Mobile // Mobile Devices
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5/9/2012
02:14 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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RIM's Latest BlackBerry Aims Low

BlackBerry Curve 9320, RIM's new entry-level smartphone, banks on BBM addicts.

Research In Motion unveiled a new BlackBerry Wednesday, the Curve 9320. It is a small and traditional BlackBerry smartphone, with a physical QWERTY keyboard and BlackBerry OS 7.1.

The Curve 9320 joins the recently announced 9220 at the bottom of RIM's smartphone lineup. For a BlackBerry, or any smartphone, really, it is as unremarkable as they come. The screen measures 2.44 inches across with 240 x 320 pixels. That's a lower-res screen than the 2005-era Palm Treo 650. It's no touch screen, either. It is a standard TFT LCD display. Of course, such a low-res and small screen keep the cost extremely low.

The physical keyboard, which is any BlackBerry's defining characteristic, has one significant advantage over its more advanced BlackBerry brothers: a dedicated BlackBerry Messenger button. A press of this key takes 9320 owners directly to the BBM app, where they can reach out to contacts and share media, chat, and plan group outings.

The device runs BlackBerry OS 7.1, which is the most up-to-date version available. One of the key benefits of this system is its use of connected apps, which allows BlackBerry owners to share things via social networks and BBM from within other applications.

[ Can RIM's new executives rescue its sagging fortunes? RIM's New CMO, COO Face Herculean Task. ]

The 9320 has a 3.2-megapixel camera that has a flash and can record video. Those images and videos can be stored on the 512 MB of onboard storage or a microSD card up to 32 GB. It supports a wide range of audio and video codecs and can send audio to standard headphones or stereo Bluetooth headphones.

Other features of the 9320 are an FM radio; a 1450 mAh battery rated for seven hours of talk time and 30 hours of music playback; mobile hotspot support; 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi with Cisco CCX certification and enterprise-grade security; and support for the 2G/3G networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile in the United States.

Neither of these operators has announced plans to sell the BlackBerry Curve 9320, and RIM hasn't provided a detailed timeline for availability and expected pricing. If it ever lands at AT&T and T-Mobile, I'd expect it to cost $50 or less with a service plan.

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