First Looks: BlackBerry Curve 8520

Business with Pleasure

Business with Pleasure

Research in Motion is trying very hard. While it did hit a goldmine in 2008 with the BlackBerry Bold, its subsequent offering such as the BlackBerry Storm wasn't up to our expectations. The Canadian company is still making efforts to keep the competition at bay which is why it's introducing the new BlackBerry Curve 8520.

Gone Optical

BlackBerry's form factor has generally remained consistent over the years and this is the case for the Curve 8520. The greatest draw from this Curve is its weight, measuring in at a mere 106g. And if it looked dainty in our chunky hands, imagine how good of a fit it'll be in the hands of the ladies. Alas, its QWERTY keyboard, which has always been the highlight of a BlackBerry device, let us down with its cramped style. This is made even more exasperating with raised buttons that created quite a number of mistakes in our messages.

And in an unprecedented move, we see the replacement of the trackball navigation for an optical trackpad. Here's our biggest issue: the trackpad's a pain to get used to. We tweaked with its sensitivity settings, but just couldn't find the right balance to have a smooth user experience on the 8520.

It's Still about Email

Like its bigger Curve cousin, the BlackBerry Curve 8900, the 8520 comes with Wi-Fi connectivity. If there are no Wi-Fi networks
available, you'll have to hook onto the 8520's EDGE GPRS for data connectivity. That's right, no HSDPA. The 8520 is still primarily an email-centric device, so at least you shouldn't need blazing fast speeds to get your emails pushed to the 8520.

Like many mobile phones nowadays, the Curve's secondary objective is to provide a great multimedia experience. This is aptly done with the designated multimedia buttons on the crown of the device. Though stiffer than we wished, these buttons made it easier to play multimedia on the phone. To complete the experience, the 8520 also comes with a 3.5mm audio jack, located at the device's left profile.

In terms of its audio and video delivery, the 8520 definitely passed the test. Though running on a lower resolution (320 x 240) than its more advanced cousins, the 8520 still gave a decent performance with our test video. No lag was noticed and this smooth performance was also experienced in our daily usage. Battery mileage was average, with the Curve giving up after a day of heavy web browsing and mail pushing.

Final Thoughts

The BlackBerry Curve 8520 showed itself to be a capable smartphone, as both a productivity and multimedia device. However, once we've embarked on the Bold journey, all other keyboards, including the 8520 pale in comparison. Usability has suffered, especially so with its overtly hard to use optical trackpad. But if one were to look past these obvious downsides, you'll be treated to a very affordable BlackBerry device at the price of S$558.