The BlackBerry Curve 8520 is not going to wow you with its features or by having some of the latest and greatest widgets bolted on, but as a solid smartphone that should meet all the most common needs of today's office worker RIM has done an excellent job with this phone at a price point that should please a lot of budgets.
Price; complete smartphone functionality; display.
Feels cheap and plasticky; web browsing; lack of 3G and GPS.
£ 199.95 on PAYG
For many years BlackBerry held the position as the de-facto enterprise handset, thanks largely to its superb email functionality and management features.
In recent months this situation has changed, driven by the demand from workers wanting to use other – often personal – smartphones to send and receive business email, and access enterprise network applications and services.
As a result Research in Motion (RIM) has gone a long way to try and make the BlackBerry more consumer friendly by adding features such as multimedia support, the BlackBerry Internet Server and recently BlackBerry App World.
The BlackBerry 8520 – the latest addition to the Curve family – continues this trend by adding a much more affordable device to the family.
The 8520 keeps with the Curve's basic candybar design with a full Qwerty keyboard, but the familiar rollerball has been replaced with an optical trackpad. Those familiar with the rollerball should have no problem getting used to the trackpad because it works by sliding your finger over the sensor. It is pretty intuitive and even new users should not have much problem getting the hang of navigating with it.
It has to be said that the case itself does feel quite cheap and plasticky, but thankfully it is still very sturdy and should stand up to the rigours of everyday life without disintegrating.
Similarly, the keyboard does not feel quite as high quality as that on the Bold, but the keys are still quite tactile and typing at speed is pretty easy, even for those with slightly larger hands.
Although not particularly large, the 2.46in 320x240 screen is pretty impressive, with bright colours and good clarity so reading emails and updating social networks certainly will not be a problem and even viewing video is pr etty reasonable – hindered more by the size rather than the quality of the display.
Speaking of multimedia, the 8520 also includes a row of media control keys along the top of the phone allowing users to play, pause, skip and mute music and video. There are also volume controls and two customisable keys on the sides of the phone, all of which are housed under a sleek looking rubberised coating.
On the side there is also a 3.5mm audio jack and an increasingly common micro-USB connector for charging and data transfer.
The 8520 sports a 2-megapixel camera on the back, which takes pretty reasonable shots given the specification, but the lack of flash means that low light conditions render it almost useless.
While the 8520 does support Wi-Fi 802.11 and full Bluetooth 2.0, there is no integrated GPS and more noticeably no 3G either. While the majority of today's smartphones include both of these, many users may find themselves happy to get by on Edge data and Wi-Fi hotspots.