As the BlackBerry Bold gets smaller, lighter, and sleeker, one might wonder "why do we even need the Curve sub-brand anymore?" Many would place a Bold into the hands of businesspersons, and, according to RIM President and Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis, the Curve 3G will appeal to entry-level users looking for a simple and affordable smartphone. Of course the Pearl already fills that gap quite nicely; but the SureType partial QWERTY keyboard design of that ultra-small device isn't for everyone. That's where the Curve comes in, it seems. But how does the latest model, the Curve 3G 9300, compare to the Bold 9700, which seems to be almost identical to it?
In terms of size, the two devices are indeed virtually identical, at 4.29 x 2.36 x 0.55" (h/w/d) for the Curve and a mere 0.01" deeper for the Bold 9700. But the weight is noticeably different, at just 3.7 ounces for the Curve versus 4.3 ounces for the Bold. Both use the new optical trackpad that mimics a tiny version of a typical notebook's mousepad, versus the old, and often finicky, trackball design. The screens are the same size, but the resolution differs, with the Bold boasting a much higher resolution display at 480 x 360 versus the Curve's 320 x 240 display.
The most significant difference between the two smartphones, however, is that, while the Curve comes loaded with the 5.0 edition of the BlackBerry mobile operating system (OS), it is ready for upgrading to the new 6.0 OS. Many of the upgrades with OS 6.0 are best realized with touch screen devices like the new Torch (the only other BlackBerry to date to operate on 6.0) but there are some that customers will appreciate fully in the Curve. These include a customizable home screen with easily moveable icons; the ability to integrate information from BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace through Social Feeds; apps for popular services like Podcasts and YouTube; and threaded text messages (although BlackBerry users are more likely to use BlackBerry Messenger anyway, which already appears in a threaded view.) The Bold 9700 is not upgradeable to this operating system.
Both devices have an integrated media player and built-in camera with flash and video recording capabilities. But the Bold's is superior at 3.2 MP (the Curve's is a paltry 2 MP with fixed focus.) The Curve and Bold both have GPS, along with BlackBerry Maps, and of course all the standard BlackBerry features, like the popular BlackBerry Messenger application.
In terms of connectivity, both have WiFi and Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP for playing back music from A2DP-compatible music phones. Music playback time is up to 29 hours with the Curve and 38 hours with the Bold.
Operating time varies between the devices: the Curve has a rated standby time of up to 19 days using its 1150 mAHr rechargeable battery, and a rated 4.5 hours talk time. The Bold, on the other hand, can last up to 21 days standby, and up to 6 hours talk time via its 1500 MAHr rechargeable battery.
Both come with 256 MB on on-board memory, but the Bold also comes with a 2 GB microSD memory card. Note that the Curve is indeed compatible with optional memory card media; but the customer would need to purchase one separately.
Finally, the phones differ in terms of network compatibility. The Curve is compatible with the Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE network and Tri-band UMTS network. The Bold can operate on the Tri-band 3G HSDPA, Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, and Tri-band UMTS networks.
The Curve 3G currently sells through Rogers Wireless for $79.99 on a three-year term; and the Bold for $20 more. On its own, the Bold is now $550, and the Curve 3G $400.
Which one is worth opting for? For an additional $20, I would go for the Bold 9700, which gives you more network coverage, a higher resolution screen, better camera, and longer battery life. Not to mention a 2 GB memory card, which will undoubtedly come in handy for storing files. However, the latest operating system, which is only available for the Curve 3G, makes the decision a tough one. If the added benefits appeal to you, it might just be worth opting for the Curve; especially if you're not one to use the camera in your phone often, and don't care that you'd be downgrading from a decent 3.2 MP to a 2 MP version. Otherwise, just wait for the next edition of the Bold; that one will almost certainly come loaded with OS 6.0. But it will also likely be more expensive.
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