Sprint has recently introduced the BlackBerry Curve 8530, which sits between the BlackBerry Pearl and the Tour in this carrier's lineup.
Based on my initial impressions, it's hard to not recommend the Curve 8530 to those looking to make the jump to a BlackBerry. It offers an innovative trackpad, Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi (currently unavailable on the Tour), 3G coverage, and a surprisingly impressive 2 megapixel camera -- all rolled into a nicely sized form factor.
Plus there's the low price: this device is just $50 with a two-year contract and $100 mail-in rebate.
BUILD & DESIGN
The Curve 8500 series first debuted on T-Mobile and has since made its way to Sprint and Verizon. Not surprisingly, the 8530 is virtually identical to the 8520, but the Sprint offering feels as if it's more well-built. With the T-Mobile 8520, pressing one key would move the entire keyboard slightly, a problem that has been resolved in the new version.
The most distinctive new feature of the 8500 is the trackpad, which replaces the trackball from earlier Curve models. It quite simply rocks. There is almost no learning curve and after using the trackpad it just seems nonsensical to use a trackball.
The overall design seems to be more consumer friendly, rather than for the business user. The most obvious example of this is the keys on the top of the phone for easily selecting previous, next, and play/pause when playing music or video.
There's a dark rubber ribbon that runs around the outside of this BlackBerry that covers the traditional volume and convenience keys. This stands in stark contrast with the chrome accents found on most other BlackBerrys.
The BlackBerry 8530 features that latest version of RIM's operating system, BlackBerry OS 5.0. This offers notable improvements over previous versions that are noticeable from the get-go.
For example, when setting up your e-mail addresses, the new OS will pre-populate a list of providers after the "@". The 5.0 OS offers fast two-way contact syncing between your device and certain email accounts (Gmail, in my case) a feature that works to bridge the gap between the BIS (personal) and BES (corporate) BlackBerry experience.
The Curve 8530 boasts a 2 megapixel camera that records video as well as stills. Though it lacks the flash, 3.2 megapixels, and auto-focus found on some other models, the camera doesn't disappoint.
The device also comes with a slew of Sprint-badged applications such as a Sprint Music Store, SprintTV, Sprint NASCAR Coverage, and Sprint NFL coverage. A more detailed account of these will be provided in the full write-up.
Overall there are a lot of great features working for the BlackBerry Curve 8530.
I did notice that the device would occasionally hang, and there is no GSM support in this . These were the two standout cons I noticed but they seem a small price to pay for an otherwise seemingly-great device.
Hold on for my full review of the 8530, which will be available in the next few weeks.
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