RIM sent me a BlackBerry 8520 to check out, but Andrew beat me and posted his hands-on review first. However, I still wanted to post a few of my thoughts about the device since I have had a chance to use the Curve 8320, Curve 8900, and BlackBerry Tour over the last few months. I think BlackBerry devices like the Curve 8520 show why it would be beneficial for carriers to start promoting family data plans and giving back a bit to consumers.
The Curve 8520 is priced at $129.99 while the Curve 8900 is priced at $149.99 (both after discounts and contracts) so I really have a difficult time seeing why the 8520 is a compelling device for someone to purchase. The Curve 8900 has one of the best QWERTY keyboards I have ever used on a BlackBerry device and a stunning display while the 8520 is more similar to the Curve 8320 keyboard and has just a decent display. There are hardware differences, primarily the touch sensitive track pad and top mounted media buttons.
I was quite surprised by the touch sensitive trackpad and after a week or so of use I found I could easily switch from the trackball to the trackpad. It was very sensitive and didn't require as much movement as I thought it would to navigate around the display. The media buttons are handy to have for quick access to controlling media and with the 3.5mm headset jack I could see it working well for media fans.
With the Curve 8520 priced at $130 and lower (something like just $75 at WalMart) I think these BlackBerry devices may start appealing a bit more to the teen crowd. However, to use a BlackBerry you need a data plan and I highly doubt parents are going to pay $25+ for each line on a family plan. I only have one data plan, mine, on a family plan of five people and think there is an opportunity here for T-Mobile to charge something like $5 to $10 for each additional phone for data access. Given that we pay for 5GB of data with our monthly "unlimited" data plans why can't carrier allow any phones on a family plan to use up to that 5GB limit for no additiional cost?