Blackberry Curve 8520 Review - Pros and Cons, Unboxing Video - The Definitive Review by a BB Curve 8520 Owner !

Miss Chayie Maligalig, a dear TechPinas friend, has long told me about her desire to own a Blackberry.

"[I've decided to get BB Curve 8520. I like the trackpad and the price point]"

, she messaged me on YM a few days before Christmas 2009. And from then, I knew, Chayie won't settle for anything else than a BB Curve 8520.

But her journey towards finally being with her BB, which she aptly named Blackie, wasn't the easiest. This review chronicles her story.



-


My waiting game with the Blackberry 8520

I have been a Nokia user for about 10 years. Ever since texting became a fad during my college days, Nokia became my phone brand of choice. But recently, another phone brand caught my interest – BlackBerry. Owning a BlackBerry became almost impossible at first because of the price but when an “affordable Berry” was released, I became excited.



The Blackberry 8520 was released in the Philippines at about August last year. It is also known as the “Gemini” and is the most affordable BlackBerry in the market today. It boasts of the “regular Blackberry” features minus the pricey tag. Among the features of the Blackberry 8520 are: Blackberry OS, 512 MHz processor and 256 MB memory, microSD capable, 2 MP camera with 5x digital zoom, GPRS, WiFi 802.11 b/g, Bluetooth, micro USB and Quad band capabilities. Another feature of the Gemini is that it is the first BlackBerry that uses a trackpad instead of the trackball. All these plus a dedicated media key for easy access of pictures, music, and video playback. But the feature that sold me out the most was the promise of “out of box Mac compatibility” because I am a Mac user and interface with my Mac is an important feature I really wanted to have in a phone.

How I got my hands on my “BlackBerry”

Since this is the "entry-level" BlackBerry, I did not expect its high demand in the market. By “high demand” I mean REALLY high and sought after. I have had many attempts to buy this phone and badgered my Dad (since this was his Christmas gift to me) quite a bit until I got my hands on one. Attempt no. 1 was when I went all the way to Greenhills on December 23 for the Smart Shockwave sale and it was out of stock.

Attempt no. 2 was when my Dad checked out the same Shockwave sale the next day, December 24 they promised to have stock already but they still did not have. Attempt no. 3 was the Smart shockwave sale again on December 29 and again they did not have. That same day somebody in the Greenhills tiangge was selling an openline unit of the Gemini almost 100 dollars more than its usual price so I declined to buy it. Not giving up, I called 3 online stores two of which declined to deliver to my house and the third store said they could deliver but they did not have stock. I was already very frustrated and was considering to just get the second-best option another phone.

Luckily, fate intervened and through his network of contacts, my Dad was able to get a Blackberry 8520 for me finally! My Dad got my BB 8520 at an online store in multiply. So finally, finally I got my Gemini last January 11. First thing I did was I got my digital camera to take a very short unboxing video.



Basically my short video shows the BB 8520 package contents: the phone itself, battery, charger, micro USB cable and 3.5mm stereo headset for the music player. Also included in the package are various written documentation like a starter guide, user’s manual and the safety and product information. Notably there was a CD called Blackberry User Tools (the contents of which I will discuss in the next section of this review).

First impressions 



Upon taking out my Gemini from the box, the first thing that surprised me was how small and compact it felt while I held it in my hand. I wanted another color than black but since now in the country only the black Gemini is widely available, the black color was more than okay after my long long wait to finally get my hands on the phone. The only problem with the black Gemini is that admittedly it is a finger print magnet. Next, I took out the package contents one by one. As I took out the phone, the first thing I noticed was the back part. At first, I thought there was a dent on the lower part but it turns out it was the part that would allow me to lift off the back cover of the phone to install the SIM card and the battery. Because of my excitement I forgot to use the Blackberry 101 (a tutorial included in the CD) and looked for a youtube video instead to teach me how to install the battery and SIM card. After I completed this task, I was planning to charge my phone when I realized that I needed a converter because the socket was not the usual one. Thankfully, my phone could be charged via micro-USB and so it became an excuse to try-out the feature that sold this phone to me the most – Mac compatibility.

From my old trusty Nokia 2760 I discovered a code to be able to use iSync on my Macbook to transfer my contacts. That was step one. Second, I used the Blackberry device manager (can be found online and also included in the Blackberry user tools CD) which I installed to transfer contacts from my Macbook to my Blackberry and wala! Around five to ten minutes, my contacts were already transferred to my Blackberry and I was ready to go. I was surprised at how easy and seamless it was use to the BlackBerry Device Manager with my Macbook. It was almost effortless compared to the syncing I had to do before with my other phones. Charging via USB took around 3 to 4 hours for the phone to be fully charged.

Next I turned on my phone and the first thing I noticed was how easy the BlackBerry OS was to use. Since it is my first BlackBerry I was worried that the interface would be difficult but I was proven wrong. Calling was a breeze as audio was pretty clear and phone shape was a great fit on the hand. Messaging was great with the big font and the continuous thread style of messages enabled me to review my txt messages like a chat conversation. Contact list was unremarkable but the big font and simple interface made it easy to use same goes for the Calendar. The Calendar was also capable of being changed from monthly, weekly and daily view plus the ability to add an alert to remind you of appointments but that’s not all, there’s even a future that allows you to view your “agenda” meaning your appointments and your free time. There is also a Search application that allows the Gemini user to browse the Gemini’s content. Another useful function is the led indicator light which lights in different colors depending on what it is indicating like if the BlackBerry has low battery and needs to be charged, to Wifi and Bluetooth active connections and incoming e-mail and SMS messages.

Some other applications include: Media, of which the detailed media keys make it easy to access pictures, music player, videos and ringtones; Clock, which includes a timer and a stopwatch; Games, which include Brickbreaker, Word Mole, Texas Hold Em King 2, Sudoku and Klondike; and the Applications folder which include MemoPad, Tasks, Calculator, Video Camera, Voice Notes Recorder, Voice Dialing and the applications which please me the most which are the Documents to Go viewer and editor (Word, Powerpoint and Excel). The least familiar application to me was the Options folder as I had to tweak around with it a few times to familiarize myself.


Chayie with Blackie, her Blackberry Curve 8520


Going online

A Blackberry wouldn’t be a Blackberry without the Blackberry Internet Service (BIS) that allows the user to be connected online all the time. It took me awhile to get my BIS running because I am using a prepaid account. While postpaid users of two mobile phone companies, Smart and Globe can get their BIS activated via the company and just include it in their monthly bill as a data plan, prepaid users have to register and have to use techniques so that load is not eaten up when registering to the BIS. I was able to activate my BIS by asking for help from some other Blackberry users I found in another tech site.

Registration ran smooth because I followed advice from the forum I mentioned earlier. For 50 bucks I had my BIS subscription for 24 hours. It enabled me to register 2 of my email addresses to my Blackberry email settings. With this subscription I was able to use RIM’s Facebook application, Twitter via Openbeak application, and the HTML browser in my BlackBerry PLUS the most important feature, Push email. Not to be forgotten is the BlackBerry messenger (BBM) which is a unique feature to BlackBerry devices.

Push email allowed me to view my yahoo and gmail account almost like regular text messages. Plus I sent test e-mail messages to myself and the delivery was fast plus I could even attach a file to the e-mail. Now, that’s mobile office in a small package which is great. I loved the Facebook and Twitter applications too. The HTML browser works alright, very easy to use, font size okay plus did I mention zooming with trackpad was a breeze. Using BBM is like being in a chatroom with other BlackBerry users and I can say the exclusivity and mobility of this feature is quite nice. Going online is really at the heart of the Blackberry and I believe no other phone makes push email, instant messaging, surfing and social networking as easy and breezy as a Blackberry.

Warning though: going online will approximately let your battery last for two days on a single charge.

No phone is perfect

While this review has been talking non-stop of the great features of the Gemini of course I would admit that no phone is perfect. One of the first few things that disappointed me at first was the screen. I can’t say I was not warned because other reviews have stated that since this is an entry-level BlackBerry the screen resolution was perhaps one of the things skimped on. It took awhile for my eyes to get used to the screen and once I’ve gotten used to it, it became alright and I no longer considered it too dark.

Aside from the screen, I left out the Camera application for this part of the review because at first when I used it indoors on a cloudy day I was disappointed. I should say this is definitely not a phone you would purchase for its camera although its video camera takes quite clear videos. The technique to the still camera since it does not have a flash is to use the appropriate settings for the picture you are going to take. I did that I was able to take passable photos that I could at least upload on Facebook.

Another noticeable downside is the lack of BlackBerry support here in the Philippines (users have not been granted access to BlackBerry App world) and also lack of a presence of a “Pinoy Blackberry user group). This also includes difficulty in finding units and accessories for the phone. Take for example when I was looking for a Micro SD card for my device, sales people in the tech store almost laughed when I asked if they had a micro SD card for the BlackBerry. Luckily, they were nice enough to allow me to try on the micro SD card if it would work, and it did. That’s when they took me seriously and asked “Isn’t the BlackBerry what the moviestars (artistas) are using?” and I said Yes. They asked if they could look at my phone and when I showed them they gave me a small discount in my SD card purchase since they said it was their first time to see a BlackBerry.

Was it worth the wait?

Over-all I would give my first BlackBerry, the 8520 Gemini an 8 over 10 rating. The two points missing would be for a camera flash and 3G connectivity, respectively.

Rounding up, here are the pros and cons of the BB 8520 for me:

PROS CONS
For the affordable
price it is a good phone and not to mention it is a BlackBerry
No camera flash
Blackberry
features in a compact device
No 3G connectivity
Fun and easy
to use especially with a data plan – connectivity at its best
Black colored model fingerprint
magnet
An important
PRO- out of box Mac compatibility
Not enough support for Filipino
users (my wishlist includes an official Blackberry Pinoy user group
and more affordable accessories)
BlackBerry
Messenger
Battery life not too long
if you go online a lot

My verdict: it was worth the wait because life with a BlackBerry is never dull (remember my story about looking for a Micro SD card?) :) Admittedly, I still have a lot to learn about the “BlackBerry world” but I can say it is a game worth playing and a world worth conquering.


-

Thank you so much for sharing your story and review with us, Chayie! I really appreciate it. :) I know that a lot of people, especially those who are planning to also get BB curve 8520, will benefit from your honest, informative and well-written review. I wish you and Blackie the best!

Dear TP Reader: Want TechPinas to feature your gadget review? Email us at events.nobounds@gmail.com . We'd love to hear your story!




Enter your email address to subscribe to free daily TechPinas newsletter:


34 comments:

  1. well having to use blackberry for 4 years now... go this site... we are all here... and i so love the BB that i'm called a crackberry... :D

    http://www.pinoyexchange.com/forums/showthread.php?t=380374

    and i created this facebook page as well.. try to search this in facebook

    "BlackBerry users, Dito Tayo! (Philippines)"

    ReplyDelete
  2. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Lucy

    http://forextradin-g.net

    ReplyDelete
  3. hi good review.. i had mine last January too.. but you said uve charge ur BB for 4 hours? mine only took 2 1/2 hours to charge and the battery is not that good.. how many hrs usually before you recharge it again? i think my bat is broken.. i only use my bb on internet browsing and IM chatting. no calls no txt.. and not even using the media player. but still it had only 12 hrs of usage..

    ReplyDelete
  4. Same here 4-5 hours of charging with 24 hours of heavy usage (BBM, Internet Surfing, ubertwitter, YM, SMS and Calls).

    I guess normal yung ganung katagal na charging. sa 8520.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi! Thanks for reading my review. Charging that took 4 hours using my USB connected to the computer. Ngayon using my charger around 3 hours siguro or less. Yeah I agree mabilis ang battery maubos when you use it BIS services even WiFi. Was just surprised kasi parang ang dali din uminit ng battery.

    Especially on Wifi watching youtube naku. Parang hours lang low batt na. I wish there will be a battery released for 8520 na mas long use and will not get too hot agad.

    ReplyDelete
  6. ok tanx again sa info.. now I know na normal lang sa bb un.. kala ko i just wasted money for this but frankly sulit na sulit nmn ang mga apps. ng bb mgagamit talaga di tulad ng ibang brands na ang dami daming apps. la nmn wenta ung iba... sana pag uwi ko dyan sa pinas full service din ang mga providers sa BB users..

    ReplyDelete
  7. have you tried the IM+ lite app. ? its is a all in one IM app. including facebook ym google msn skype and tweeter.. and more,... realtime din and recieving ng im's.. and you can use all of your accounts at the same time.. and meron din xng notifications.. as in parang nkkreceive ka lang ng sms... try it go to shapeservices.com freedownload yung lite version ung 4.1 version nmn may kamahalan pero you can use the skype call via VIOP.. try it if it will work dyan sa pinas.. Dito ako sa KSA and prepaid lang ang gamit ko..

    ReplyDelete
  8. Omg! All of youll have BB curve!!! Lucky bugs!!! Im getting mine in less than a week!!! My story is kinda long about why I havent gotten it since so long... My mom doent want to buy me an expensive phone with a delicate trackball because when you put the trackball phone in and out of your pocket, it comes out. So the Bold came out but it was beyond my budget. After two years of me wanting a blackberry, the curve came out and I am getting it next week. It is literally a phone built for me. It has all the features I love and use and it is light with the trackpad...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. paano po in activate un ym sa bb.. nag signg in ako pero lumalabas "coonection error: please ensure correct device time" thanks.. anu po ibig sbihin nun?

    ReplyDelete
  10. use the bb internet service it wont work if you are not subscribing.. try The IM+ lite multi messenger lahat andun na facebook skype ym gtalk. and the best is you dont have to subscribe the bb intrnet service...

    ReplyDelete
  11. one question, i cannot use the internet explorer of my bb curve 8520 using my wifi access at home. pls help me. tnx.

    ReplyDelete
  12. go to the browser options then browser configuration change it into Hotspot browser..

    ReplyDelete
  13. how much tong bb na to ngayon?

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have always wanted a BB pero it's always beyond my wallet's reach. I like the features especially that it has WiFi. It's a must nowadays.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Around 13k na lang. Plus they've come out with new colors. Suya ako :) I wanted white pero oks na rin tong black :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. hello ms. chayie,

    i already have my BB curve for a month now...i bought it at greenhills last april. BIS is inactivated, can you help me with this one? i really want to maximize my BB's features..please please.. here's my email.. minayramos@gmail.com or rochelleramos20@yahoo.com.sg

    hope you can help me..please..thank you very very much..i'll wait for your response..thanks so much...

    ReplyDelete
  17. how much is bb curve 8520 in greenhills..anyone?

    ReplyDelete
  18. need help on how to set up email and txt messages as thread. my text and email are both in text messaging format. how do i set it up please?

    ReplyDelete
  19. i need help on how to start using my browser via wi fi atn home, i already have my wi fi connection in my bb. but wen i started browsing, wen i checked out for my load balance i noticed that i was charged while i was browsing i tot it is already free because i am on a wifi. how to do start that certain browser using a wifi connection?..

    ReplyDelete
  20. H, has this ever happened to you? I turned off my BIS to use my wifi connection at home. Nothing except Twitter would work. I could not send emails nor access Facebook nor the browser. May specific setting ba ito? I loaded to activate my BIS so everything worked again, then I turned it off and tried my wifi, lo and behold umaandar na ulit sa lahat. Am i just missing something sa settings? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  21. i need a new battery ...where can i buy the original one and how much will it cost me...helppp someone ..tnx

    ReplyDelete
  22. hello...need help on how to activate the BIS...new pa ako sa BB world and gusto ko sana maenjoy lahat ng features nya...my email add angeltoo1970@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  23. This was helpful! Planning to finally buy that 8520 i've been eyeing for some time :) Is it possible to get in touch with the author? I'd like to get tips on getting a postpaid BB account. Thanks Chayie! rc_co@rocketmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  24. galing :) question po, may available na po bang BIS sa sun?

    ReplyDelete
  25. hi Miss Chayie..can u email please on how i can activate my BIS..im a smart prepaid user..tnx..kindly help..GODBLESS..
    janaiahd@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi Miss Chayie! I own a 8520 too but I do not know how to register my BIS. >_< Will you email me the instructions? Or just helpful links where I can read about registering my BIS on a prepaid account? Please and thank you Maam. :)

    daijobo_13@yahoo.com.ph

    ReplyDelete
  27. i don't now how much the blackberry cellphone can you help me

    ReplyDelete
  28. There's a new curve now with 3G connectivity.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hi everyone! Just saw your comments now.

    I'm using SMART Blackberry Prepaid service. I learned to activate it with the help of other forum friends.

    This is how I did it. First make sure MMS/GPRS is turned on. send MMS ON to 211.

    And then register for the Blackberry package type in BB DAY* send to 2207
    (*I've never tried BB WEEK or BB MONTH yet- weekly/monthly subscription)

    If you are registering for the FIRST TIME go to smart.blackberry.com and register your phone, if not just repeat steps one and two and your BIS will be activated in a few minutes.

    If BIS won't activate meaning gprs signal remains small (gprs). Turn off the phone and wait for the signal to turn caps (GPRS) which means BIS has been activated.

    Piece of advice, should these steps still not activate your BIS, go to a SMART center and have your settings checked. No offense but calling *888 is useless. When I had a problem, I went to Smart and my settings were fixed. calling *888 did not help at all. or you can contact customer care also on twitter at twitter/SMARTcares.

    Thanks for all the comments.

    For the other questions:
    - My phone was bought from kimstore.multiply.com
    - I have not so much knowledge about BB postpaid account but from what I heard so far some applications maybe a cause of continuous billing that's why I'm scared to shift to postpaid
    - If you have a data cable (usually comes with BB package) then transferring photos should not be a problem
    - Sun from what I understand only has Postpaid services offered for BB
    - No need for battery pull if you have application such as Restart me. Beside I don't get the white screen of death that often
    - new battery? try gadget grocery
    - I use WiFi on my BB at home. I think the case sometimes is when the WiFi is Smartbro and then you are using your BB on Smart prepaid baka ma-charge though I'm not sure Im just stating the possibility
    - Yes I just recently began using IM+lite

    - Thanks for all the comments guys. Though I'm no expert Ill try to answer your questions with the best of my knowledge based on my experience

    Chayie

    ReplyDelete
  30. Another piece of advice for SMART Blackberry prepaid users

    EVERY time you register for the Blackberry service ALWAYS send MMS ON to 211 before registering. This is to prevent your load from being eaten up. I learned this technique and so far its been working for me.

    Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  31. basta ko happy ako sa blackberry 8520 ko...actually i like it dahil lang sa qwerty pad nito and sensor track nya. compare naman sa nagtouch screen ako, nakakainis magtext mabagal ang respond mali mali pa ang napipindot at infairness malakas ang sounds nya sa music kahit video pwedeng pwede ka manuod, ung sa micro sd sa cdr king lang meron nun, wala namang micro sd na exclusive lang for blackberry so kahit anong brand name yan basta micro sd swak na swak yan sa blackberry.

    ReplyDelete
  32. wala jologs na blackberry ngayon :(

    ReplyDelete
  33. very nice review on BB 8520. I am thinking of buying one later, especially that here in dubai, it's a lot cheaper  and now they come with some freebies too.

    ReplyDelete