Unlike the RIM BlackBerry Tour, the Curve 8530 is more of an entry-level device so you don't get all of the high-end features like world roaming capabilities and a high-resolution display. However, that doesn't the mean the phone skimps out on features. In fact, it offers one notable feature even the Tour lacks, which is integrated Wi-Fi.
It also improves on its predecessor, the BlackBerry Curve 8330, with a next-generation 528MHz processor, an optical trackpad, dedicated media controls, and updated OS. Other highlights include 3G support, Bluetooth, GPS, and a 2-megapixel camera.
The overall form factor of the Curve 8530 is pretty much the same as the BlackBerry Curve 8520, which the GSM version of the phone available from T-Mobile. The smartphone measures 4.29 inches high by 2.36 inches wide by 0.55 inch thick and weighs 3.7 ounces. It's light and compact, so you should have no problem slipping this into a pants pocket.
However, we thought the phone felt a bit cheap and plasticky, and just didn't have the same solid feel as the BlackBerry Bold 9700 (pictured here) and BlackBerry Tour or even the BlackBerry Curve 8900. It's not fragile by any means, but we certainly noticed the difference in construction.
One other area that takes a hit is the display. The Curve 8530 has a 2.4-inch, 320x240-pixel TFT display that doesn't quite pop as the ones on the other BlackBerry models. Text, images, and videos, while still viewable, just don't look quite as sharp or vibrant.
There are bright spots to the Curve 8530's design, including dedicated media controls on top of the device. You get track forward, back, and play/pause buttons so you can operate the media player without having to using the onscreen menu. In addition, the smartphone is equipped with a standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the left side so you don't have to use any cumbersome audio adapter to plug in your headphones.
The media player isn't particularly fancy, but you do get shuffle, repeat, playlist creation, and a built-in equalize. Audio quality was quite good and videos also played back smoothly.
On the right side of the phone, you'll find a volume rocker and a customizable shortcut key. Instead of traditional buttons, these controls are more like slight bumps along the side edge covered by a rubber, soft-touch finish.
Like the most recent BlackBerrys, the Curve 8530 features an optical trackpad instead of a trackball navigator, which we prefer. We find that it's easier for scrolling through long lists and Web pages, since it's a little less laborious than continuously rolling the trackball. Plus, it's very responsive and you can adjust its sensitivity in the Settings menu. That said, the navigation controls around were a little stiff to press.
The QWERTY keyboard is similar to the other Curve models. The buttons are on the small size, so users with larger thumbs will probably have some problems with it at first. Since I have small hands, I had no problems typing messages on it.
The Curve 8530 offers synchronization with BlackBerry Enterprise server, with support
for Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Domino, or Novell GroupWise, to
deliver corporate e-mail in real time. BlackBerry Internet Service also allows you to access up to 10 personal/business POP3 or IMAP4 e-mail accounts.