RIM launched the BlackBerry Curve 9320 in Singapore on July 25, 2012. The smartphone has the signature raised keys found in all other models of the Curve family and a lower resolution (320x240) 2.44-inch display. Unlike the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and BlackBerry Bold 9790, the BlackBerry Curve 9320 is not touch enabled. For the slight tradeoff, the BlackBerry Curve 9320 is available for the low retail price of SG$328 (~US$260) without a contract, with some local telcos offering it below SG$100 after subsidies.
RIM told me the BlackBerry Curve 9320 is currently available in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. In Thailand, the smartphone has been introduced, but it is not commercially available yet. The equivalent of the BlackBerry Curve 9320 in the U.S. market is the BlackBerry Curve 9310, though it has a different battery life due to the radio hardware.
Comparing the BlackBerry Curve 9320 to the Bold 9790
I have been a BlackBerry user for more than five years, and I used one of the first color models before the switch away from the click wheel. My previous BlackBerry device was a Bold 9790, which I used on a BIS service connected with Office 365 and BlackBerry Cloud. Compared to the BlackBerry Bold 9790, the BlackBerry Curve 9320 feels slightly thicker and has an inferior plastic backing (the Bold's backing is metal).
Switching over to the BlackBerry Curve 9320 was pretty straightforward. Since BlackBerry Cloud does not support wireless Enterprise Activation, I tethered the smartphone to my laptop in order to initialize the device from the BlackBerry Cloud administration portal. The requisite services were quickly transferred, which included synchronizing my email messages, calendar, contacts, and other configuration data.
I use my BlackBerry a lot for messaging, using BlackBerry Messenger, WhatsApp, and Trillian; I also rely on the device to quickly check my social media feeds and to respond to email in a timely manner. For these tasks, I detect no difference from the BlackBerry Bold 9790 where responsiveness is concerned, despite the budget-friendly pricing of the BlackBerry Curve 9320; I find this impressive and attribute it to OS 7.1 and the presence of adequate hardware. On the flip side, the very small text on Trillian IM is nowhere near as sharp as on the BlackBerry Bold 9790—a direct result of the BlackBerry 9320's lower resolution.
I have grown used to the touch screen that's in the Torch and recent Bold models, and the lack of a touch screen on the BlackBerry Curve 9320 felt cumbersome initially—being restricted to the optical trackpad felt slower. On the bright side, not having a touch screen means that I no longer have to engage the key lock before slipping the BlackBerry Curve 9320 into the front pocket of my jeans. I think most users would get used to the screen in a couple of days.
Overall, I am impressed with the BlackBerry Curve 9320 and think it's an excellent budget device for businesses that are awaiting the arrival of BlackBerry 10 devices in January 2013. Rather than be tied to a restrictive Telco contract or being forced to pay top dollar for a more expensive replacement, smaller businesses should find the BlackBerry Curve 9320 a highly affordable and usable option.
Photo courtesy of RIM
Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.