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RIM has primed the Curve 8520 with Wi-Fi, GPRS and Edge as well as WAP and Bluetooth, but as a cheaper model than most smartphones it doesn't come with a 3G module. For many consumers this won't be a deal-breaker - after all, RIM is aiming the Curve 8520 at newcomers to the smartphone market and 3G isn't as prevalent as other mobile connection options.

The strength of the GPRS or Edge connection and a Wi-Fi logo for when there's an active connection are shown at the top right. Over GPRS/Edge in our offices we were able to grab the 264KB WeatherEye application from the BlackBerry App World portal, download and install it in less than 90 seconds. The BlackBerry App World link is of course preinstalled and features prominently on the uncluttered main screen. RIM says it now has more than 2,000 approved apps and these can be easily searched through by type, price, reviews rating and so on. Installed apps and their status are listed.

Neatly arrayed beside the App World icon are the email, phone lock, media manager, web browser and instant messaging icons. Any of these can be switched for other applications if you prefer, while pressing the BlackBerry hardware button just below the screen brings up a list of installed programs and features.

You can move items, archive them in a folder, hide or delete them all using the BlackBerry button. When you are using an application this button acts as a context-sensitive menu, so whie the camera is in use it will let you switch to video camera mode, adjust camera white balance, image size or add effects.

An increasingly important feature for many users will be how well the BlackBerry implements web browsing capabilities. A big advantage here is that you can directly enter a web address and go straight to the site in question. This is far more straightforward than on many devices, which attempt to reroute you to their own portals.