RIM BlackBerry Curve 8350i Review
Introduction:

So you thought Nextel was a dying brand, eh?  Well, so did we, but Sprint CEO Dan Hesse feels otherwise and some recent life has been breathed into the iDEN lineup.  First came some sleek(er) handsets, the i576 and i776, and now we have a flagship data device, the Curve 8350i.  Sure, the Curve has been available in one form or another since May of 2007, but considering that the best Nextel had to offer was the 7100i (yes, seriously) the Curve represents a major step forward.  Of course Nextel doesn’t have a 3G network (the term ½ G comes to mind) so they’ve made up for that with Wi-Fi, a feature not found in the CDMA cousin.  It also trumps previous 83xx Curves by sporting the 4.6 OS first seen on the Bold and Storm.  Lastly, and most importantly for the target audience, it’s rocking Nextel’s lightning fast Direct Connect (DC) service.

Included in the box you’ll find:

  • 1400 mAh Li-Ion battery
  • AC adapter
  • Holster
  • 2.5mm stereo headset
  • USB data cable
  • 1GB microSD


Design:

At a quick glance the 8350i looks like any other Curve; 2.4” QVGA display above the trackball and navigational keys with a 35 key QWERTY keypad.  The left side has a convenience key, miniUSB charging/data port and a 2.5mm headphone jack with the iDEN ring for PTT headsets.  While we usually prefer 3.5mm jacks, the iDEN-compatible 2.5mm jack is more practical for this offering.  The right side has a volume rocker and convenience key.  Like all Curves before it, the back of the 8350i simply features a 2.0 megapixel camera with LED flash at the top of the battery door.  The microSD slot is still frustratingly located under the battery.



You can compare the BlackBerry Curve 8350i with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

There are some differences, however.  First off the left convenience key is not actually a convenience key, it is a DC button.  Also, the 8350i is larger in every dimension.  Though slim for an iDEN device, the Curve is portly when compared to its cousins and adds some significant height as well.  The added size is a bigger issue on paper versus in hand though, as the 8350i feels downright comfortable to hold.


The keyboard feels better, too, which is not a small feat given that the Curve is often regarded as one of if not the best keyboards on the market.   There is more of a “pop” with the 8350 and the keys feel much sturdier than on previous 83xx models.  The layout is identical to previous models, and again the number pad and speaker key are half silver, half black.

The trackball feels better too.  The Curve’s increased thickness means the trackball is more recessed into the housing, which is more comfortable.  It is not a big- or probably even intentional- difference, but because of this your thumb now rests more on the housing while using the ball making navigating easier in our opinion.

The 8350i has a piano black finish and the DC button and trackball are lined with yellow trim.  While small, these accents are not subtle and do well to indicate its Nextel heritage.  Like previous Curves, the sides are coated in a rubber finish which make the device easy to hold and less prone to slip out of your hand.  All in all we like the color scheme of the 8350i and would put it just behind Sprint’ dark red 8330 as our favorite finish.



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