I received my Curve 8520 today (which is now available on T-Mobiles site) and was extatic to get it out of the box and start playing around. Kevin has given us his pre-release review of the entry-level device, but I was happy to have one to play with for myself as well. Mind you, I'm always happy to get a new device to review, but this one will be my first GSM device so I'm in for a totally different experience. Coming from a CDMA carrier I may sound a bit jaded at times, so throwing in a SIM card and firing up Wifi was really something to look forward to. Having my Tour for a few weeks now I'm fully ready to give another device my time (for a few hours anyway). The Curve 8520 is available on T-Mobile today for $129.99 on contract, or at WalMart for $48.88 on contract (yes same phone, same service). This is just a quick look at the Curve 8520, with a more detailed review to follow.
In the box you'll find the standard fare - the device, charger, battery, earbuds, software CD, manuals and a SIM card. The first thing I noticed about the device is how lightweight it is compared to my Tour. Its not "cheap" by any means as it feels sturdy and well constructed. The Curve 8520 runs on the same battery as the Curve 83xx series. The battery door is pressure fitted - there is no latch or button to pop it open and it simply clicks into place. I actually love the battery door and can see some great potential for a CrackBerry sticker or a sweet Coveroo with all that space. The SIM card fits nicely under the battery, and the included 1gb memory card sits off to the side. This is a great spot for it in my opinion as there is no external slot to worry about, and you don't have to remove the battery to get at it.
Once the battery was in the device powered up quickly running OS 188.8.131.529. Nothing really new for those of us using OS 4.6 or 4.7, but those coming from OS 4.5 (or first-time users) will be excited with all the new features. Hardware wise obviously the first major change is the switch from the standard trackball to the new trackpad. It is a fairly big adjustment and takes some getting used to. I had to turn on the audible click to remind me I was actually moving the cursor since it flows so well. I'm still not sure how I feel about it so we'll see how it fairs for me. The Send/End Menu/Back and trackpad layout flows right into the LCD making for a very smooth, clean look. Its kind of all one piece and it just runs together. The keyboard is a great size and has raised keys like the 83xx series but they seem a bit closer together. Convenience keys are in place on the left and right, as well as volume buttons. They are covered by the "rubber" on the sides which I actually like. There is also the new addition of media keys on top of the device for quick access when playing music or movies. Overall the look and feel of the device will entice a lot of users. It feels good and looks good and is a great step up from the original Curve series.
The software has all the basics - browser, BlackBerry Messenger, calendar, tasks, messages etc. Included are the shortcuts for IM apps like AIM and ICQ as well Documents To Go. I was told that the social network apps (Facebook, Myspace etc) were installed as well, however I can't seem to find them on the device. Once activated the T-Mobile MyFaves icon showed up as well.
Overall with only a few hours of play time under my belt, I can say I'm already a fan of the 8520. I can see new users falling in love with BlackBerry for the first time, as well as Curve converts ready to updgrade. I'm excited to run through the device and check out the features. For me, having Wifi on a device has never been a huge issue, but I'm interested to see what all the hype is about and maybe join the Wifi bandwagon. I'll be giving the Curve 8520 the once-over for a few days, and will report back with all my findings (and most likely my new found love of Wifi). If you're itching for more right now, check out Kevin's full pre-release review of the Curve 8520 or grab your own 8520 from T-Mobiles website.