BlackBerry Curve 8330 Face-Off: Sprint vs. Verizon Wireless
All morning we’ve heard nothing but muffled growling from two fresh boxes that just landed in our office. The new BlackBerry 8330 Curves from Sprint ($179 with two-year contract and rebates) and Verizon Wireless ($169 with two-year contract and rebates) are finally here and they are eager to do battle. Each 8330 has its own unique features, and both offer EV-DO connectivity and GPS, but only one will emerge as the winner. We’ll be bringing you our full reviews soon, but here are our first hands-on impressions of these eagerly awaited smart phones. Check out how the Curves fare, round by round… Update: The full review of the Sprint Curve has been posted. Design/Interface VZW 8330: The interface of the liquid-silver Curve 8330 is admittedly cleaner. Icons are large and sit atop a fresh white background. The handset also spares you the preinstalled applications, so the desktop is less cluttered. Aside from the basics available on most BlackBerrys, you’ll see VZ Navigator as the only additional icon. If the Verizon version’s theme doesn’t suit you, there is always the option to switch out to preloaded RIM themes. Sprint 8330: Sprint’s titanium-gray Curve has a desktop that looks cluttered at first, but that’s only because it’s chock-full with a host of useful folders to application installation shortcuts that most users will be pleased to see at boot-up. Sprint created folders for each set of apps, including: Entertainment, Instant Messaging, and Communities (more on what’s inside each folder below in the Multimedia shoot-out category). Each icon sits atop Sprint’s sun logo splattered on a black background. If you prefer an old-school RIM theme like BB Dimension Zen, you can switch to it by visiting the Options menu. Winner: Tie While we appreciate Sprint’s preloaded application-download shortcuts for chat applications and more, other users may prefer Verizon Wireless’ cleaner interface. However, those customers may also dislike the fact that they’re stuck with the VZW theme. EV-DO Data VZW 8330: Verizon’s Curve doesn’t come with V CAST’s video or music, but it does support YouTube streaming from m.youtube.com. Our video started after 23 seconds—13 seconds behind Sprint’s Curve, which had a 1xEV-DO connection in our office. We also loaded some popular Web site home pages: Update: With a 1xEV DO connection on our replacement unit, we loaded the same streaming m.youtube.com video in 5 seconds, three seconds faster than the Sprint Curve. CNN.com: 10 seconds Update: 5 seconds ESPN.com: 9 seconds Update : 6 seconds WSJ.com: 9 seconds Update: remained 9 seconds Laptopmag.com: 14 seconds Update: 11 seconds Average: 10.5 seconds Update: 7.5 seconds Note: Our VZW review unit wasn’t displaying the EV1X sign, but we were in a coverage area with EV-DO connectivity. Verizon is looking into the problem and we will report back. Update: Our replacement unit was able to obtain an EV-DO connection and our updates scores are listed above. Sprint 8330: Sprint was able to load a streaming video from m.youtube.com in just 8 seconds—marginally slower than the Verizon Wireless Curve. Sprint’s Curve also supports the Sprint Music Store, and we were able to download Nelly’s Party People in just 19 seconds. The same Web site home pages loaded a bit more quickly: CNN.com: 6 seconds ESPN.com: 8 seconds WSJ.com: 8 seconds Laptopmag.com: 18 seconds Average: 10 seconds Winner: Sprint 8330 Update: Verizon Wireless Our Verizon Wireless unit with an EVDO connection was able to load websites an average of 2.5 seconds faster, and streamed m.youtube.com videos faster, too.