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The handset's memory has also been boosted to 256MB and the memory card slot now takes cards of up to 16GB in size. The card slot is found under the battery cover and has a bit of an odd design. To get a card out of it you have to slide it out of a recess that's tight up against the SIM card holder. Elegant it is not, but at least it does let you hot swap cards.
For taking snaps the 8900 has a 3.2-megapixel camera with autofocus and an LED flash. It's a significant improvement on the 2.0-megapixel camera used in the previous Curve models, but it's still not all that great. When you transfer shots to a computer you can see that they lack fine detail and suffer from some colour fringing.
RIM supplies the handset with a pair of headphones that have built-in hands-free functionality. Unfortunately, they're a tad uncomfortable to wear and the sound quality is about as good as a pair of headphones you might pick up down your local Poundshop. Luckily, as the Curve sports a standard headphone jack, you can use your own cans with it. With a proper set of headphones the sound quality is actually reasonably good, although not on the same par as the likes of the iPhone, as it doesn't sound quite as warm and clean.
Like other recent BlackBerry models, the 8900 uses the new V4.5 of the company's operating system. As well as fresher, cleaner icons this also has a neat feature where six shortcuts are added to the bottom of the standby screen to give you quick access to features like the media browser, email client and camera. All of these are customisable, so you can choose which apps are represented.
Obviously, BlackBerry devices are famous for their emailing abilities, and the 8900 is no different. It's easy to set up with your current email account and there are now extra applications for instant messaging and social networking sites like Facebook. On top of this, there are a number of apps to let you open and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint Office files. The standard web browser is also very good and although it doesn't support Flash most pages load without any trouble and retain their standard formatting. As the phone also has onboard GPS, RIM has preloaded it with BlackBerry Maps software.
Throughout our test battery life was extremely good. We got around two and a half days out of it before it needed a charge. In fact, the only really big problem with the 8900 is the lack of 3G support. While this isn't all that noticeable when you're using it for email on the go, it is frustratingly slow when you're trying to load web pages or use the BlackBerry Maps software when you're out and about.
The Curve 8900 is a worthy successor to the previous models in RIM's Curve range. This is because the company has managed to retain the DNA that made those devices so popular while also adding some neat extras into the mix such as the classier looks, faster processor and sharper screen. Sure, the lack of 3G is a disappointment, but whereas it would be a deal breaker on a lesser handset, on the 8900 it's simply a bit of a distraction.
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