Verizon BlackBerry Curve 8530 Review

BlackBerry Curve 8530
By Adam Zeis on 20 Nov 2009 12:01 am EST
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Ever since I had a chance to play with the Curve 8520, I have held a special place in my BlackBerry heart for the revamped 85xx series devices. It flashes me back to the days of my 8830 and being a new BlackBerry user. I think the Curve 8530 would have been a much better starting point, and is definitely a great choice for those entering the BlackBerry world for the first time. The smooth design and lightweight build make the device one that just feels good. Its easy to hold, has great trackpad navigation and sports the familiar Curve keyboard. The addition of the dedicated media buttons along the top of the device are an added bonus as well. So lets jump in and find out why the Curve 8530 is not a step back like some may think, and rather a great "starter" device for new BlackBerry users and "dumbphone" converts.

Hardware

The device itself just looks cool. Unlike most newer devices, the Curve 8530 sports an all black design. There is no flashy chrome bezel or leather battery door. Lets face it, the Curve 8530 isn't meant to look good - its meant to have the core BlackBerry components without the bling. The keyboard takes from the original Curve series, and you either love it or hate it. With newer keyboard designs like that of the Bold 9000 and Tour 9630, some may have given up on this spaced-out design. I still think that this is one of the best keyboard layouts, especially if you are new to a full QWERTY device.

BlackBerry Curve 8530 Keyboard BlackBerry Curve 8530 Keyboard

The front buttons rest nicely around the trackpad, and they all flow right into the display. The trackpad is awesome and fits perfectly with the device. There is no "loose" feeling to it and its a huge upgrade from the trackball navigation. There are no gaps or loose keys, and the device is very solid overall. On the sides is a rubber coating that flows onto the back of the unit. The volume and convenience keys are covered, which in turn makes them more durable and able to stand up to years of being pulled in and out of pockets. The top of the device sports the new dedicated media keys. I personally don't use my BlackBerry for media (music/video) often, so these keys could have been better as the standard Mute/Standby buttons in my opinion. I can see how they are great for users who listen to music often on their device, as it makes access and skipping tracks a whole lot easier. The battery door is a carbon-fiber looking plastic, and I much prefer the plain black door of the 8520. 

BlackBerry Curve 8530 Media ButtonsBlackBerry Curve 8530 Dedicated Media Buttons

The pressure-fitted battery door sits snug in the device but isn't difficult to remove (for me anyway, maybe Kevin would say otherwise). Inside rests the battery and memory card. The only downsides I can see to the device are the screen resolution and camera. Current BlackBerry users will obviously make the statement that the 320x240 resolution is a step back from the current 480x360 of the newer devices, however for first time users (who the device is geared toward) shouldn't have any complaints. As for the camera - the lower 2 MP version and lack of flash may be a drawback to some. The device takes decent pictures, but there is a noticable difference in the images from that of my Tour camera. The lack of a flash limits the abilities of the camera as well. 

Software

As we move on to the "meat" of the device, there are actually a lot of things to take note of. First off, the Curve 8530 is running OS 5.0.0.337. This means that it packs in all the cool features of OS 5.0 that we looked at when I checked out the Bold 9700 - like BBM 5.0, improved browser, improved message options and email and more. One of the biggest additions is obviously the Wifi capability of the device. Until the release of the Storm2, Verizon had not seen Wifi on any devices, so it is a great thing to see CDMA devices being rolled out with Wifi. There are preloaded IM applications, as well as Facebook, Myspace and Flickr. These are sure to please students and those that are heavy into social media. Also included is BlackBerry App World, and all of the organizational tools are available as well. Calendar, tasks, memos, address book and more. Round it out with the BlackBerry browser and BlackBerry Messenger and you're set.

The Device

Typing on the Curve 8530 is a breeze. The keyboard is the right size for the device, and the 8530 just sits well in your hand. Its easy to hold on to given the rounded design and rubber sides, and small enough to carry around in your pocket. The device is fast and switching between applications is quick and easy. Some newer applications may have minor display issues on the 8530's lower resolution screen as most have been updated for higher resolution devices. The same issue comes into play with the web browser. Having a full HTML browser on a device is great, but the low resolution is at times hard to read/see. Zooming on the pages helps a bit, but some sites are just too difficult to see in the browser. 

BlackBerry Bold 9700 Browser
Web Browser - 480x360

BlackBerry Curve 8530 Browser
Web Browser - 320x240

Its easy to jump into social media and IM with the 8530, as all of the apps are ready and waiting. IM apps (AIM, GTalk, MSN and Yahoo!) are all ready for downloading, as well as the Facebook and Myspace apps. I like the fact that its easy to pick up the device and not have to search for basic apps like this that the 8530 user will be searching for. 

Playing music/video on the Curve 8530 is easy with the dedicated media buttons. I'm not one to listen to much music from my BlackBerry, but the 8530 makes me want to. Having the buttons on top of the device makes for easy access, and really adds to the value of the phone. You can throw it in your pocket or bag and easily skip or pause tracks without having to look at the device. If you're used to carting around a music player in addition to your BlackBerry, you may be able to stick with just one device now. The sound quality from the Curve is good overall. The device speaker isn't bad, but you can get much better sound from a good set of earbuds. The speaker sounds somewhat tinny at times, but you can tweak the settings to get a little more out of it. The included earbuds actually aren't too bad and the music sounds comparable to an iPod with the OEM earbuds. 

The Verdict

Overall I think the BlackBerry Curve 8530 is an awesome starter device. I don't think that a seasoned BlackBerry user will pick this device, but they'll rather stick with something more "beefy" like a Bold 9700 or Tour 9630. As an entry level device however, the 8530 can't be beat. It has a great design and feel, awesome trackpad, great media functions and the latest BlackBerry 5.0 OS features. The addition of Wifi is a huge plus for Verizon users. The first full QWERTY device to have Wifi should appeal to a larger userbase than with previous releases. All in all a great jumping off point for those looking to get into the BlackBerry world. Granted some users will take it for a spin and may end up sticking with it. I think the only drawback for a long time BlackBerry user on this device would be adjusting back to the lower resolution screen (and perhaps the camera if you take a lot of pictures). In the end, it's a great device for starting out that should help bring many people over from the non-BlackBerry world. 

Topics: Devices

Reader comments

Verizon BlackBerry Curve 8530 Review

43 Comments

I played it on the 8520 and the BB feels pretty solid, for under a hundred bucks it's a great deal I think.

I also heard that Telus will be getting the 8530...which I don't understand because Telus is GSM now, not CDMA.

P.S. You're going to take a lot of flak for calling the Bold 9700 a "beefy" device :P.

Telus will keep the CDMA network running for at least the next 3-5 years, while running the HSPA network concurrently while they move to LTE. Btw, they are 3G only...no GSM.

I like seeing all these new Blackberries for everyone to choose from. I have a friend on my account using the 8330 and this will be a nice upgrade for him.

Just got back from the store. The manager was bored so he brought it out for me to play with. I like it, cool phone, trackpad is awesome. It will be a big seller for Verizon I believe. Open GL has already been confirmed, Oh Yeah! He had a lavendar one too, for the girls or a man who is sure of himself.

Do you want to use the words "Starter" and "Entry-level" anymore? What the hell is the deal with people calling this an "entry level" device? Why are you labeling this device like this? I'm a "seasoned" BlackBerry user, and I AM choosing to upgrade to this device. Why would I buy a Tour when it has less features, is larger, and costs more? Gee, after I get used to this start device, what model would I move on to? The Tour, that has less features, etc.? I don't get it.

Stop acting so elite. If you like the device, buy it. Are you labeling it "starter" because it's a smaller/thinner model? I think I'll call the Bold a "entry-level device".

Stop making me feel like a n00b BlackBerry user because I like this model. Thanks. Can't wait to get my entry level BlackBerry.

First of all, who said the Tour was an upgrade? I wouldn't recommend the Tour over a new Curve to someone who wants their first Blackberry. I really wouldn't recommend the Tour to anyone.

Secondly, you're criticizing the opinion of someone who's job it is to get personal with every Blackberry known to man. An opinion, to add, with plenty of good things to say about the device.

So, what's with the rant?

I love the Curve. The 8320 was my 1st Blackberry, and I still have it around just to look at it. I'm thrilled its still being developed, and I hope a lot of people enjoy the newest incarnation, however, I'd consider it a downgrade from my Storm2 and the new Bold by something similar to a wide margin. The media keys are cool, but I wouldn't trade my lock button for them...

Anyway, enjoy your new Curve. Don't forget to clean your memory.

I swear some of you people get so defensive. It's a "starter" or "entry level" device because things like the screen and camera are of lesser quality than devices like the Bold. It doesn't have the leather. It's not designed to be a top-end model. It's like your everyday car as opposed to a Ferrari. Adam's not saying good drivers only drive Ferraris, but if you haven't driven before, you're probably better off getting the Toyota. If you haven't had a smart phone before and you want the basic functionality it provides, this device is probably your best bet. My parents don't even have cameras on their phones. If they wanted to get a BB to browse the web, they should probably get this device.

I have been on this for a while now too. I dont know where they started with it.. But I agree I have had blackberries for a while and generally the goto guy on phones whith the people i know and I would much rather have this phone. I find that most of the people that put starter or entry level in thier post are people who just bought the tour and dont get to upgrade. trying to downgrade this phone because they cant get it?(unless they pay full retail)

Have fun today... I am jeleous... im on sprint and i have to wait... until??????????

correct me if i'm wrong. but i thought the 8520 was gsm and 8530 was cdma.

either way. is it an upgrade or a downgrade? trackpad it has. 5.0 is stock, instead of leaked like most of us may be running. but memory is the same and cam resolution is 2.0 instead of 3.2 resolution.

"The device takes decent pictures, but there is a noticable difference in the images from that of my Tour camera. The lack of a flash limits the abilities of the camera as well"

If you took the pictures in this review with your Tour camera, i have a hard time believing that the 8530's camera could be any worse. ;)

Informative review nonetheless!

Adam, what games come on the 8530?

I'm assuming brickbreaker - anything else tho?

btw great review - ill be looking for a replacement for my 8330 and this was very informative.

Does the middle key on top (mute) put the phone into standby mode? That was a great feature on 8330 that was lost on newer BB's, tho they do have a dedicated lock key at the top, so I'm hoping that middle key does do standby or at least lock.

i think its a nice phone
but personally i have a hard time going back to a lower screen resolution

i definitely got spoiled the bold and i cant fathom goin back to a lower screen resolution

This is considered a "starter" device due to the screen and camera.....and lack of World roaming ability. When asked what the Tour has that this doesn't? It's the ability to travel to anywhere in the world and work. Keep that in mind because for many of us that makes a giant difference.

Starter device or not, it all depends on your situation as to how you would rate this device. From an overall development standpoint, this is intended as an entry level device and is being marketed as such. The price point alone shows that. However, it doesn't make it better or worse than any other device, that depends solely on your needs.

I currently have the 8330, which I love. However, when looking at phones for upgrade consideration, I have several things I must take into account. First is durability. As much as I love the Tour, for me, I doubt it would be a good fit. I don't require the "World Phone" capabilities, I don't take many pictures with my phone and I don't need flash and bling.

What I do need is a phone that can stand up to the rigors of my job (construction). Now, I'm not referring to dropping or tossing the phone around, but constant usage and dust are major issues for me. The new trackpad is a HUGE improvement in regards to dirt and dust, as well as the encased side keys.

So, for me, personally, it wouldn't be entry level. Considering this is the phone I will likely jump to when released for Sprint, I can't wait. Why pay all the money for the Tour with features I don't need and it still boasts a trackball and exposed side keys. I'll stick with the entry level device :)

My wife is very picky about her BB.. shes been using a pink 8330 for a year now and loves it. I let her use a Storm, that lasted a day... and let her use a tour.. shes been using that for about 2 weeks and hates it. She loves her curve, loves the keyboard, and even loves the display since the text is larger - so for her the lower resolution is actually a benefit.

Of course I think the key and most important feature of the new curve for her: Smokey Violet.

im still using my beloved curve 8310 so in january when i get an upgrade i will be choosing this model. its an upgrade for those of us still on the 83xx series. while i love my friends tour 1. i don't want to spend that much money on a devise i mainly use for bbm, text, and notepad :) 2. i love the media keys 3. the tmobile one is white. yep, i said it, i also pick my blackberries based on color. i don't want a black phone and the tour is black. so that automatically makes it something i wouldn't buy. i know im not the only person who thinks this way either.

It pretty much sums it up when he says for a new blackberry user this would be a great device but someone with a Bold or Tour currently will not want to "downgrade" to this device.

Love it though for a starter phone for the blackberry world.

Not that i really consider this a entry level device cause i have a 8330 but there is the fact that the 8530 has EVDO REV 0
while the Tour 9630 sports EVDO REV A which is not huge but every little bit counts. Right?

So when do those of us long time blackberry users who HATE the 8800/Bold/Tour keyboard fit? Blackberries started out with nice little separate buttons, and those square keys with the ridges are just terrible for someone used to the other. I had an 8830 after my 8703 and I hated every day typing on that thing. Will there ever be a high end blackberry with the nice screen and better camera and the good features with a curve (to me, traditional) blackberry keyboard? (kind of like the Curve 8900, but on Verizon). I'm so annoyed I'd get an iphone if I didn't hate a full touchscreen. Is it wrong to hope/wish they'll make a blackberry with a touchscreen and a vertical slide-down keyboard someday?

I've used BBs for 10 years (all on VZW where I'll be staying), the last two years on a Curve 8330, which I'm happy with but it's aging. I've tried the Tour (horrid IMHO)...the Storm 2, the Droid, Eris, and and even an iPhone...not happy with any of them and I'm not waiting for the revamped Tour.

I played around with the new 8530 and I have to disagree a little with your one statement that most seasoned BB users will not buy it. Perhaps...but those who don't like any of the other BB, or other phones right now with VZW may well just jump to it...I know I will this afternoon.

I don't need a camera at all on my phone, so whatever is there is fine with me (I know a camera is needed for some folks...they won't get this. I take pics that I can enjoy for years to come...not to squint at and wonder why I can't see them. Most all camera phones are pathetic...let's face it. The Droid has the best of the lot.

So if you just want a good BB that will do phone duty, email, calendar, contacts, and whatever apps you need...why not take a second look at the 8530 and not be swayed by people who don't like it. There's a good reason there are so many BBs to choose from :-)

To further clarify, the ability to put the 8530 into 'Standby Mode' (thus locking the keyboard from accidental activation) indeed does work by pressing & holding the center Media button atop the phone. I'm running OS 5.0.0.337 — and this function is there. Don't forget the other way to lock your 8530; which is to hold the Asterisk key for a couple seconds. (Doing this will actually lock the device; requiring your Device Password if you have in fact set one). Regarding the 3 dedicated Media keys on the top of the phone: I scoffed at these buttons when I first got the phone, as I don't use the device for music at all. But... I DO use the included Voice Recorder app quite a bit - and turns out that those Media keys make navigating from one voice recording to another - (play / pause / previous) a snap! Though the 8530 initially felt a little 'cheaper' or lighter by weight when compared to my 8330, the phone is holding up well so far. Upon encasing the device in a case made by Body Glove, it feels sturdy and is ready for duty...

I Really Appreciate it im ordering this phone as i type this lol....

this really helped in my decision process i was thinking of getting the tour but this is my first blackberry and i dont travel outside the country and after a yea i can alwiasz switch so im starting with a solid cant go wrong phone =]

the "fretless" Curve keyboard is better than the Tour in my view. I had a Tour, actually two of them, for about 8 months total, and the return to the Curve keyboard was just a bonus. The real move was the trackpad! The trackballs on the tour were horrible, my second started failing within a few weeks! The trackpad should have been on Blackberries from day one! I don't care about the crappy camera (the Tour camera was decent, the curve would be of use in emergency, but not much else). Battery life is also at least double that of the Tour. As for the screen, it's just as sharp and bright subjectively as the Tour, resolution differences aside. Only thing I liked better on the tour? The LED signal was much brighter.

Will the 8530 follow suit and arrive at small carriers after the usual six months? Or less? If so, im looking at a April or May upgrade. What do you think?

I upgraded my personal phone from the BlackBerry Pearl to the new 8530. This was one of my smartest moves. The Pearl was an awesome phone, but it is no match for the Curve. I also have been issued a Curve for my workphone from my employer. So now I have twice the fun using the old Curve and the new.

p.s. The battery life is terrific!

BlackBerry 8530 Curve Violet is a fabulous mobile phone which comes with touch-sensitive optical trackpad.FT coloured screen which displays sixty five thousand colours with resolution of 320 x 240 pixels.This good looking gadget includes upgraded technologies such as EDGE and GPRS which increase speed of data transformation much faster. The best part is that this stylish smartphone runs on the BlackBerry Operating System. http://www.cdmacellulars.com/rim-blackberry-curve-8530-verizon-wireless-...

I just ordered this phone because I was entitled to a free upgrade. Will this be an upgrade/downgrade from a 8130 Pearl?

Will screen resolution be an issue with the Curve since I am coming from a BB with a smaller screen? I was trying to wait for the new Tour with trackpad AND Wi-Fi but decided to go ahead with the upgrade.

I don't like the fact that this phone has been rated as an entry level device. I am a long time Bb user and I don't see this as an entry level device. I think whether seasoned or a new BB user, this device will be well liked.

I had the Tour and had 4 of them. All had trackball issues and the 4th one I decided to not activate, but sell and let someone else have the headache. I jumped onto the Curve and it has been great. I don't have an issue with the screen resolution or browsing. I don't have a problem reading on it, the camera is ok. I do wish it had the 3.2 camera like the Tour, but the photos are ok. I happen to like the 5.0 OS on the Curve much MUCH better than that of the Tour. I had downgraded back to the 4.7 on the Tour It was horrible and I don't know how they could say it was an upgrade from the 4.7 OS

The last trackball not only was lagging, but it just got stuck and would not budge. I really couldn't wait for the new Bold and am happy with the Curve so far. I haven't been able to try the WIFI yet. But even so, the browsing hasn't been an issue being a lower grade than the Tour. I didn't even notice it till a Verizon rep cut it down and said I had taken a step down from the Tour. One opinion. I don't think so.

Anyone reading this post can take a deep breath and know they will like the Curve 8530. Don't fret about what people may say or not say. Once you have that little power horse in your hand.......it will be over for you. I love it