IN A NUTSHELLDescribed by RIM as being 'my first BlackBerry', the Curve 8520 aims to introduce all that is great about BlackBerry's to an audience who may be unfamiliar with them to date. As an entry-level phone, the Curve 8520 has been stripped of both 3G and GPS, but there's still plenty to laud at including the familiar QWERTY keyboard and a new optical trackpad.
CAMERARIM has never been known for its photographic prowess, and the Curve 8520's two-megapixel camera is nothing more than satisfactory. However, the fact that you can upload pics directly to Facebook, Flickr and MySpace will go down well with the social networking community.
HOW IT PLAYSDespite the fact that it packs a full QWERTY keyboard, the Curve 8520 is impressively svelte and fits well in both your pocket and palm. While the keys are in close proximity to each other they are raised enough to remain finger friendly for those rapid text and emails. The optical trackpad may be a step away from the norm for the BlackBerry faithful, but it's both reliable and tactile.
CONNECTIVTYWhile social netowrkers may lambast the lack of 3G and HSDPA, it's important to remember that the BlackBerry Curve 8520 is an entry-level phone, and the fact that it does pack Wi-Fi should appease most. There's no onboard GPS, so when using BlackBerry Maps you'll have to rely on a process of triangulation that guestimates your position rather than pinpointing it.
WHAT ELSESporting three media controls on the top of the phone as well as the much sought after 3.5mm headset port on the left side of the device, the BlackBerry Curve 8520 is media savvy. While the 256MB of onboard memory is miserly, we're pacified slightly by the inclusion of a 2GB memory card.
IN A NUTSHELLWith both a touch-screen and a full slide-out QWERTY keyboard, LG has billed their GW520 as being an "affordable" option for the social networker. With the manufacturer's LiveSquare screen that symbolises your most used contacts with animated avatars, there's a Facebook widget providing direct access to your profile there's also the added bonus of receiving the likes of your Hotmail and Yahoo emails via 'push'.
CAMERAThe LG GW520 packs a 3.15-megapixel camera but both a flash and autofocus are lacking. The resulting photos didn't blow us away, especially in low light conditions, though you can upload pictures direct to a blog with the aid of the Blogging application.
HOW IT PLAYSThe touch-screen packs a haptic response providing a short vibration each time you press an icon. Sadly the touch-screen feels low-end especially when compared to LG's big hitters such as the Arena or Viewty, with finger swipes proving particularly unreliable. Thankfully the QWERTY keyboard makes up for the GW520's shortcomings. Once slid open multiple thumb presses relates to quick and accurate key presses with each button spaced out enough to accommodate even the heavier handed among us.
CONNECTIVITYDespite its entry-level status, HSPDA means internet and of course access to social networks is a rapid experience. There's no Wi-Fi or GPS for navigation, but we weren't left twiddling our thumbs as we were with the GW520's predecessor, the LG KS360.
WHAT ELSEBearing in mind that you will be charged each time you retrieve your emails, users can program how often it is pushed to their phone, with the shortest time frame being 15 minutes. There's no 3.5mm headset jack and the very poor offering of 40MB is not even compensated for by the inclusion of memory card - though the phone will support up to 16GB.
On paper you'd be forgiven for expecting the LG GW520 to win this battle of the entry-level social networking phones. What with the inclusion of HSDPA and the abiltity to push email from more consumer friendly accounts such as Hotmail and Yahoo. However, the overall user experience of the BlackBerry Curve 8520 far surpassed LG's offering and we preferred the overall design. RIM may have struck a masterstoke here by giving a new generation a little taste of the BlackBerry experience.