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The perfect starter for those being initiated into the world of
smartphones; the value-added BlackBerry data services should prove
attractive to most business users
The BlackBerry Curve 8520 is a robust entry level smartphone for those who are willing to sacrifice some features and functionality for the benefits BlackBerry brings. E-mail instantly pushed to the device, free mobile data through the BlackBerry value-added service (VAS), and a QWERTY keyboard are attractive features on the Curve 8250.
Out of the box, the device was quick to set up, as was the e-mail push feature. The construction is sturdy overall, yet the battery cover feels somewhat flimsy. The cover is removed by leveraging a fingernail against a shallow recess, and the solitary plastic clip holding it in place does not emit an essence of longevity.
When compared the Storm 9500 and the Bold 9000, the screen is the most obvious cutback, at a mere 320x240 resolution. Whilst this is fine for viewing e-mail text, media rich websites and video content begin to look a bit ugly. The viewing angle isn’t great, but then again, most people look directly at their handhelds when operating them.
The BlackBerry operating system is well designed – and does not bog down the hefty little 512MHz processor with attempts at being extravagant – providing simple functionality and multi-tasking capability that will attract most business users. The functions are cleanly laid out and overall the OS interaction feels intuitive.
The phone features a new optical trackpad – initially the sensitivity of the little square pad is a bit of a surprise, but this can be customised. In comparison to the trackball’s of previous models, the lack of tactile feedback is a bit disconcerting at first. However the trackpad will not fall victim of trackball killers like dust and pocket lint.
The QWERTY keypad is far more functional than old cell phone numpads, but may take a bit of getting used to for new users. The keys are smaller than those found on the Bold – requiring deft thumbs – and make a slightly annoying click when pressed.
In terms of the application bundle, the Curve 8250 has the usual BlackBerry suite. The built-in browser is functional but not the most pleasant to behold when compared to Apple’s mobile Safari, or Opera Mini. Synchronisation with Outlook or Google calendars is quick and easy. Business users should find the ability to view and edit Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents a plus.
There are innumerable BlackBerry specific applications available, including customised applications for everyone’s favourite e-watering holes, such as Facebook. It is certainly more pleasant interacting with these online services through a smartphone than a normal handheld; and the free data service doesn’t hurt either.
Another major drawback is no 3G technology, reducing browsing to plodding EDGE speeds. Whilst 2G data technology is fine for e-mails, it does suffer when trying to load media rich websites. Although the Curve 8520 can be used as a tethered modem, a new access point must be set up and the data is not free. At 2G speeds browsing will be severely crippled anyway.
GPS is also lacking, but this might be considered a necessary sacrifice to bring the cost of the device down. Using the GSM network for triangulation is quite accurate however, so your location can be calculated with the Blackberry or Google Maps applications. Users will have to go back to the bad old days of actually planning their own route though. An FM radio tuner was not included, and is likely to be missed.
The device has a 2MP camera with no flash, and claims up to 408 hours of stand-by time, and 4 hours, 30 minutes of talk time.
After all this, it should be remembered that (aside from being a phone) this device is designed around e-mail – a duty which it performs admirably. E-mail is forwarded to the device the moment it is received via the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) or the BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES); perfect for business types who need to remain on the pulse of their communications.
Overall the BlackBerry Curve 8520 is a versatile smartphone, if somewhat lacking all of the bells and whistles of its cousins. The device comes in at an average of R3 000 but will require activation of the BlackBerry VAS on a contract.
Vodacom will bolt on the BlackBerry VAS to any contract for R59. MTN will do the same for R60. Vodacom is currently offering a special: the Weekender Everyday package with the phone and data service for R149 per month.
Anyone attracted to the push e-mail features and the free data service would do well to consider a BlackBerry contract, as would business users who want simplicity and functionality from their communication device.
Posted on Oct 02, 2009
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Posted on Jan 02, 2017
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