Test Center: BlackBerry Curve 8900 hits the hotspot with VoIP
RIM's pocket-sized, dual-mode QWERTY handset taps Wi-Fi and IP telephony for clear, unlimited T-Mobile HotSpot calling
RIM has developed a knack for pulling customers into new BlackBerry devices. That's no mean feat. BlackBerry is the most mature, most imitated, and most-targeted brand in the mobile industry. RIM keeps rolling out new handsets and racking up new exclusives with wireless operators by finding gaps in its own product line and filling them better than its competitors can. By teaming up with T-Mobile, RIM's latest product helps fill your budget gaps by providing flat-rate unlimited IP telephony from your home, office, airport, or any locale that hosts a T-Mobile Hotspot.
The BlackBerry Curve 8900, an EDGE/Wi-Fi/UMA handset currently exclusive to T-Mobile in the United States, is a pocket-sized take on RIM's traditional QWERTY recipe. Its firmware, and therefore its GUI and functionality, is a near match for BlackBerry Bold, RIM's full-sized QWERTY handset, and Curve 8900's chassis is styled after the strikingly black-clad Bold, except for a generous strip of chrome-colored plastic around its perimeter. This easily scratched trim is an unfortunate design choice for a device that's meant to mix it up with your car keys all day long. But I found it to be a fair trade given Curve 8900's fast CPU, expandable flash memory, very sharp 360-by-480 display (not wide aspect), respectable 3.2-megapixel camera, and best of all, seamless Wi-Fi calling.
A MicroSDHC card slot behind the battery cover provides room for up to 32GB of swappable storage for media and other files. The Curve 8900 identifies as a USB storage class device (flash drive) when the handset is connected to a PC or Mac, so files can be moved to and from the device without a driver. Now that BlackBerry's browser supports downloads and its mail client manages attachments as files, I've found that the ability to transfer documents to and from a BlackBerry eliminates much of the need for a costly tethering plan.