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Images: Hands on with the BlackBerry Curve 8520

ZDNet UK checks out RIM's entry-level smartphone, a handset that lacks 3G and GPS but uses a new input method and dedicated media keys

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Topic: Networking
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1 of 8 David Meyer/ZDNet

On Monday, ZDNet UK had the chance to check out Research In Motion's latest BlackBerry, the Curve 8520.

The smartphone is the first in RIM's line-up to use an optical trackpad for input, and the first to include dedicated media playback buttons.

Although pricing has not yet been announced, RIM has said the entry-level handset is intended to be its cheapest yet.

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2 of 8 David Meyer/ZDNet

The 8520 has softer curves than other BlackBerry smartphones. That gives it a feel that is more in line with modern handsets such as the Palm Pre, compared with other RIM handsets.

The picture above also shows the BlackBerry's 3.5mm headphone jack and USB connector.

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3 of 8 David Meyer/ZDNet

The media playback buttons mark the 8520 as one of the more consumer-focused BlackBerry smartphones.

The buttons allow the user to easily fast forward, rewind, play and pause media on the device, as well as to mute sound.

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4 of 8 David Meyer/ZDNet

The optical trackpad was, in ZDNet UK's experience, easy to use, if a little over-reactive on its default setting — the sensitivity of the input method is adjustable, however.

As it marks a departure from the trackball used in RIM's earlier consumer-focused handsets, it will take a while to get used to.

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5 of 8 David Meyer/ZDNet

The sides of the 8520 are rubberised — another departure for BlackBerry smartphones.

This gives a good grip to the device and possibly makes it less fragile when dropped, but makes an odd contrast to the shiny black plastic used on the rest of the surface.

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6 of 8 David Meyer/ZDNet

This picture of the battery cover shows the contrast between the rubberised sides and the shiny black plastic used across the rest of the 8520.

The battery cover felt mostly secure, but had a slight creakiness to it.

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7 of 8 David Meyer/ZDNet

The Curve 8520 has an 1150mAh battery, which RIM claims will provide 4.5 hours of talk time.

The device allows for the hot-swapping of memory, so the user does not need to turn the phone off to switch microSD cards. The handset comes with a 2GB card as standard.

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8 of 8 David Meyer/ZDNet

As the 8520 is intended as an entry-level BlackBerry, two significant compromises have been made in the omission of 3G and GPS.

This leaves users with GPRS (2.5G) mobile internet speeds, unless they are using the handset's 802.11b/g Wi-Fi connection.

The BlackBerry Curve 8520 is expected to be launched through as-yet-unannounced UK operators in early-to-mid-August.

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