BlackBerry Curve 8520 in-depth review -

Look and feel

The BlackBerry Curve 8520 is a slim, stylish handset with a QWERTY keypad and optical trackpad. Although it is compact, it was comfortable to type on.

Ease of use

Marketed as an ‘entry-level’ BlackBerry it offers a great introduction to the world of smartphones and the many functions they have to offer, without being intimidating.

Features

Although it lacks 3G data speeds and GPS, the features are still impressive for a low-end smartphone, and it has excellent email functions.

Performance

The latest edition to the Curve family performed remarkably well. The optical trackpad may alarm the BlackBerry faithfuls, but we found no cause for complaint.

Battery life

Battery life was average.

The verdict

A great introduction into the world of BlackBerrys, and one that is sure to appeal to a younger audience.

 BlackBerry Curve 8520 Review -
4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:55:58 PM

8

out of 10

Performance

8

out of 5

Look and feel

8

out of 5

Ease of use

6

out of 5

Features

6

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Despite its svelte appearance, the QWERTY keypad will appeal to regular texters and emailers.

Cons:

We still await a camera on a BlackBerry that can be described as being ?above average?.

BlackBerry handsets have come a long way since they came with an obligatory suit and corporate sounding job title. They’ve certainly been helped along by unofficial celebrity endorsements – both Daniel Craig and even Barack Obama are known to be avid fans – but one market has evaded them. Until now, that is. The BlackBerry Curve 8520 has been described by some as being a ‘my first BlackBerry’, an introduction into the smartphone range. However, don’t let its entry-level status misguide you. It may be missing some integral features of more advanced BlackBerry’s – there’s no 3G or GPS – but we fell for the 8520 almost straight away.

Slim waistline

As part of the Curve range, the 8520 centres around a full QWERTY keyboard – the antithesis of the never-ending conveyor belt of touch-screen devices. The keys are well raised and while the keyboard is quite condensed, we found the double thumbed texting method easy to grasp. The compact nature of the keypad means RIM has managed to keep the 8520’s waistline to a minimum. It’s not quite as slim as the 8900 Curve, but we are talking fractions of a millimetre.

Above the keypad are the standard call, menu key, back key and call end key. It diverts from the norm in the fact that the screen protector encompasses both the display and these keys. As such, these four keys are completely flat, but rather than be touch-responsive they do require a degree of pressure to activate them. However, it’s what sits between these keys that is going to grab the most headlines.

Optical trackpad

RIM’s trackball navigational system has become iconic for all BlackBerrys over the years – bar the manufacturer’s flirtation with the touch-screen world with its Storm. So much so, that when we tell you that the 8520 has replaced it, we can almost see the BlackBerry faithful grimacing. We did too. Thankfully, the optical navigational trackpad that takes pride of place in the middle of the phone is a worthy replacement. It’s touch-sensitive and works in much the some way as the bottom of a PC mouse. You can also alter the sensitivity levels – we found the higher levels a little too responsive, whereas level 50 was the most comfortable.

Although there’s no 3G on the 8520, RIM has included on-board Wi-Fi so you’ll still be able to enjoy rapid web browsing as long as you find yourself in a hotspot. Getting a Wi-Fi fix was immediate and as with previous models, should you leave that hotspot and re-enter it, the 8520 will automatically log you back on.

The Curve 8520 is kitted out with some decent media functions. On the top of the handset are three media controls; skip back, play/pause and skip forward, while the left hand side houses a 3.5mm headset port. One gripe is the sub-standard 256MB of on-board memory, but at least this is compensated slightly by the inclusion of a 2GB memory card.


The two-megapixel camera is never going to win any awards – we’re still waiting for an above average snapper from RIM – but the fact that you can upload your pics directly to Facebook, Flickr and MySpace is sure to go down well with the social networking community.

Conclusion

It may not have the specs of some of its bigger brothers, but RIM achieves exactly what it set out to do with this entry-level BlackBerry. It feels good in the hand, is easy to navigate and, as has become custom with BlackBerry handsets, excels at email. The youth of today have never had it so good.