and how barren it makes my 9370 feel. There are still enough apps to make the phone complete however. I hesitated recommending the 9650 because it was severely underpowered. Now that the 9370 and 9930 are hardware all equipped up to NFC, the Operating System followed. The core OS in my opinion makes up for the missing apps (i.e. Wells Fargo) and the reason I still purchased the 9370. The only thing missing is some form of NFC Mobile Payment and Wells Fargo for 9370.
The operating system is standard issue BlackBerry. The OS has several idiosyncrasies I can point out requiring alterations and is showing its age but those that enjoy little change overall while maintaining function will like this update. The processor is small but still makes the reboot times bearable. The web browser overall is vastly improved and now somewhat useable from OS 6 and the 9650 but without a touchscreen or larger viewing area this will always be a sub-par and expected experience. Other than that, the trackpad-based, red light, interconnected operating system is something I like. It just works for me. The Curve or any BlackBerry does not need a touchscreen to complete what the phone sets out to assist the user with.
In the box, we are lacking a holster, which should be mandatory with any RIM product. The BlackBerry was made to work with a holster, period! I can understand not having headphones in the box and frankly did not care because I have a Bluetooth. I ended up buying a holster later and it works great for me. Also, do note that the 9650 came with world charger adapter and the new BlackBerry(s) do not. This made the new smaller charger for the world phone instantly useless since I have old, superior one that is actually global.
Coming to the last few categories of review: call quality, reception, and global access. Call quality was overall exceptional. Speakerphone is okay. Reception is normal with a solid 2-3 bars 70% of the time in most places and 5 bars in strong coverage area. On Verizon, this is close to the only Global Phone on the market that is still reasonably priced. I had the Droid 4 LTE, Droid Pro, HTC Trophy, iPhone 4S, and BB9930 to compare with at the time.
The Curve 9370 is interestingly small. It has its downsides but is a great 'sub-compact'. You should know when looking at BlackBerry Devices if you are the user the phone was made for. If so, this could be a great long term device.
The positive features about BlackBerry and the reason why I choose this phone over the other options is because of the keyboard with DocumentsToGo, BlackBerry Travel and SIM slot, push email with easy attachments, and the call quality/battery. AND all of this is part and parcel of the phone OS. Android seemed intuitive but haphazard to me. Customization and apps does not mean the best experience and that is why I left Android. BlackBerry is just a well rounded self-contained candidate for me. I left BlackBerry initially because it was underpowered. Now, I am happy enough to give this phone a full 4 stars.
TL;DR: Its a Curve. Good calls. Okay battery w 7.1. Ecosystem/App Installation is not good. Great core OS. Great VALUE.
Ease of Use 4/5
Features 4/5 or 1/5 if counting apps
Battery Life 4/5 (OS 7.1)
UPDATE: After using this phone for many months and two OS updates, the phone shows the spin wheel from time to time but not so often to bother me at all. Boot time is typical. The battery lasts a full 20 hour day to 15% with OS 7.1 and moderate to heavy usage which makes me content knowing recharge takes only 1.5 hours. Bluetooth is always on. Overall, I am happy. It is fair to note the GPS works better than older models but still has trouble pin pointing you in gray areas. NFC only works with particular tags. The phone is relatively future proofed so I will still use it for the contracted period or longer and do recommend this phone for a budget minded shopper... IF the phone suits them.
BlackBerry has been there. I know it. I know its complaints. It works for me. All the time. And the phone is not fragile.
Don't Buy this Phone February 13, 2013
At this point, I hate this phone. The first issue I had with it occurred quite literally the second I got home from the store. I get it going and the browser does not work, I attempt to restart it, but wait, there's no way to restart it through the GUI. So I proceed to remove the battery and the problem persists. I return it to the store and they replace it. Next, a few days later, my phone begins freezing up on me randomly. This still occurs at least once a day with average use. The camera on this phone is one of the worst I have seen on the phone. I do not know how to explain this in a technical way, but whenever there is a hint of darkness, the picture turns out black (with or without flash).
But, aside from all these things are my four main gripes. Firstly is the app store. There are absolutely no useful apps on this and it is instead filled with useless, expensive knock-off mini games and things of the sort. Secondly is the OS. It is very slow and inconvenient. The OS tends to have random freeze-ups and is overall very difficult to work with. Finally, and this is probably the worst thing with this phone, is the BROWSER. The Blackberry is intended as a business phone, and in this day and age, access to the internet and ease of use are very necessary. But, the browser on this phone manages to freeze up constantly, have what is probably the worst GUI of any phone to exist, and have glitches occur whenever possible. I could go on about the specific glitches, but that list would drag on and on. And, to top all of this up is my fourth issue with this, there is no goddamn way to restart the phone without removing the battery. This issue plagues Blackberry's and can only be remedied with paid, faulty applications (from the app world) which often include 60 seconds worth of ads. And to follow, once you replace your battery or pay your $10 and go through the ads, the restart takes 10 minutes to complete! That is just unacceptable with the number of glitches which occur and require a restart.
In conclusion, I am honestly excited for December of this year when my plan finally expires. This phone has completely turned me off to Blackberry and I can see why they are going under. DO NOT BUY THIS PHONE, YOU WILL REGRET IT.