Blackberry Curve 8520 Review: Released back in 2009, the Curve 8520 represented a slight change of tack from RIM. The Curve released the previous year was the Blackberry Curve 8900 and was a high-end handset. But here we see the Curve series taking a bit of a step back, and the Bold series becoming the higher-spec one.
The Curve 8520 is more value-orientated, and for good reason too. The user-base of these Blackberry models changed rapidly over the previous few years. Prior to this it was seen almost exclusively as a business phone. The QWERTY keypad allowed long messages to be typed. But quickly this usage had spread to younger users. The advent of Blackberry Messenger quickly gained a secondary usage. The app at the time was ahead of that of WhatsApp and there was an important network effect. Messages could only be sent to other Blackberry users. This further strengthened the case for users to get a Blackberry phone.
The Curve 8520 lost much in the technical specs. It had a lower resolution screen and a lower resolution camera. It also lost the GPS and maps functions. But it gained some features that made it more attractive to the younger user. It had music shortcut keys and came with an optical trackpad for easier browsing. Most importantly, it also came in at a lower price.
This was an amazingly popular phone. A sister phone of sorts was released a few months later. The Blackberry Curve 8530 was identical in design and spec but restored the GPS feature. It probably took another two years for the real successors to be launched. The Blackberry Curve 9-series came in a few variants but all were a major upgrade.
Blackberry Curve 8520 Review Pros:
The optical trackpad was a major improvement over the rollerball function (which itself was an improvement over the D-pad). Navigation was quick and easy.
Media capability was top-notch on the phone. A wide variety of audio and video files could be played. The phone featured physical music player buttons, and also came with a microSD card slot.
The Blackberry OS at the time was a plus. Blackberry Messenger offered a messaging service superior to that of other phones. The keyboard also made it much easier to type long messages.
The entry price for the model was perhaps the cheapest seen for a Blackberry device. Aimed at a younger market, it was entirely possible to buy one without contract.
Blackberry Curve 8520 Review Cons:
Corners were cut to allow for the lower price. The camera will perhaps be the biggest disappointment to the younger user. At 2MP and no flash, this was below the competition.
Despite the improved audio, the phone lacked an FM Radio tuner. This would surely have been very easy to implement.
The phone also lacked a 3G/GPS connections. Whilst the phone has Wi-Fi, the slow connection limits outdoor data usage. But then again, this is perhaps not a real business phone.
Future Prospects and Current Pricing
Blackberry phones are pretty redundant nowadays with support being withdrawn for the operating system. Still, the 8520 should be remembered fondly. It can be picked up extremely cheaply and is available in large numbers.
Where can I get one?
Interested in more phones? See a list of phones I own here.