Having forgone the touchscreen route, the BlackBerry Curve 3G shares little in common with many mid-range Android phones like the HTC Wildfire and Sony Ericsson X10 Mini – at least in terms of hardware.

Many will prefer the candybar-like keyboard positioning, preferring it to the slide-out QWERTYs found on the Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro and LG GW620.

BlackBerry curve 3g

In terms of apps, the BlackBerry Curve 3G can't really compete with the likes of the iPhone and Android handsets like the HTC Legend. Quite aside from the issues of stock, the hardware lacks the additional functionality – like a gyroscope, a high-res screen or a touchscreen – that often make or break a good app.

However, it's at least on a par with the Nokia E72 that features a similar hardware layout and uses the Ovi Store's stock of applications.

Because of the BlackBerry Curve 3G's looks, it's all too easy to compare it to the BlackBerry Bold 9700. But these comparisons are unfair, as the lower-spec BlackBerry Curve 3G will always come off worse.

There's no camera flash, a lower-res screen, less powerful processing power and a lower-quality keyboard.

Still, the Curve 3G retains many of the great features we loved on the BlackBerry Bold 9700. Its design is svelte and attractive, the optical trackpad is incredibly (sometimes a little too) responsive and both handsets will enjoy the benefits of BlackBerry OS 6 when it's released in a few months.

BlackBerry curve 3g

But forget looks – the BlackBerry Curve 3G is very much a Curve handset. Low-cost materials and build place it squarely in the Curve range, even though we prefer the more grown up, slimmer looks of the Curve 3G, compared to earlier iterations like the BlackBerry Curve 8900.

To be honest, there's not a great deal between the Curve 3G and its range-mates – the main difference is its connectivity, and the 3G is a real boon.

The BlackBerry Curve 3G's physical QWERTY keyboard is great for text-happy users, and this is what will set it apart from other budget social networkers like the HTC Wildfire and Samsung Monte.

BlackBerry curve 3g

Having said that, if you've used a touchscreen in the past, you may find yourself missing the additional app functionality and multi-touch web-browsing that's present on most higher-end Android smartphones like the HTC Wildfire and HTC Legend, as well as the iPhone 3G and all its more recent iterations.