updated 07:50 am EDT, Mon July 27, 2009
BlackBerry Curve 8520
RIM today formally launched the long-in-development BlackBerry Curve 8520, its first more consciously low-end QWERTY smartphone. The device trims costs compared to the 8900 by using a lower-resolution 320x240 screen and a 2-megapixel camera but also marks a number of firsts in control for BlackBerries: it abandons the trackball for an optical trackpad which is ostensibly both smoother to use but also more durable. It also has dedicated media keys at the top to pause or skip tracks without having to look at the screen.
Appropriately for its music focus, it has a 3.5mm headset jack and a microSDHC slot capable of supporting up to 32GB cards. Wi-Fi is is also onboard once again for faster networking beyond what the phone's EDGE data can manage.
Notably, the new Curve is also the first meant to have full, native sync support for the Mac; when BlackBerry Desktop Software for Mac launches in September, the utility will not only serve as a conduit for iTunes music but load calendars and contacts as well as install third-party apps without having to either download them directly from the phone or use a third-party utility.
The phone releases first with T-Mobile and will support the carrier's HotSpot Calling feature for bridging between cellular and VoIP calling when on Wi-Fi. A 1GB microSD card will also come in the box. Confirming leaks, the provider says it will ship the phone to stores on August 5th but only lists a small cost savings over the 8900, as the 8520 will cost $130 when linked to a two-year plan.