RIM's (Research In Motion) BlackBerry has changed the way corporate users interact with their phones, with more and more people using them for email and office tasks, rather than for their phone functionality. The latest device, the Curve 8310 (free on contract) is an evolution of the handset, offering a few more features, a subtly different style and the same usability as previous BlackBerrys.

Finished in grey and black, the edges of the 8310 are made from a rubber-like plastic. In addition to adding style, we also found it tactile, easier to grip and robust.

As with previous models, the wide display is ideal for reading documents and webpages. It measures 2.5-inches, and features an ambient light sensor, dimming it in darker conditions to save on battery life. Under regular use, we found the Curve lasted for a couple of days between charges.

Ease of use

Under the screen, you'll find similar navigation buttons to the BlackBerry Pearl, with an easy-to-use and accurate roller-ball, flanked by menu and back buttons. The QWERTY keypad offers well-spaced keys that move with a reassuring click sound, letting you know your actions have registered. Secondary buttons are highlighted in black, and are easily activated by pressing the function key.

As with all BlackBerrys, the Curve excels when it comes to email, being one of the easiest devices to set up. It's possible to configure up to ten email accounts.

Web browsing isn't as fast as on some rivals, as the 8310 doesn't use 3G/HSDPA. There's also no Wi-Fi. However, with support for EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution), we still found pages loaded relatively quickly.

Features

This device is crammed with features, making it a viable replacement for your regular phone. Despite the small size, there's an integrated GPS chip, so you'll be able to use it as a satellite navigation tool.

Google Maps are pre-installed, and our Vodafone-based handset also offered Telmap navigation software.

There's also a 2-megapixel camera in place, with an integrated flash. We found quality was reasonable, and there's a dedicated shutter button on the side of the body. There's also an easy-to-control music and video application, letting you use the 8310 as a portable media player. To this end, the built-in 64MB of Flash memory may appear slightly restrictive, but there's also a Micro-SD card reader, letting you add a further 2GB of storage.

Aside from the lack of 3G and Wi-Fi, there's little to criticise here. The BlackBerry Curve 8310 is compact, stylish and offers plenty of features.