As an entry-level smartphone, the Curve 8520 lacks some of the bells and whistles of the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900, such as GPS and a high-resolution screen, but it delivers on the core features and offers great performance. In addition, the smartphone features a sleek design that includes a new optical trackpad and dedicated media controls. That said, T-Mobile's price of $129.99 (with a two-year contract) isn't the most compelling, especially when you consider that for $20 more you can get the extra features of the Curve 8900. However, Wal-Mart is offering the BlackBerry Curve 8520 for just $48.88 with a two-year new agreement or qualified upgrade, which makes it quite a steal. Hopefully, T-Mobile will reconsider its pricing but for now, if you can get yourself to a Wal-Mart, the Curve 8520 is a great device for first-time smartphone buyers.
Last but not least, we have the Curve 8520's full QWERTY keyboard. It's largely similar to the 8900's; the buttons are slightly smaller and packed close together, so users with larger fingers might have some problem. However, we were able to find our groove after a while and could easily type messages. The number keys share space with letters on the left side, though they're not as easy to spot at a glance since the charcoal gray buttons don't stand out against the black keyboard whereas the 8900 highlighted them in white.
FeaturesAs an entry-level device, the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8520 isn't quite as full featured as the BlackBerry Curve 8900 or the T-Mobile Dash 3G. It lacks 3G support and GPS but still delivers on the core functionalities. We'll start with the most basic and important of them all: the phone capabilities.
The Curve 8520 is quite a snappy device, and we didn't encounter any problems during our review period. Though the smartphone only supports EDGE speeds, the Web browsing experience wasn't too painful (the Curve's HTML Web browser is another story and could use some work in the navigation department). CNET's full site loaded in 55 seconds while CNN's mobile site loaded in 7 seconds and ESPN Mobile came up in 17 seconds. Getting apps over the network required a little more patience as the 1.5MB Slacker Radio app took 3 minutes and 30 seconds to download. 2b1af7f3a8