BlackBerry’s latest offering in the 8520 Curve is going to give all the other business handsets a serious run for their money, including the other BlackBerrys. It may lack 3G but fares quite well without.
Keeping in tune with ALL the new BlackBerrys that made it out recently, except of course the Storm, the 8520 is a neat little handset. It’s smaller than the others and, kinda cute in a way. What pains me is that the 2.6-inch display has a resolution of 320 x 240, which is quite mundane. Then again what can you expect considering it's one of the cheaper models, but having reviewed the higher-end models that just happen to look quite like this one, the display sort of stands out like a pimple on the tip of a nose. You’ll get used to it especially if you’re upgrading from any other handset with a resolution like that.
Instead of the ‘standard’ trackball or ‘Pearl’, RIM has decided to go with a Touch-sensitive optical trackpad. The sensitivity is just right and after just a little while navigation becomes extremely simple. The full QWERTY keypad may seem a little squashed but believe me it’s easy to use. What makes the handset even more appealing are the media keys on the top and the 3.5mm earphone socket on the side. Other keys on the sides include volume/zoom keys, a shortcut to the voice dialing feature and a micro USB slot for the charger and PC connectivity. The hot swap slot for the microSD card is under the rear panel.
I like the handset. It's light weight, simple to use and comes with a 2GB card as well as a rubber protective case.
Features and Performance
Running the typical BlackBerry OS, the handset has all the trimmings of any of the BlackBerry handsets, which is definitely a good thing. Shortcuts can be assigned to the desktop and the main menu systems and icons are easy enough to maneuver through. On the whole the system is smooth thanks to the 512MHz processor and as I mentioned using the trackpad works out really well.
As usual the BlackBerry music player worked without a hitch. Audio quality is great. The volume is loud enough to keep the outside world at bay and the bundled handsfree is comfortable enough to use so you won’t really need to invest in another, but you have the option and that’s great. It also has plenty of EQ presets to help enhance the audio.
The 8520 supports quite a few standard video formats so you can enjoy movies without having to worry about too much conversion. Of course the resolution isn’t as great as the 8900 or the Bold 9000 but it works. An FM radio would have been a great addition to the features set but you might not miss it, there’s plenty of other stuff.
The 8520 is great when it comes to connectivity sans 3G which is the only chink in its armor so to speak. Aside from support for Enterprise, which is what it’s designed for via a sync with a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) you’ll have to get your BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) activated. Downloading your office emails won’t be a problem. There’s also support for regular IMAP or POP3 accounts as well. The lack of Flash support in the browser is still an issue, at least with me, but the overall experience is still great especially with the new optical track-pad again.
Other connectivity options include EDGE/GPRS support as well as Wi-Fi for the internet. Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP for stereo Bluetooth connectivity is very handy for much better audio experience for both calls and music.
BlackBerry has also included a Facebook application for those who love their social networking as well as chat applications like GTalk, Yahoo! and BlackBerry's own messenger. It lacks GPS yet it comes with a BlackBerry Maps application. Honestly I didn’t miss it and didn’t expect it so no big deal.
There are plenty of regular features present for all standard purposes like a Scheduler in the calendar, an Alarm Clock, Calculator, Task List, Memo Pad, Password Keeper, Encryption services, Zip services and even a stand alone Voice Recorder. The DataViz's Documents to Go feature is also available but it’s only sorted for reading and editing existing Word, Excel, PPT files but not creating new documents. A PDF reader is still not part of the deal though you can still view these files via the browser as an attachment. There are quite a few games included with the 8520 as well.
The 8520 is equipped with a 2 megapixel camera that shoots video as well. The features are quite standard and that’s not a bad thing. Those features include just White Balance and a few color effects.
Images look quite good on the whole. Even indoor shots are not bad.
One of the 8520’s better features is its battery life. It can dish out a very comfortable 4 hours of talk time (average). With a single charge you’ll have no issues using the handset to its fullest capabilities for at least a day and a half and more before the battery cries out in anguish and dies on you.
The Bottom Line
With a price tag of Rs. 15,990 (MRP all India) and Rs. 16,990 (MRP Maharashtra) through Airtel, the Curve 8520 is stirring things up in the mid range business mobile segment. It offers quite a lot for the price and manages to deliver quite well on the same. Of course there are other options but this is one of the top on the list. But do remember it’s a BlackBerry and does cater to a bit of niche segment, then again with this pricing, it seems like RIM has just turned things around.