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By Mike Joubert 30 September 2009

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Over the past few months we’ve received a number of entry-level smartphones for testing. The BlackBerry Curve 8520 was the most surprising of the lot, since we didn’t expect a BlackBerry that would be available on a R150 weekender package, which by the way includes unlimited Internet browsing and email.

No 3G

The BlackBerry devices are certainly some of the easiest to set-up email on, and the new Curve is no exception. You should have your email up in running in minutes.

The main criticism that can be leveled against the Curve is its lack of 3G connectivity, which makes browsing on the device more of a chore than a pleasure. If you are lucky enough to have a wireless network, rather switch on the Curve’s Wi-Fi and surf through your network. For regular emailing the slow, EDGE connection isn’t too much of a problem though.

Handling

One of the biggest changes on the Curve is the replacement of the usual trackball with a trackpad. We had no trouble using it, as it was fast and responsive and worked without hassle. It might have been a tad too quick, but fortunately its sensitivity can be adjusted.

Although the slight slant on the keys helped for more accurate typing, the QWERTY keypad is still spaced a bit too close for comfort, causing typos when doing a bit of fast typing.

Media capabilities

All work and no play will make Jack envious of the Curve’s cool media functionality. The three dedicated media buttons on top of the Curve make it dead easy to control your tunes without having to mess about on the trackpad. Top this off with a 3.5 mm jack to plug in your own headphones, with decent enough onboard speakers, and you have yourself quite the media phone. That said, while the music player is sweet, the bland two megapixel camera left us sour.

A bit of a let down is that there’s no onboard GPS. The fact that the BlackBerry App World is also not yet available in SA is bit frustrating as well. But if you’re on the lookout for a phone with excellent email capabilities, while also offering some lovely media functionality, the BlackBerry Curve 8520 should be your weapon of choice.

PROS
Great media functionality and well priced.
CONS
No GPS or 3G connectivity.
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