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BlackBerry Curve 8520 review

Niall Magennis



1 of 5

BlackBerry Curve 8520
  • BlackBerry Curve 8520
  • BlackBerry Curve 8520
  • BlackBerry Curve 8520
  • BlackBerry Curve 8520
  • BlackBerry Curve 8520


Our Score:



  • Good price
  • Excellent QWERTY keyboard
  • Great email support


  • Lacks 3G
  • Light on features
  • Disappointing camera

Key Features

  • Quad Band
  • QWERTY keyboard
  • Manufacturer: Research In Motion
  • Review Price: free/subscription

With the new 8520, BlackBerry is targeting mainstream users rather than those who would traditionally buy a smartphone. This is reflected in it's price as the handset will be available for free on £25 a month contracts or alternatively pay as you go users will be able to get their hands on it for around £200, which is pretty cheap by smartphone standards.

The 8520 will look instantly familiar to anyone who's used one of BlackBerry's Curve handsets, except for one new addition. BlackBerry has chosen to introduce its new optical trackpad on this phone. This replaces the company's iconic, mini trackball, or 'pearl' as RIM liked to call it.

RIM's representatives have indicated to us that this new trackpad is likely to be used across all new Curve devices mainly because it has no moving parts and so is less prone to dust and dirt. This being so, it really needs to deliver the goods. We've been fairly unimpressed with optical touchpads on devices like the HP iPAQ Voice Messenger, but thankfully the one on the 8520 is in a totally different league. It's a pleasure to use as it's both accurate and responsive and really we didn't miss the old style track ball at all. You can also adjust its horizontal and vertical sensitivity to customise the speed at which it zips around icons on the screen.

As the new trackpad doesn't stick out from the case like the old trackball, RIM has now made the four main buttons under the display sit completely flush with the screen giving the handset a much sleeker look than previous Curve models. It has also changed around some of the other controls. For example, gone are the lock and mute buttons at the top of the screen to be replaced by a row of three rubberised media transport controls - two track skip keys and a play/pause button. The traditional side mounted buttons have also now been 'weatherised', so they're not as exposed to the elements as they used to be.

RIM has also sensibly added a standard 3.5mm headphone/headset jack so if you don't like the supplied headset you can swap it for your own cans, although you'll lose the hands-free functionality. The addition of a standard headset jack is welcome, but RIM has annoyingly placed it on the left edge of the phone rather than at the top with the result that lead tends to snag when you're taking the handset in and out of your pocket.

On the plus side the 35-key backlit QWERTY keyboard is excellent as ever. The keys may be small, but as they're slightly raised they're easy to hit with your fingers and thumbs so tapping out emails is not a problem. The transmissive screen is also nice and bright making videos and pictures look surprisingly vivid. However, at 2.46in it's relatively small by today's smartphone standards and only has a resolution 320 x 240 pixels so it feels a tad cramped when you're using the web browser. The handset itself measures 109mm in height, 60mm in width and 13.9mm in depth, and weighs in at 106g.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

James Reckitt

August 26, 2009, 1:38 pm

The 8520 matches my needs as a public user perfectly, it's just a case of whether it's cheap ENOUGH to make the 'better' devices take a back seat.


September 18, 2009, 4:51 pm

Blackberry's focus is market share and this device will not only attract a great consumer following, but also tempt in cost conscious small businesses. Dare I say its a very prudent choice. I bought this for my daughter (I use a bold personally) and I love the optical mouse, but the media controls are a bit of a waste of time as the latest BB's can skip back and forward with a long press of the volume controls.

Elaine Vance

January 3, 2010, 5:08 pm

BE WARNED DO NOT PURCHASE THE BLACKBERRY CURVE 8520 PHONE - I cannot understand the last two reviews. This phone is useless and it certainly insults the terminology 'Smartphone'. I could think of other words like 'playphone' 'uselessphone' 'stupidphone' but not 'smartphone'. The definition is ridculously low, the screen is too small, handling is poor, it lacks 3G and GPS, viewing the browser (if you can get connected) is difficult to say the least as the screen is so small, the camera is measley with no flash,(the list is infinite - I could go on about the poorly designed user interface, the fact that a media card is required for video and camera use, poor memory, you are supplied with only one theme (a big ugly sunflower) I am sorry I cannot comment on the MP3 type function - I perish the thought). I have had two IT guys look at this for me in order to set up simple tasks like wireless connection and smartnumbers (their commonly used phrase for this phone is 'thickphone'). The user guide is of no help - probably because there is nothing about this phone that is of use. Another poor point - little to no accessories available. The unfortunate thing now is that I am stuck with it for 2 years. I feel that I have been fooled into buying something worthy of the title 'smart'.


February 3, 2010, 1:27 am

i have to agree 100% with previous reviewer. this phone is a major disappointment coming from the nokia environment (e71, e63). the kbd is terrible - double-key typing is common. but the WORST of all is the period and no. typing. Its unbelievable that RIM couldnt have simply gone for the 'hold-down' function to get the alt. letter or number as in the nokias. most function just seem so under-developed. there is no full functionality pc-suite equivalent. surely rim must know users have other phones and will be comparing directly. we need new phones that take the best of others and build on it; not start a few steps back? Im desperately looking to swop the 8520 for another e63 or e71 (which are superb, well-optimised devices, not without its issues, but NOT BASIC ones like typing periods and other symbols...please!!)


May 7, 2010, 7:18 pm

I really liked its 35-key backlit QWERTY keyboard. Recently I have purchased the same Blackberry 8520 from fones.com

Brian 17

June 21, 2010, 4:00 am

Just bought this phone 2 days ago from T-mobile on payg for £149 Came with 6 months free internet & e-mail. I think it's great. Aswell as the usual phone facilities it's e-mail and messaging services are brilliant. I can chat on msn from any location aswell as send and receive e-mails. The phone can store up to 10 different e-mail addresses. If you want a good camera then buy a camera? As a mobile communication device, It cant be beat.


August 3, 2010, 11:12 am

I have had the Blackberry Curve 8520 about 2 months now, and ive never hadan easier life with a mobile phone. It's complex as its a smartphone but when you read the instructions and follow the setup properly things become more easier. Looking at "Elaine Vances" comment. The Blacberry is a smartphone and couldn't be described as useless; i can't see how the screen is too small and if yo need it you can make the print on the screen larger by a vast ammount. With every phone you buy sample photos are always on there and one is set as you background on the first page, you can delete this take a photo and change it thats what its there for. The wireless function takes time to setup,and use, because its got to link in with wireless. When i had mine i setg it up left ita few days and the wireless and internet browser are amzing. I love checking my emails every day when im 80 odd miles away from my wirelessplug in box at home.The MP3 music player on it is GREAT! i love it the sound quality is amazing compared to other phones.

There are a few disadvantages to the phone like all phones really:

1. The camera is of very poor quality which is a shame but i always take another camera out now. 2. The cursor stops working every now and again & you have to turn it on and off before it start again.

Overall the Blackberry Curve is a modern up to date smartphone and is very handy to have. Other comments you may see is that people cannot get use to the complex modern technology of the Blackberry Curve. It takes a bit of getting used to but overall a brilliant worth while mobile phone.


July 2, 2012, 12:44 pm

Blackberry Curve 8520 full QWERTY keypad and 2.46" wide screen display really great. Further it is enhanced by Touch-sensitive optical trackpad which is really amazing. Some India's online shopping portal like Infibeam selling BlackBerry Curve 8520 at great prices.

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