Product Type: Blackberry Smartphone
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You need some nerve to buy this Blackberry curve
Blackberry Curve 8520
Member Name: blissman70
Blackberry Curve 8520
Advantages: small, good call quality, nice clear music, lovely touchpad and feels good
Disadvantages: no 3G, small screen, slow cpu, bad internet experience and fails day after warranty runs out
Mobile phones? Most people have heard of them, many of them have used one, with a lot of people owning at least one in their life times.
There are so many mobile phones on the market these days, with some big names, and some rather strange names too. But one of the most famous names out there these day is not your Nokia, or your Samsung, but it is in fact the name of a fruit, and that fruit is in fact called a Blackberry.
Yes, that's right, they named a fruit after a mobile phone? How strange is that then?
Anyway. The blackberry mobile phone. Well, this is not even that easy to think about buying as even the Blackberry phone selection is as vast as my wife's shoe collection, with there being so many offering so much, but not for so little.
One particular Blackberry phone that is on the lower price score card is a little aged compared to some of the others, that phone is on fact the Blackberry curve 8520, which should not be confused with other Blackberry curve phones that have different numbers after the word 'curve'
This phone then. The Curve.
Firstly though, may I tell you what you should get in the box apart from the phone, just in case you open the box and want to know if you're missing something.
In the box you should get...
The phone itself, (if not then you've been robbed and you need to get back to the shop asap).
You should also get a charger to keep the battery charged, which you will have to do quite a few times, sometimes in one day if you use the phone a bit.
Also, there's a handy, or more a hands free headset, a USB cable, a user guide and a bit of software to install on your PC.
Right. Now we've checked the box and made sure that everything is in there, it's time for the beginning of the Blackberry saga, which, as any one with a smart will know, the set up can be more frustrating than a conversation with your bank manager.
Now you've slotted the SIM card in the back, poked in your microSD card, shoved in the battery, which has some charge already in it but could do with a full first charge of about 16 hours or so, and you're ready to turn the phone on and get started.
But first, you'll want to turn the phone over in your hand and have a quick look at it.
So here we go. What does this Blackberry Curve look like then?
It is made of a black rubber feel material that encases around the sides, with the front and back being made of a plastic material. It pretty small, being about 110mm high by 60mm wide and a mere 14mm deep, weighing in at something like 100grams.
On the front there is the 2 ½ inch screen, (almost), which is near the top, with the earpiece above this together with the sensor which is to the right of the earpiece.
Below the screen there are the controls, with the green answer button on the far left and the red end button on the far right, (this button double as the power button, which is the norm as on all phones really).
In between these buttons there is the back button, the 'trackpad' and the 'Blackberry' button.
Then below these buttons there is the keyboard itself, which is qwerty for easy use with the buttons all doubling up so that all letter and numbers and functions can fit onto the 35 keys.
On the left side, as you look at the screen, there is a 3.5mm earphone port, with a small power connector below this and a 'convenience' function button below this, which opens the voice dialling app.
On the other side there is the volume button and another 'convenience' button below this one, which is a quick way to open the camera function and take a snap.
On the top there are a few keys, those being the next key, previous key and the play/pause/mute button, which are all really for the music system.
Is it complicated to get it up and running..?
No, not really, although the more complicated things you want to set up on it the more troubles you may come across.
Setting my phone up properly took me the usual four weeks, two days, seven hours, 55 minutes and twenty seconds. But you may be quicker as I tend to give up when things get a bit tough, then go back to it at a later date.
Anyway. I won't go into too much detail on the set up but I will say that this is the same as any normal smart phone when it comes to setting it up, such as the E-Mail settings, internet setting, phone settings and all your other personal settings.
Just do what I do. Forget the manual, just use good old trail and error, it works for me, even if it does take a long time to get to the finish line.
What about connecting to other things..?
Connection to other devices and the internet is by GPRS, EDGE,WLAN, Bluetooth and even the good old USB/micro USB. Messaging is done via your standard SMS, MMS, E-Mail and IM.
Sadly though there is no inbuilt radio so you can't listen to classic FM.
What about storage space then..?
You can fit this into any cupboard, or even you tracksuit bottom pockets... no seriously, I'm really talking about the storage if the internal memory, which stand at a measly 256MB, but as you can slap in a 32GB microSD card to help carry more files, music, images and other data.
I have read that it can only take a 16GB card but I have had a 32GB card in mine, which I put in by mistake, without noticing for quite some time, and it has worked quite well so far.
And the screen..?
The TFT screen is not the biggest, being 2.46inch in size with 320 x 240 pixels
When you have it set up it shows what ever picture you have as a screensaver, with a few shortcut options running along the bottom and the good old phone information along the top. This phone information giving you an idea of the time, date, battery power, signal strength, volume... well, you get the picture.
So what does it offer then..?
Many features as you'd expect from a smart phone these days. Calling, texting, E-Mailing, picture taking, video taking, keeping track of your life, web browsing, social networking and mush more.
As for the operating system, well, this is Blackberry, (obviously) 5.0 and the phone houses a 512MHz central processor unit, which, compared to some more modern phones is pretty slow indeed, but it is fast enough for this particular phone and manages to keep things running. But too much cooking will spoil the slops..?? Or something like that anyway.
It has a built in camera which is a 2MP affair giving up to 1600x1200 pixels, and has a 5x digital zoom, with the video giving QVGA quality pictures. There is no flash so you can't take pictures in the dark.
The lens in one the back of the phone so you can't really use this for Skype or things like that.
The camera has a zoom function which does come in handy, even if it not the greatest, but it does a fine job in getting that close up shot. And using it is a simple matter of passing your digits over the touchpad and it zooms in or out...simple
It can also be used during the video function, although not whilst actually recording, but as you can pause, then change the zoom, and carry on recording, you can still technically use the zoom quite easily.
Then there's a music player, which is pretty basic, but the quality of sound is second to none, even out of the built in speaker, but I get the best of my music from my own earphones and as it has a standard 3.5mm jack you can fit any earphone into it.
Sadly though the positioning of the earphone jack in questionable and does get in the way when it comes to slipping this phone into my pocket when I'm listening to music.
What about other features on this fruit named device..?
There could be many features on this phone, possibly too many to actually go into, and the fact you can swap a few things around makes explain some of them a complete waste of time.
All I will say is that there are quite a few apps to choose from and can all be found in 'appworld', which is the Blackberry equivalent of the Android app store 'google play'.
And the power supply, what about that then..?
As all mobile phones this one is powered by a rechargeable battery which, when fully charged, can give up to 4 and a half hours of talk time and a good 400hours of standby time.
The battery itself is not too bad and can give a good amount of talk time, but it does lose power once I've opened a few apps, or maybe listened to music a little bit. With the most power being sucked away when I used the camera a bit. But as I've used several smart phones I know that the battery is always draining faster than a greyhound round a track, (except for the ones that I put money on that is).
So the battery isn't really an issue I just have to remember to keep a charger at hand just in case the power runs down when I most need to make a call.
So how does it handle then..?
For a mobile phone it's not too bad, especially due to the fact that it is no bigger than a box of swan matches, (almost). It has many things that you'd expect from a mobile phone, plus, it actually makes calls as well, which is why the name 'phone' comes into it.
The keys just under the screen are flush with the screen itself, which gives the phone a nice stylish look to it. With the keys on the keyboard being slightly indented into the body for easy feeling. In fact, to make the keys easier to use they are shaped in such a way that my fingers and thumbs seem to glide along the slightly curvy shape, being helped by the fact that the keys are slightly raised and there is a lovely little gaps that lies between each key. In fact, I think it's the lovely way that each key feels like it's been carved at a lovely angle with the letter, number and symbols being on either side of the lovely convex style.
It did take me a few hours of texting but I finally ended up flying away when it came to writing a text.
The dedicated keys are easy to understand but the shortcuts that this phone has to offer using the keyboard can be more complicated than an insurance companies small print. All these shortcut features are very tricky to remember without writing them down on a piece of paper first. Which is why I tend to use only a few of them, the ones that I can remember, which with my brain, is not that many.
It ringtones are polyphonic and MP3, with vibration for when you want it on silent mode. The ringtones, together with the music you want to play on this phone can be heard through the loud speaker, or even the earphones that fit into the standard 3.5mm earphone jack
Speaking of music tracks it can play music formats such as MP3, AAC,WMA and WAV, which is most format really, and as it has a dedicated music key it is quick and easy to navigate to your tracks to listen too. As for the video, it handles MP4 and WMV
I was never a big fan of the Blackberry named phones, mainly due to the fact that they were so highly priced, and still are really, plus the fact that everyone had one and a lot of people did nothing but complain about how bad the phones were.
But eventually I happened upon one, although it did not cost me anything as I was given it to use due to work commitments.
Anyway, as I had previously used several Blackberry's before I was sort of used to how they worked and what they were capable of. Sadly though this one was not as good as others I have used. In fact, this one is not as good as some 'not so smart' phones either.
To me this looks like most of the other Blackberry models, with the curving sides and finger/thumb hugging keyboard, although it does not have the roller-ball thing in the centre for some reason. Instead it has a track pad, as it's called, which is remarkable efficient indeed and as responsive as cat on a hot tin roof.
The main buttons on the front are supposed to be designed in such a way so that they are easier to use, for texting purposes, which they are really, as the single button feels like it is actually two buttons due to the way that it is angled. This makes texting without looking at the buttons quite easy indeed.
The side buttons are cleverly housed behind a cover along the body, protecting them from bits falling into the gaps, as there are no gaps at all. And these button are easily pushed without fear of damaging them or getting them jammed.
The screen may be small, but as you don't have to really on there being a keyboard in the screen, as you do with the likes of the HTC;s then the screen size isn't that bad really. The down side to the screen is the fact that it gets dusty in the blink of an eye and it can be scratched just by looking at in the wrong way. The visibility of the screen is still clear, regardless of the size of it, and you can see everything on there well enough.
The trackpad is not too bad, if a little on the sensitive side, although this can be adjusted in the settings so that you can get it just to how you want it. Once I'd set this up, getting it as sensitive as I could, and after a few near misses and silly little mistakes, I was using this almost as well as I use a touchpad on my laptop, with my thumb gliding along like Torvill and Dean on a good day.
I found the call quality to be remarkably brilliant, even when I haven't got it up to full volume on the earpiece. Plus, the fact that most of the time people who I am talking to aren't constantly asking if I'm still there I'm guessing that they can hear me most of the time.
The music player is not too bad, giving some clear audio through the rather fine earphones that came with this phone. It sounds even better with my old faithful earphones as they are better quality so they give clearer sounds.
I nearly forgot about something that a lot of people rave about, the BBM that Blackberry's offer in the form of an app. But to be honest I don't really know much about it as I don't use it at all. I couldn't even tell you whether it works on this particular phone as I have not downloaded any apps and I can't say that I have noticed an app on the phone that offers BBM.
I might give it a go one day, if I ever use the phone again that is, and if I do then I will add it to this piece of writing... but don't hold your breath.
Now for why I fell out of love with this phone...
The whole unit is made of a thin plastic material which could easily be mistaken for something you might find separating the layers of chocolate in a box of milk tray.
I can't understand why the earphone jack is on the side as it would have been better placed on the top, as with most other phones that I have used. When I have my earphones in place I can't simply drop this phone in my pocket as the connector of the earphones sticks out of the side and stops the phone from fitting in. this is why the jack would have been better placed on the top.
But this is just a slight downside, or more a bad design flaw. (and someone got paid vast amounts of money to think of this idea).
It's not the best for surfing the internet, although I really do think that I am comparing this to other smart phones, with the screen being smaller than a screen on the HTC, making reading web pages trick on the old retinas. The zoom function did play tricks on me as well, which became annoying at times and just plain stupid at other times.
The CPU is not the best, in fact, it's as fast as a fat man heading for the salad bar. No, kidding, it's not that slow, but I have used phones that are a lot faster and once you've used a faster CPU then this one does feel slow indeed.
It does lack 3G and GPS, which makes this pretty useless when it comes to trying to get connected when you're miles from a well known coffee house and burger joint, as the internet connection that it does give you is slower than a one legged donkey climbing a mountain whilst wearing a Wellington boot and a blindfold.
In fact, for me, the whole phone soon became pretty boring really, with many of the installed bits and bobs showing as much excitement as a bookworms in a DVD shop.
Then, after a few months of using this I found that it was beginning to feel more like a dumb phone than a smart phone, with it starting to slow down like a teenager heading to the local library.
This is when I really went off the Blackberry Curve as it made my life hell, in a communication sort of way that is, losing calls, text going everywhere apart from where I wanted them to go, which was embarrassing sometimes. Then other things started to go wrong, with the phone turning off at the most inconvenient times, then sometimes calling me for some strange and unknown reason, which made me look pretty stupid when I kept having to answer a phone and talk to no one, apart from the phone itself.
Then things went from bad to worse, with the CPU failing quicker than a blind man on a driving test and the screen seeming to lose colour faster than a nervous chap during air turbulence.
And still the phone let me down, day after day after day. Until I ended up throwing the thing into a draw and trying to forget that it ever existed. Which is not that easy to do.
So, with all the pitfalls of the Blackberry world, I ended up turning to another phone which, even though a lot cheaper, it was more reliable than this piece of monstrous devil in angelic clothing.
So how much will one of these set you back then..?
Well, this is not iPhone money, but it is still Blackberry money, which means that you do have to dig a bit into your pocket.
The actual price of this Blackberry curve 8520 is around the £100 - £120 region.
But with the festive season just around the corner, (and my Birthday come to think of it), there nay be some cracking offers and sales on this particular phone as it is one of the older modals at the end of the day really.
Would I recommend this Blackberry curve 5520?
Initially I would have said yes, especially if you can get it for the lower end price.
But if I knew know what I knew then about what is now something that I now know about what I should have known then then I'd have steered clear of this as a cheap price is not worth the frustrating of what this caused, (I think I've developed an ulcer since using this one. An dmy hairs gone a funny colour of dark white shall we say??).
I won't say steer clear of this phone, (I don't think I'm allowed to on this site), but I will say show some caution if you are thinking of buying this one as a smart phone. You'd be smarter to go for something else.
Summary: And it calls itself a smart phone..??? mine just called itself many times