Device Advice: BB Curve 8520 – youth pitch from RIM

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This BlackBerry Curve is the latest in a line of affordable email devices from RIM, following the offering of the prepay Pearl models with inclusive or discounted mobile data access. The Pearl models all had the SureType keyboard; the Curve range, including this model, has the traditional QWERTY keyboard. The Curve 8520 is compact and slimline and is comfortable in the hand.

The edge of the phone is rubberised to enable a better grip on the phone and offer more protection against bumps and knocks, with various shortcut keys embedded in the rubber.

RIM has also included media control buttons for the first time to appeal to a younger market – a set of keys in a rubberised strip across the top of the device that allows users to play/pause, fast forward, rewind and skip tracks without needing to take the phone out of standby.

The familiar trackball seen on previous incarnations has been replaced by an optical trackpad, allowing users to smoothly navigate by sliding their finger in a certain direction. This works well for applications, in particular the web browser and for moving between menus.

On the back of the phone is a fixedfocus 2-megapixel camera (minus a flash) with a QVGA resolution on the front that is quite a step down from the 8900 and Bold models. The screen also has a much lower contrast, meaning films can’t be enjoyed in as much quality. But overall it makes little difference for the more everyday tasks of reading emails or surfing the net.

Email and apps
Push email is the BlackBerry smartphone’s speciality and the Curve 8520 doesn’t disappoint. BlackBerry users will appreciate the simplicity and convenience of having emails pushed directly to the device, whilst managing messages is easy thanks to the intuitive messaging application.

Most BlackBerry models are still not 3G, but this has never been an issue for the excellent email service that RIM provides. Wi-Fi can be used to increase speed, while the 8520 also retains GPS. The network the phone is connected to may decide on what specific navigation package comes on the device, or Google Maps can be used instead.

Full review in Mobile News issue 450 (October 21, 2009).

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