RIM has taken note of the consumer demand for inexpensive messaging phones and delivered several devices that bridge business and consumer worlds. Its latest budget offering is the BlackBerry Curve 8520 that boasts social network access and a full Qwerty keypad.
What we like
It’s not the most advanced social networking-centric phone we’ve seen but it does give you access to Facebook and Twitter, among others, and packs email and instant messaging too. If you like to stay connected but don’t want to pay a high price for it, then the 8520 does deliver.
It’s not as sexy as the BlackBerry Bold but not as flimsy feeling as the original Pearl, for example. The Curve’s screen is bright and sharp, and audio is loud and clear through the speakers and headphones. We’re glad to say there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can use your own cans.
Aside from the good audio experience, the music offering is made better by the addition of dedicated music keys at the top of the 8520 that allow you to play and pause tracks, or go forwards or backwards — even if the 8520 is in your pocket.
After a bumpy start RIM’s BlackBerry App World is starting to look a lot better and using the 8520’s Wi-Fi you can download apps with relative ease. We downloaded Viigo, one of our favourite BlackBerry apps, and the process was relatively smooth.
What we don’t like
It’s annoying that there’s no 3G or GPS but we understand RIM wanted to keep costs low so that retailers could sell the 8520 for less. That said, we’d love to see a future version boast a bit more oomph as downloading content on the go is a lot more enjoyable when you’re rocking 3G.
Instead of a trackball RIM added a touch-sensitive trackpad to the 8520 that apparently you get used to after a while — we didn’t. It sounds cool but it’s annoying to use in our opinion. Bring back the ball please, it might be a bit old now but it works really well and that’s what counts.
While the 8520’s music offering is great its camera offering is just ok. Its 2-megapixel camera doesn’t take amazing pics and there’s no flash. We also found the 8520’s keypad a little smaller and tougher to press than we’d like. The keys on the keypad feel tight and we could have done with more space.
This isn’t a high-end phone and it suffers in certain areas but it does deliver when it comes to email, instant messaging and basic social networking. We were impressed by the music offering and we like that it’s not as expensive as other BlackBerries but the lack of 3G is a bit of a turn off.