During testing the mobile email features it worked pretty well. I used the BlackBerry Internet Service, designed for POP3 email users, and was certainly kept up to date with all the really important email and (regrettably) the spam that wings into my various inboxes.
The Internet Service keeps a constant eye on whatever POP3 accounts you ask it to and delivers emails it spots to your BlackBerry as it retrieves them. Of course how rapid this is will depend in part on the efficiency of the sender's, and your own, email server(s) and in part on network coverage. Either way, you can force a check for new messages whenever you want to.
It is easy to choose to delete emails from just the device or from the server as well, the latter option being great for spam filtering, but I do have two issues with email management.
First, I’d love to be able to flag individual emails from the full list and then delete the lot from the device and server. As it is you have to delete them individually or can delete in bulk all those which arrived prior to the one currently selected, but you can’t hand-pick a selection (eg the obvious spam) to delete en masse.
Also, sorry RIM but I am not a huge fan of the round trackball known as the ‘pearl’. I find it needs too many swipes with the thumb – something bigger might be easier to get to grips with. But there is no doubt that putting the navigation key dead centre beneath the screen instead of using a side mounted scroll wheel makes the Curve equally efficient for both left and right handed users.
The screen might look a little lost in amongst the keyboard and control buttons, but its 2.5 inches corner to corner, 320 x 240 pixel resolution and 65,000 colours aren’t out of kilter with what you can expect from today’s Windows Mobile smartphones and PDAs.
This is a Quad-band phone with GPRS and EDGE support, though without either 3G or Wi-Fi it can hardly be said to be at the cutting edge. These and the absence of the GPS antenna, which was one of the wow factors of the 8800 are sad omissions.
I tested the battery by asking the Curve to play music non-stop while its SIM was active – i.e. while it was performing its mobile email function. It gave me nearly ten and a half hours of life. It also lasted me for a four day period away from home providing mobile email and a few voice calls (but no music listening) without recourse to mains power.
The Curve is certainly a neat little BlackBerry, small and light, and comfortable to use. I’d have liked Wi-Fi and 3G but at least RIM is clearly working hard at developing its multimedia capabilities. For a first attempt in that respect the Curve does pretty well.