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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Blackberry Curve 8520 Smartphone ownership review

Blackberries were once prized possessions of senior corporate executives. The small wonders using which they used to take million dollar business decisions while on the move…Now the device has become fairly common and has lost its exclusivity. Cheapest blackberry costs under 7k now.

I’m using a blackberry 8520 curve since about an year and here’s quick review.

At the first look, its sleek, trendy and once you get used to it, it is highly addictive. Typing a mail or SMS is now much more convenient compared to a non-QWERTY phone. Blackberry mailing service gets your latest mail from your webmail and pushes it into your device. Lot of applications readily available to be able to use Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Google talk and sundry other stuff.

It does increase productivity of business people by facilitating instant email access. The address book has so many fields to hold entire biodata of a person, only thing missing was provision to hold his/her twitter handle and an ability to write a biography of the contact at the press of a button.

I’m not using Blackberry Messenger, as I felt I don’t need yet another messenger option since I’m already overloaded with half a dozen communication channels (twitter, fb, gtalk, mails, calls, SMS  etc)

The aircel network I used with the phone wasn’t one of the strongest outside metros. Not sure weak network contributed to phone’s battery and other loads.

What’s not good in Blackberry Curve 8520?
I’m not finding the device reliable enough. Its battery drains fast. Initially a fully charged battery wouldn’t even last till evening when used extensively. Then I uninstalled Gtalk for bb application and also foursquare and now the charge lasts for about 12 hours in normal usage. (Almost all smartphones have the same problem. Compared to a typical handset which is used only when there’s a call to make/receive or SMS to send/read, smart phones are used all through the day- to check mails, to read tweets, to use maps, to chat and so on. This means a smart phone’s standby time is limited and its screens and processors will be active most of the time. Thus naturally battery will drain fast.) My Sony Ericson W705 lasts close to a week without charge, but Blackberry won’t survive full 24 hours if used extensively without charging.

Busy Bee: I’ve noticed that the device goes into Busy Mode at its own will and takes its own sweet time to become usable again. (Refer screenshot) This doesn’t happen frequently, but happens when you’ve some urgent work to do or sometime even while the call is in progress. There’s no logic to predict when or why this hangs or how it can be prevented. Device doesn’t ask us if it can go busy to install some updates (or whatever it wants to do)and gets busy whenever it feels like. There’s no way to tell the phone to pause whatever it is doing for a while, nor does restarting the phone fixes the problem. Only option is to look at the phone helplessly for several minutes for it to finish its personal work (Microsoft Windows at least works after restarting) Battery drains even faster when this happens. I did check some support forums, which suggested that this is due to cache overflow and clearing browser history and cache should solve the problem. Didn’t find that practical.
blackberry 8520-error-screen
I’ve been lazy to update with latest firmwares and that could be a cause. Not sure if everyone are facing this issue, but I guess just like Windows Operating System for computers, smart phone OS are also likely to hang occasionally under overload or other factors.

Trackball problems: My trackball and other controls are working fine. No major issues. Have read about others complaining about it. Getting a problematic BB fixed by BB official service centre is also reportedly a painful process. (You may have to leave your phone with them for several days) There’re many unofficial vendors who fix the problem faster and cheaper.

The S key, probably the most used key, has showing signs of trouble as it now needs extra pressure to produce the letter.

Couple of features I wish Blackberry Curve 8520 model had:
  • Option to delete multiple SMS’s/mails at once (is there a way that I’m not aware of)
  • Option to search within emails
  • Display emails as conversations
  • Sync emails with webmail to remove deleted mails
  • Option to fetch older mails
  • When a contact has more than one numbers, automatically dial next available number if he is not reachable on the first
  • Can’t manage facebook pages for which we’re admin, from Facebook for Blackberry app
  • Updates to apps should happen silently in the background when the phone is idle (like how Chrome updates itself). Downloading and installing an app every time there’s some updates is a pain
  • If the processor gets too busy and system is about to hang, user should be alerted, so that he/she can close/uninstall few unwanted apps or take other preventive measures
  • Lot of Chinese manufacturers provide secondary battery with the phone, to prevent people from complaining of poor battery. RIM can adapt the idea too
  • Way2SMS, 160by2, Indyarocks and other such web based free SMS service providers should provide a smartphone app.. People can save on national SMS charges
Blackberry 8520 is not 3G enabled but it’s expensive cousins are. Overall the device was good value for money an year ago. Not sure if the same can be said today also, due to flooding of so many Android based smart phones-which are available at better price ranges. Due to its battery concerns, Blackberry 8520 is not an ideal travel partner. A backup phone or additional battery will be required if travelling for more than 24 hours without power source. Its fine if your company provides it, but if I’ve to spend my own money, I’d seriously evaluate other options.

RIM’s ongoing battle with Indian Govt over security issues is still unresolved. Need to watch out how this tug of war turns out to be.

Disclaimer: Personal observations and experience only. I’ve not used other smartphones long enough to compare. Individual experiences may vary. Smart phone performance depends on lot of factors such as signal strength, no of apps running and so on


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5 comments:

Mridula said...

I use a Samsung GT-S5560 and even if I tried I would not be able to write beyond 5 lines about it :D What a detailed review!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

thanks.. :)

Sankara Subramanian C said...

nice review man. comes at a time when I am looking to move to a SMART email phone.

Parag said...

I am using this phone 8 months. I am very happy with the performance. All the applications are working fine with it. Camera has not been very disappointing and music quality is also good.
BlackBerry Curve 8520 Review

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Sankara:
Thanks. Guess you're having good time with Samsung...

Parag: Thanks for sharing your experience

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