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Christmas Gift Guide

RIM BlackBerry Curve 8520

New design

Curve 8520 vs. Curve 8900

Optical track pad

Display

External controls

Pocket friendly

QWERTY keyboard

Camera

Decent picture quality

The RIM BlackBerry Curve 8520 is an entry-level smartphone available from T-Mobile for $129.99 with a two-year contract. However, you can also get the device at Wal-Mart for just $48.88 with a two-year new agreement or a qualified upgrade.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
The Curve 8520 is probably most notable for its design since it brings a couple of new tricks to the table: an optical trackpad and dedicated media keys.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
The overall look of the Curve 8520 is similar to the Curve 8900, and the two models actually share the same measurements at 4.3 inches tall by 2.3 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick. The Curve 8520 is a smidge lighter, but we thought the phone felt slightly plasticky.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
Replacing the trackball navigator is the optical trackpad. Though we weren't huge fans of the one on the Samsung Omnia, we have to say the transition from the trackball to the optical trackpad on the Curve 8520 was quite easy. Aside from the difference in feel (flat versus spherical), it wasn't much of a change.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
The Curve 8520 features a 2.46-inch TFT display that shows 65,000 colors at a more lowly 320x240-pixel resolution, so it's not quite as sharp as some of the screens we've seen on the latest BlackBerrys.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
The dedicated media keys are located on top of the device (track forward, back, play/pause). On the right side, you get a volume rocker and a user-programmable button. The aforementioned controls are slightly different in that there are slight bumps along the surface rather than the traditional buttons you're used to seeing on a BlackBerry.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
You'll have no problem slipping the sleek BlackBerry Curve 8520 into a pants pocket or a purse.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
The Curve 8520's QWERTY keyboard is pretty similar to the 8900's. The buttons are pretty small and packed close together, so users with larger fingers might have some problems at first.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
The BlackBerry Curve 8520 features a 2-megapixel camera with video-recording capabilities and a 5x digital zoom.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
Picture quality was pretty good. Images were clear and colors, while not the most vibrant, didn't have a weird orange or grayish tone like some other camera phones.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
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