The BlackBerry Curve 9380 is very much a product of a union between the BlackBerry Curve 9360 and the BlackBerry Torch 9860. It's the pared-back specs of the former with the touch-focused ethos of the latter.
The handset is light without feeling too cheap, and can be perfectly slick and responsive. The idea is spot-on.
But the BlackBerry Curve 9380 is forever hamstrung by the fact that RIM is simply a couple of steps behind the likes of the iPhone 4S, HTC Sensation XE or Samsung Galaxy Nexus when it comes to the more thoughtful, intricate parts of being a touchscreen device.
Where Android has been ruthless in cutting out the less touch-friendly parts of the OS that we saw in it years ago, RIM has just tried to fit touchscreen capabilities into what it already had, to avoid rocking the boat. The BlackBerry Curve 9380 is stuck with one hand tied behind its back.
The BlackBerry Curve 9380 is gloriously comfortable, and you wouldn't worry about dropping it - it seems like it'd bounce and get a bit of a nick, rather than shatter on the floor. It looks good, too - like a modern smartphone, but undeniably BlackBerry.
For a handset lacking horsepower (relatively), it can be quite slick and pleasant to use. We like BlackBerry OS 7's Home screen system, and the social networking integration is well thought out and appealing.
The media functions are good for a mid-range mobile phone, as well. They're easy to use, and videos look good, despite the screen's low resolution.
When it comes to interfaces that are intended to be all-touch, BlackBerry OS just isn't there yet.
Old interface elements bleed through every so often - there's that ridiculous autocorrect issue with the password field, social integration that's great in places but seemingly pointless in others, the touch responsiveness went completely nuts for a day for us… there are both small and big issues all over the place.
We still don't like RIM's touchscreen keyboard, either, although we found it marginally easier here than in the Torch 9860.
And while we don't blame RIM for putting a lower-end CPU in the BlackBerry Curve 9380, and we can forgive the occasional performance lags that that causes, the low-resolution screen is a little disappointing. Surely RIM could have used the 480 x 640 screen from the Torch 9810 here?
There's definitely the potential within the BlackBerry Curve 9380 for it to be a good smartphone, and for many BlackBerry addicts on a budget, hungry for some touchscreen action, it could serve well.
Frankly, we'd rather have the BlackBerry Curve 9360 within the BlackBerry range, but if it's a touchscreen phone you want in this price bracket, we'd go for the iPhone 3GS, thanks to its slicker operating system.
If you can stretch to a few more pounds per month on a contract, though, you'll find all manner of Android phones with vastly improved specs over the Curve, and a more mature operating system.
Although the BlackBerry Curve 9380 has much to commend it, we don't think it's the best option in its price range, and for only a little more money, you could get much more handset.