Verizon Curve 8530
Soundbite: Low end Blackberry Curve–cute and cheap.
Price: $99 with two-year contract at Verizon.
Hardware: The 8530 is surprisingly, light & compact while remaining durable. Specifically, although the faceplate and backplate are made from a typical plastic, the upper and lower portions of the back of the 8530, as well as the sides and the corners, are rubber. because of the rubber, the 8530 can handle quite a few more drops and bumps than previous BlackBerry models.
- Keyboard: The keyboard on the 8530 has the soft rounded buttons, unlike the buttons of the tour and bold which are raised in the top left corner of each key. Comparing the soft keys to the raised keys found on the tour I found benefits to each. The soft keys are flat at the top, and thus don’t dig into your fingers when you push down on them. But when skimming your thumb across the keypad, it is harder to land on the right key as fast. The raised keys make it easier to stop at a desired key when skimming across the keypad, but dig into your fingers when you press on them. If you are used to the raised keys, this could take a little bit of time to master.
- Music Buttons: There are three music buttons at the top of the 8530 (like the 8520) for controlling the music at any time. Hitting the play button will take you to the media folder. While the music is in play, the buttons will all help to control the music. The availability of the buttons are a nice version of universal access, but I think the music interface is going to have to really step up its game before anyone really starts caring about music buttons.
- Button Bumps: On each side of the 8530 there are bump like buttons that are really cute and subtle, but a little hard to push. The buttons access the camera, volume and voice controls. Kudos to RIM for trying to find creative new ways to offer more control buttons without adding user confusion.
- Camera: One truly sore point is that the 8530 only has a 2 megapixel camera and no flash. With offerings close to 10 megapixels in some cameraphones today, 2 megapixels really just doesn’t cut it anymore. 2 Megapixels is ok when pictures are meant to stay on a small screened phone. But when using a phone as smart as the BlackBerry, you are going to want to email and send your pictures around. When you do that, the 2 megapixels are going to seem awfully inadequate. In addition, one of BlackBerries great features has been the mobile camera flash, because without it the only pictures that you can really take are outside in daylight. Thus, while normal in reference to some other phones, it is sad to see it omitted here.
- Trackpad: An added bonus however, is the fact that the 8530, like most new Blackberries right now, sports a new trackpad instead of the old trackball. If you haven’t had a chance to try out a new trackpad yet, they are really fantastic and make for easier navigation through longer lists of data, and easier selection by hitting a whole button instead of the top of a track-ball.
Compatibility: Out of the box Mac compatibility, great for us Mac lovers.
Verizon Software: The 8530 comes with pre-installed Verizon specific software such as the GPS enabled Verizon Navigator, and Verizon visual voicemail.
- Navigator: The Navigator is actually pretty solid. It isn’t just an arial view google map, its a ground level 3 dimensional map with arrows and directions just like you would find with high end standalone navigation units. However, be cautioned that no matter what your settings are, the woman who tells you where you are going and when to turn is super loud which might be helpful when driving alone but annoying when others are in the car.
Bottom Line: A pretty solid update for the Curve line of phones. Nothing high end and nothing to write home about, but for those looking for the cheapest Blackberry available they are going to be very happy.