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Wait! There's a newer generation of this model: RIM Z30
Florence Legrand Published on February 23, 2012
Updated on February 3, 2014
Translated by Sam McGeever
This is an archive page, the content is no longer up to date.


  • Operating system (OS)
  • OS version tested
  • Screen size
  • Screen resolution
  • Weight 98 g
  • Dimensions 109 x 60 x 11.2 mm
The Curve 9380 is the latest member of the BlackBerry family and has an entirely touch-based interface.  Situated in between entry-level handsets and more mid-range mobiles, how will the lack of RIM's famous physical keyboard affect our opinion of the new phone?  And how does it stand up to the other touch-based smartphones it will have to compete with?


The new Curve is thin and light.  It's easy to hold and won't weigh you down.  There's not much else to say about the external design: it's a smartphone that looks like a BlackBerry.

Disappointingly, the extremely shiny finish soon ended up covered with greasy fingerprints.  The same is true of the shiny screen which clearly hasn't received any kind of protective coating.  We much prefer the soft-touch materials used for the new BlackBerry Bold 9790 which we recently reviewed. 

BlackBerry Curve 9380 review - homescreen

The 3.2'', 360 x 480 pixel screen did reasonably well in our tests for contrast and brightness, and is also capable of reproducing colours accurately.  The resolution is a little limited for a screen this big, leaving things looking pixellated if you look too closely.  It's also a problem when browsing the web, where you'll often have to zoom into pages to read them properly. 

BlackBerry Curve 9380 review - from the back

Although the new Bold 9790 has separate physical buttons under the screen, the latest edition of the Curve doesn't divide up these four controls for accessing the menu, going back and so on.  That means you have to look down at the handset to find the right button, and even then you can't always be sure you've pressed the one you wanted.  In short, we have a strong preference for clearly separated controls, which are much easier to use.

We're also sad to see the physical keyboard disappear because it's so much easier than its touchscreen equivalent.  Things are (almost) as good when you flip the phone to landscape mode, where the keyboard is much better than in portrait mode.  Of course, typing works with a very effective predictive text system.

BlackBerry Curve 9380 review - keyboard

Interface, navigation and responsiveness

Just like the Bold 9790, the Curve 9380 runs BlackBerry OS 7.  The latest version of the OS is better-suited to a touch-based interface, but there is still some work to do.  We often found ourselves pressing the wrong button, and ended up launching the wrong app on several occasions.  To avoid the vagaries of the over-sensitive touchscreen, we started using the optical trackpad underneath the display.  It's also the easiest, most accurate way of honing in on a link in a webpage.

BlackBerry Curve 9380 review - social hub

It might not be as nice as the QNX platform that RIM is still working on porting from its PlayBook tablet, but the new interface is better-suited to touchscreen devices.  Indeed, although it isn't 100% intuitive just yet, RIM's developers have clearly made an effort by adding a social networking aggregator, bringing together Facebook, Google Talk and MSN alongside the famous proprietary messaging app, BBM.


Even though it's nicer than it was, the look and feel of the user interface is still less rich and intuitive than with Android or Apple.  Further, most apps are more expensive in the AppWorld.

Overall, the handset responds well, and the various menus are smooth.  The combination of an 800 MHz processor, 512 MB of memory and a well-integrated OS keeps the whole thing ticking over nicely. 



BalckBerry Curve 9380 review

 Web browsing is a bit of a mixed bag. While pages load up relatively quickly and text scrolls smoothly, pages aren't resized as well as they could be, so it's quite hard to read text without using the zoom. The browser is certainly faster, but it's a far cry from mobile versions of Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Opera. 

BlackBerry Curve 3980 review - web browser

With a 5 Megapixel camera, the Curve 9380 can't really work miracles.  Not only are 5 Megapixels just not enough, the non-backlit sensor just doesn't do much with what's it got to work with either.  The photos we took suffered from a lot of electronic noise, especially in darker areas, and there's not much point in looking for too many details.  Compared to the Bold 9790, which also has a 5 Megapixel sensor, the Curve is less impressive, and has a strong red tinge. 


BlackBerry Curve 3980 review - camera
BlackBerry Curve 3980 review - test scene

When you're recording video, you'll need to make do with 480p—going somewhat against the current grain for HD video on smartphones.

The audio output is clean, and up to scratch with the current crop of smartphones.  On the other hand, be careful with the bass boost, which drives up not just the noise levels but also the distortion.

Finally, although the battery life is acceptable for a smartphone—in that it's longer than a day—the Bold 9790 can go much longer.
Our verdict on the mobile Internet experience is fairly mixed.  Pages load quickly, and text scrolls by smoothly, but it's hard to read without using the zoom.  The real problem is the algorithm used to resize pages.  It's faster than it was before, but still trails a long way behind Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Opera.
The Curve 9380 as a phone
We didn't have any problems with voice calls on this handset: the sound was clear, with no crackling and the volume is loud enough to hear the other party even when in a noisy environment.

As well as the obvious candidates like 3G, Bluetooth and WiFi n, the Curve 9380 also has an NFC chip.

Another strong point of this handset is the excellent handling of contacts and e-mails.


  • Good size to weight ratio
  • Decent battery life
  • Generally responsive
  • Social network aggregator
  • BBM service
  • E-mail handling


  • Picks up greasy fingerprints quickly
  • Poor quality photos
  • Video camera limited
  • Buttons under the screen hard to use


Our biggest complaint about the new touchscreen BlackBerry Curve 9380 is, well, the fact it doesn't have a physical keyboard. A BlackBerry without a keyboard is just another touch-control smartphone, and in this case it has an interface that needs some work and an application store that's pretty quiet. However, it still manages to handle social networks, e-mails and the free BBM instant messaging platform.
2 RIM BlackBerry Curve 9380 DigitalVersus 2012-02-23 18:12:00
Compare: RIM BlackBerry Curve 9380 to its competitors

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