I'm getting a BlackBerry Curve 8520…

by Vikki Chowney on 5th August 2009

…but only on trial.

You see, after a massive scheduling FAIL from yours truly, I missed the BlackBerry Curve 8520 launch yesterday. However, after being released in the US and Canada (then simultaneously in India), Research In Motion (RIM) has formally introduced its new handset to the UK market.

The 8520 in... black

The 8520 in... black

The 8520 is a slightly cheaper, lighter (106 grams to be precise) alternative to the more expensive BlackBerry Curve 8900 – sometimes referred to as the ‘Javelin’ – that was launched recently. You get the same impressive email messaging (IM, SMS, MMS) and social networking functionalities, as well as full QWERTY keyboard. There’s multimedia a plenty in the form of support for iTunes and Windows Media Player, as well as a 3.5mm jack (which I’m always a fan of).

WiFi-enabled (a key component given the absence of 3G), this handset is the first to include a touch-sensitive trackpad, which bodes well for a good navigation experience (but we’ll see). That, of course, means no trackball either.

The screen is 2.4 inches wide with 65k colours (measly in comparison to the N97, with a whopping 16 million), but comes with 256MB Flash memory as standard and a decent 512Mhz CPU.

It also features ‘dedicated media keys, smoothly integrated along the top of the handset’. Again, I’ve only seen pictures, but this sounds promising as you can play/pause and skip music or video without needing to trawl through the main menu. I have to say, one of the only things that annoys me about my much-loved N95 is the strange placement of the same buttons.

There’s not too much to write home about on the camera front; 2MG camera with support for video is a good effort, but so many of this handset’s perceived target market rely on their phone to take photos. I’m just not sure if this measures up. No GPS either, which is a shame.

Shipping in August, there’s a distinct air of this being pitched towards a younger, female audience. Positioning the handset as ‘approachable’ and making its range of colours (I honestly didn’t know that Blackberry used anything other than black) *so* prominent seems to support this.

But then, with The Carphone Warehouse as an exclusive supplier, that comes as no surprise.

It’ll be available free of charge on a £25 a month contract, with free email, 500 texts and 600 minutes, or for £199.95 on PAYG – both from Orange. For this price (given that the features above work as promised), it’s a nice little handset. I doubt it’ll change the face of the mobile industry, but it’s a nice introduction to what BlackBerry can do.

At the same time, RIM have announced an update to BlackBerry’s App World, as version 1.1 comes in five languages (English, French, Italian, German, Spanish) and has been extended to become available for download in Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Ireland, Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal and the Channel Islands. Phew.

There’s also improved search, which allows you to view by age, rating, price, developer or name of app. You can also archive and reinstall your purchases whenever you like. I’ll give it a proper trial on camera next week, but I’m still not convinced that the PayPal payment methods will live up to the Apple Store’s ease of purchase, though the staged launch may have prevented some of the problems seen by Ovi recently.

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