With users rushing to denounce BlackBerry and announce they'll leave the platform, RIM really needs to pull a belter out of the bag to put the horrors of 2011 behind it.

Which is where the BlackBerry Curve 9360 comes in. The range has long been one of BlackBerry's most popular - affordable, but not cheap; sleek, but not too flash. And the bestselling Curve 9300 has now been updated to give even more bang for the buck. 3G, GPS, NFC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and, of course, BBM are all here and accounted for.

BlackBerry curve 9360 review

The first thing you notice is just how thin this smartphone is. The Curve 9360 feels almost like it's not completely finished, as though you're holding a dummy unit in a shop. It's only 11mm thick, and light as a feather at 99g. It also has precise edges - not enough to cut you, but it certainly gives that impression.

Made of a combination of brushed metal and black plastic, this is one good-looking handset, and measuring just 109 x 60mm, it's a great size.

BlackBerry curve 9360

Up top you have the standard 3.5mm headphone jack and a lock button that's not touch sensitive, although we did wonder about this, since you don't actually press it in far enough to be noticeable to lock and unlock the screen.

BlackBerry curve 9360 review

The left-hand side has the micro USB charging/syncing port, while the right has both a volume rocker (with middle shortcut button) and convenience key. It's typical BlackBerry fare.

BlackBerry curve 9360

The back houses the 5MP camera lens on one side, while the LED light for taking snaps is at the other end. We missed having a flash on the Curve 9300, so it's really good to see it back here.

BlackBerry curve 9360 review

The battery door is made of a high gloss plastic that looks like it'll scratch to high heaven given half a chance, and rests just above the speaker.

BlackBerry curve 9360 review

This battery cover's not easy to get off - and that's being kind. In the absence of an instruction manual with our review unit, we sat there patiently trying to get it off for what felt like an eternity, and could find no obvious way to do it. We eventually had to force it open and closed just to get a SIM and MicroSD card inside.

BlackBerry curve 9360 review

Around the front, you'll find the compact QWERTY keyboard, optical track pad and four BlackBerry shortcut keys. They appear to be fused to the bottom of the screen but they're not touch-sensitive and give a nice, satisfying click as you push them in.

The 2.44-inch screen itself has a 480 x 360 resolution and really looks like a quality display. RIM hasn't cut corners here.

BlackBerry curve 9360

Within the BlackBerry range, the Curve 9360 will be mainly competing against its predecessor, the 9300 3G. And the Curve 9360 is also due to be released in white on the Orange network soon, so prepare for a little sibling rivalry there too.

Looking further afield, we'd pit it against the Samsung Galaxy S rather than the Galaxy S2, or against the Apple iPhone 3GS rather than the iPhone 4S in terms of what you're getting for your money. But it's an uneasy comparison, because both the Samsung Galaxy S and iPhone 3GS have touch screens, whereas the BlackBerry 9360 does not.

BlackBerry curve 9360 review

It's aimed squarely at those who are either on a budget and want a BlackBerry but without the size/price tag of the excellent Bold 9900, or those who are slightly younger. This is a model we can see in the clutches of many a teenager over the next few months, and with its reasonable price tag - £280 SIM-free or free on a £25 per month contract - it's likely to fit that mould perfectly.