The BlackBerry Curve 8520 is the entry model in the exalted range, and while prices are excellent there are many people who – if trading up from a smartphone of any ilk – will miss the functionality of their former handset. The advantage of the full keyboard is, however, a major attraction, but does it overcome the 8520’s drawbacks?

Is it good looking?

First things first this is BlackBerry; it is designed not for great looks but for function. Nevertheless, the typical and instantly recognizable BlackBerry low and wide look is there, the keyboard is the dominant feature and the screen is disappointingly small. However, you are not buying this for playing games or entertainment value, but for the BlackBerry features that make it what it is.
It is a nice handset to handle with a robust feel that smacks of quality and is also surprisingly thin; perfect, in fact, for slipping in the pocket of a business suit, something that will happen often given its purpose.

Why do I want one?

BlackBerry is famed for its excellent push e-mail capability and even the basic 8520 Curve does not disappoint. Keeping in touch is simple and the system is finely tuned, and with the full keyboard typing mails and texts is as simple as can be. However, many reviewers have pointed to the relatively small price difference between this model and the more up market 8900, and when all is taken into account there does seem to be a conflict between the two models.
Where the 8520 wins fans is in its relative simplicity when compared to some rivals, but equally so it loses them with poor internet browsing capability and some other potential drawbacks.

Why don’t I want one?

If you browse on a mobile you don’t want this phone; a lack of 3G and reliance on GPRS may not be a problem to those who simply want to use it for email and messages but presents a serious disappointment for anyone who wants quick internet access. Also, this is not a phone that is designed for entertainment value and, as a result, the very basic two megapixel camera will be a distinct disappointment. It works, and takes reasonable snaps, but in anything but the every best light it is deeply flawed. On the other hand the music system is actually perfectly adequate and performs well, and you do get Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in, plus some useful document readers and more.

Talk time of 4.5 hours is not great and we have found that using Wi-Fi saps the battery very quickly, but this is a phone designed for those who use it in the day and charge up during the night.

I’m in two minds

That is no surprise as the BlackBerry 8520 Curve is a strange beast; on the one hand an excellent phone that offers an introduction to the BlackBerry at a budget price and on the other a handset that cannot hold a candle to a similarly priced smartphone like the HTC Wildfire, it has to be a personal choice. We scored it 3.5/5 as it does a decent job if that’s what you want.