RIM BlackBerry Curve 8520 review

Barry de la Rosa
16 Nov 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
per-month, 18-month contract from Orange; £187 from Handtec

The 8520 has an accurate trackpad button, good application support and is great for music, but lacks GPS and high-speed 3G.



BlackBerry OS, 2.5in 320x240 display

The BlackBerry Curve 8520 has a wide screen with a full QWERTY keyboard beneath and a clever trackpad button that senses your thumb's movement.

The keypad has the usual BlackBerry layout, with buttons that have enough travel and make a clear click when pressed. They're a bit small for some thumbs, but thumbnails work just as well.

Like Symbian, the BlackBerry OS is starting to look dated. The options menu is a huge list of text, and the main menu icons are rather obscure. While this is fine for long-term users, new users might be confused. Unlike Symbian, RIM's BlackBerry App World is full of useful, up-to-date apps although, annoyingly, not all of them are available on all BlackBerry models.

With only a 2-megapixel camera and no flash, we weren't surprised to see the 8520 fare badly in our image-quality test. However, it did better than phones with more megapixels, and its colours and contrast were good. It suffered badly from noise and compression artefacts.

The 2?in screen is bright, colourful and fine for watching short video clips. The 8520 only supports EDGE, so you won't get the extra speed of HSDPA, although web browsing and downloading apps was fast enough. There's also no GPS receiver, so you can't use the 8520 with Google Maps to navigate.

The rubberised finish round the edge of the case helps with grip, and we were pleasantly surprised to find music playback controls above the screen, so you can control your music with the phone in your pocket. It also has a 3.5mm headphone jack, but you'll need a memory card if you want to store a lot of music.

BlackBerrys are renowned for their messaging and office work capabilities, and the 8520 is no exception. The operating system may be clunky, but once it's configured, the 8520 works efficiently. It's also one of the least expensive phones here, but the lack of GPS and limited EDGE speeds mean it misses out on an award.




Main display size2.5in
Native resolution320x240
Second DisplayNo
CCD effective megapixels2.0-megapixel
Video recording format3GP
ConnectivityBluetooth, WiFi, USB
Internal memory256MB
Memory card supportmicroSDHC
Memory card included0MB
Operating frequenciesGSM 850/900/1800/1900
Wireless dataEDGE


Operating systemBlackBerry OS
Microsoft Office compatibilityWord/Excel/PowerPoint/PDF viewers
Email clientPOP3/IMAP/Exchange
Audio format supportAAC-LC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR-NB, WMA, AAC-LC
Video playback formatsMPEG4, H.263, H.264, WMV
FM Radiono
Web BrowserBlackBerry browser
Accessoriesdata cable, charger
Talk time4.5 hours
Standby time17 days
Tested battery life (MP3 playback)15h 56m

Buying Information

SIM-free price£199
Price on contractFree on £24-per-month, 18-month contract

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