By Rosemary Hattersley Tech Advisor | on May 10, 2009
Price When Reviewed: depends on contract
Using a Wi-Fi connection we were able to access the full Digital Arts website and, by clicking on the heading for a story of interest, we were able to zoom in to it. You can zoom in incrementally or jump to a super-zoomed version by pressing down firmly on the touchpad. The text 'jaggies' aren't smoothed out as quickly as on an iPhone, though.
On occasion we've found the iPhone isn't that great if you want to select an entry field on a web page. Here, however, we were able to accurately insert our cursor and enter a comment on a news story without delay - and without waiting for our smartphone to realise that a keyboard was needed. The Qwerty keyboard on the Curve 8520 earns its keep here. The iPhone definitely has the edge for web browsing though, with a larger screen and the ability to push, pinch and pull pages.
Of course, the web isn't just about pages full of text-based information these days. For the ultimate test we browsed to YouTube.com, at which point we were prompted to switch to WAP for media streaming. The parkour (free-running) clip we viewed first wasn't the best quality and, indeed, didn't look fantastic on the phone, though the sound was more than adequate. However, we then tried watching the same Apollo 11 Sea of Tranquility clip we recently used to test the Sony Walkman X Series player and the Toshiba TG01 we were rather more impressed.
The delicate soundtrack sounded good even over a fairly poor web connection and, though we weren't surprised to find it stuttered and needed a few moments to buffer, playback was more than adequate. A 3G feed would obviously pay dividends, though, as viewing the same clip streamed straight from YouTube on an iPhone 3G proved.
All in all, the BlackBerry Curve 8520 smartphone is an impressive piece of telephonic gadgetry for the money. We've yet to have a chance to test out its battery life but based on all the other BlackBerry handsets we've tried, expect it to be unfazed bv being in standby for a period of two weeks and then springing into action again. We'd love a better resolution camera and, if we're honest, will be scampering back to the iPhone for its superior web experience. The omission of 3G doesn't feel like a big deal, however. For a £200 phone or £25 on contract, though, this is a superb smartphone that we unstintingly recommend.