BlackBerry Curve 9380 review: Not what you’d expect

GSMArena team, 29 December 2011.

Same ol' gallery

The image gallery hasn't changed since the OS 6, so it should be familiar to all the BlackBerry users already.

Images can be browsed in grid or viewed as a standard list. There’s searching by name here too, but we’re not the type that remembers the names of our image files, so we won’t count that one in favor.

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The gallery

The Curve 9380 has a built-in accelerometer to automatically toggle portrait and landscape mode as you browse your picture collection.

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Browsing images

Picture browsing is pretty fast and so are panning and zooming, including the pinch zoom. A tap and hold on a picture provides shortcuts for sending, copying and renaming. You can set it as wallpaper as well or use as a contact photo. Further options such as image properties, rotate or slide show are available in a popup menu.

New icons for the music player

Surely, RIM has refreshed the Music Player icons, but that’s basically all they did. It’s still pretty conservatively styled, but most of the functionality has been there since BlackBerry OS 5.

There’s quick searching of tracks and automatic sorting by artist, album and genre. Creating custom playlists is also supported.

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Browsing your tracks in the music player

Album art is on the list of included features too, along with equalizer presets and the single track repeat option.

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The now playing screen and the available settings

Quite naturally, the player can also be minimized to play in the background. You can then go back to it via the task manager or the main menu. Pausing it by hitting the mute button is also possible, but unfortunately, there's no indication of the currently playing song on the home screen.

Rich video codec support

We admire the whole OS 7 lineup for its video-playing capabilities and the Curve 9380 is no exception.

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The video player interface is almost identical to the music player

The 3.2" screen is perhaps big enough for decent video consumption. The video player's interface might not be too impressive, but the functionality is mostly there.

There are the usual playback controls when you hit a key or tap on the screen plus a dedicated fit/zoom to screen one.

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The video playback screen and some of the available options

The Curve 9380 video player promises to support DivX, XviD, H.264/MPEG-4 and WMV videos up to 720p resolution. It did manage to play all of the DivX files we threw at it, WMV, MOV and MP4 files up to 720p were no problem either, but the XviD ones didn’t go that easy. Some of the files were OK, while others where just incompatible. It seems it's either the bitrate or audio codec that were to blame, but whatever it is, we won't count on that XviD support much if we were you.

The general performance here is decent, which is probably more than most BlackBerry users will ever need.

Poor audio output

Here's a quick, but unfortunate advice for you - if you want a smartphone with good audio output stay clear of the BlackBerry Curve 9380.

The RIM smartphone did quite uninspiringly in the first part of our test - when connected to an active external amplifier. So if you are using it with your home stereo or car audio you will get decent noise levels, dynamic range and limited stereo crosstalk, but imperfect frequency response and above average intermodulation distortion.

But as soon as you plug in a pair of headphones in this one, things are really starting to look grim. Distortion levels go through the roof and so does stereo crosstalk. At the end, you are stuck with an output that's quite far of the source signal and that is unacceptable for a modern-day smartphone.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
BlackBerry Curve 9380+0.09, -1.07-85.884.90.00560.150-80.3
BlackBerry Curve 9380 (headphones attached)+0.11, -1.04-86.385.29.0483.496-41.0
BlackBerry Curve 9360+0.09, -1.08-85.984.20.00620.189-82.1
BlackBerry Curve 9360 (headphones attached)+0.12, -0.98-85.684.00.3390.298-38.0
BlackBerry Torch 9860+0.14, -0.62-86.888.20.0110.110-86.5
BlackBerry Torch 9860(headphones attached)+0.15, -0.57-86.788.30.0190.169-36.8
BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900+0.46, -2.47-86.387.70.0120.126-81.2
BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900(headphones attached)+0.86, -2.54-
BlackBerry Bold 9780+0.26, -3.61-89.787.90.0120.021-89.4
BlackBerry Bold 9780 (headphones attached)+0.24, -4.87-89.587.50.00930.271-55.9
Apple iPhone 4+0.01, -0.07-
Apple iPhone 4 (headphones attached)+0.01, -0.07-90.490.40.00360.092-68.4

BlackBerry Curve 9380
BlackBerry Curve 9380 frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.

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