Verizon BlackBerry Curve 8530 Review

38 Comments

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The BlackBerry Curve 8530 is the latest update to the Curve series. It’s just like the BlackBerry Curve 8520, only with WiFi and GPS, plus a few other minor improvements.

First off, lets talk about the major improvements: 3G and WiFi. While the 8520, the GSM version of the 8530, also has WiFi, this is new for Verizon customers. We have the Storm2 with WiFi but that’s about it when it comes to BlackBerry devices on Verizon with WiFi. We’ve heard rumors that all future BlackBerrys going to Verizon will ship with WiFi, so we’re hoping the 8530 is proof that this is true.

One of the major downsides to the 8520 was that it did not have 3G and instead ran on EDGE. As we have all seen from the countless AT&T ads attacking Verizon, the network isn’t known for having voice and data at the same time, but this isn’t the case with the 8530. Personally, I don’t use this feature often, as my calls don’t last long and most of my business is done over email. It’s also not obvious to me why you would keep your friend on the phone while you navigate the web in search for whatever information you need. In any case, when you connect your device to WiFi, it establishes a new connection to RIM’s NOC, allowing you to make calls and browse the web.

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The 8530 is virtually completely identical to the 8520 in form factor and feel. The only difference between the two devices is that the battery cover on the 8530 has a soft, almost furry feel to it. There is a slightly raised checkered pattern on the cover that gives it this feeling. Compared to the 8520, which has a hard plastic cover, it feels softer in your hands.

For more about the BlackBerry Curve 8520, read BlackBerry Cool’s setup guide for the device.

Around the time of the BlackBerry Developer Conference, we were told that the 8530 will support OpenGL. After using this device for a while and checking out some apps on App World, this feature isn’t of any real benefit just yet. Being a Qualcomm CDMA BlackBerry, the 8530 falls under the devices that will support OpenGL. This brings me to a more general point about OpenGL support. With only 2 devices in RIM’s product line that support OpenGL, there really isn’t any incentive for developers to create apps that use it. While it may be possible to write an app that has rich 3D graphics, if you can only sell it to Storm2 and 8530 users, there isn’t any point. It seems as though this feature might take at least until 2011, when more devices have launched supporting OpenGL, to be of any consequence to the platform.

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The BlackBerry Curve 8530 is running OS 5.0.0.337, which I believe is the build that it ships with when you buy it. It’s strange that RIM isn’t shipping devices with the latest BlackBerry Messenger, and instead relying on users downloading it from App World. It could be that RIM is waiting for BBM to reach a higher version before preloading it, but it’s still frustrating to see BBM version 4.7.0 on an OS 5 device.

While I didn’t expect to see a flash on the 8530, it was still a bit of a let down. The camera takes really decent pictures in the right lighting conditions, but especially with winter around the corner, the hours in which the camera can take a quality picture outside are far fewer. The 5x digital zoom is helpful, but the picture quality degrades fairly rapidly. Overall, the camera is the same as the 8520: decent but still not totally useful. This seems to be the price you pay for not paying a high price.

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The web browser on the 8530 is exactly what you would expect from a BlackBerry these days. The marketing material says the 8530 “features an enhanced web browser able to download and display web pages quickly, plus support for streaming audio and video.” Personally, I find the browser to be a little slow and slightly under par when it comes to other smartphones on the market. We’re expecting a huge web browser update from RIM in Q3/Q4 of 2010, so hopefully this will really change the way we browse the net on a BlackBerry.

Overall, I think the 8530 is a great device option for Verizon customers, who are looking to upgrade from their 8330. The device feels smooth in your hands, and it has all the features you need in a solid BlackBerry. Relative to the other devices in RIM’s product line, the 8530 is geared towards the entry-level user. We’re expecting Verizon to come out with the Tour2 fairly soon (Q1/Q2 2010), and this device would appeal more to the power user.

The BlackBerry Curve 8530 is available from Verizon for $99 on a 2 year contract, with a $100 online discount.

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  • LarryC

    You wrote: “It’s also not obvious to me why you would keep your friend on the phone while you navigate the web in search for whatever information you need.”

    Here’s why: It’s useful if you are on a (long) business conference call, and want to be able to review an email or a document (that might have been just sent) while still on the call.

  • LarryC

    You wrote: “It’s also not obvious to me why you would keep your friend on the phone while you navigate the web in search for whatever information you need.”

    Here’s why: It’s useful if you are on a (long) business conference call, and want to be able to review an email or a document (that might have been just sent) while still on the call.

  • LarryC

    You wrote: “It’s also not obvious to me why you would keep your friend on the phone while you navigate the web in search for whatever information you need.”

    Here’s why: It’s useful if you are on a (long) business conference call, and want to be able to review an email or a document (that might have been just sent) while still on the call.

  • LarryC

    You wrote: “It’s also not obvious to me why you would keep your friend on the phone while you navigate the web in search for whatever information you need.”

    Here’s why: It’s useful if you are on a (long) business conference call, and want to be able to review an email or a document (that might have been just sent) while still on the call.

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com/ Kyle

    @LarryC – Good point. That comment was more directed at entry-level consumers, a demographic I don’t see having many long conference calls. But each device has its range of enterprise and consumer.

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com/ Kyle

    @LarryC – Good point. That comment was more directed at entry-level consumers, a demographic I don’t see having many long conference calls. But each device has its range of enterprise and consumer.

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com Kyle

    @LarryC – Good point. That comment was more directed at entry-level consumers, a demographic I don’t see having many long conference calls. But each device has its range of enterprise and consumer.

  • http://www.realatrends.com/ Clark

    I tried the touch pad over the weekend. Not a fan, love the ball!

  • http://www.realatrends.com Clark

    I tried the touch pad over the weekend. Not a fan, love the ball!

  • Jason

    Can you buy this phone and connect to wifi WITHOUT a data plan?

  • Jason

    Can you buy this phone and connect to wifi WITHOUT a data plan?

  • Jason

    Can you buy this phone and connect to wifi WITHOUT a data plan??

  • Jason

    Can you buy this phone and connect to wifi WITHOUT a data plan??

  • Jason

    Can you buy this phone and connect to wifi WITHOUT a data plan??

  • Joel

    Seriously considering upgrading to this phone. Looking for some feedback on the GPS and MP3 features.

  • Joel

    Seriously considering upgrading to this phone. Looking for some feedback on the GPS and MP3 features.

  • Joel

    Seriously considering upgrading to this phone. Looking for some feedback on the GPS and MP3 features.

  • Zack

    @Jason Blackberry’s require a data plan to own the phone.

  • Zack

    @Jason Blackberry’s require a data plan to own the phone.

  • helpingout

    Thanks for the review!

    Considering the Curve 8530 is my first smartphone, I’d say the learning curve has been quite easy to overcome. I played with the phone for about an hour, and now I’ve got all my email and messaging wherever I go! Just love it!

    To anyone looking to get their own Curve 8530: you can actually get the phone for free (I found my deal at BuyCurve8530.com). I think getting the phone for free really sweetens the deal.

    On top of all that, the Verizon network has yet to let me down, which is a drastically different experience compared to my last wireless carrier…

  • helpingout

    Thanks for the review!

    Considering the Curve 8530 is my first smartphone, I’d say the learning curve has been quite easy to overcome. I played with the phone for about an hour, and now I’ve got all my email and messaging wherever I go! Just love it!

    To anyone looking to get their own Curve 8530: you can actually get the phone for free (I found my deal at BuyCurve8530.com). I think getting the phone for free really sweetens the deal.

    On top of all that, the Verizon network has yet to let me down, which is a drastically different experience compared to my last wireless carrier…

  • karamazing

    Hey, im trying to convince my dad to buy me this phone. worth it?

  • Juan

    does the wifi work without a data plan?

  • http://twitter.com/daniellkramer daniel kramer

    Today I lost my best friend and companion for 12 years. A dog named tyler. He was the best dog ever , and I miss him more then words can explain. The tears were expected , but not the eternal grief. Instead of selfishly attempting to keep him alive I chose the correct decision to end his suffering , in 30minutes I had to make the decision to end his suffering. My lose is incredible and the tears are endless. It was too soon and unexpected. My friend who outlasted every relationship I've had was so loving and their for me when no one else was. To all those who have lost such a pet I share your grief and pain.

  • http://www.Jarvisrestoration.com Jarvis

    I love the trackpad!

  • http://www.servproosu.com Mold Remediation

    I have this phone. I really like it.

  • Jdiam0nd27

    you will love it!!! I do! the GPS is absolutely amazing and it talks. its very accurate, just as good as a tomtom

  • Ana Louise

    Well its not that exciting cuz my aunt owns a BB shop that sells covers and keyborde covers that will make your minde go CRAZY~

  • Sheldon Murray

    I'm in Jamaica and i would like a blackberry curve 8530 to sent to me. how can i get it and how can i pay for it? my name is Sheldom Murray

  • jolin

    Got the blackberry curve 8530, over the weekend battery got really got and couldn’t touch the keypad. Never turned on again. Went to Verizon store, lady put in new battery only to get the same result-battery drain and off it went again. Awaiting same new phone. Has anyone else had this issue?

  • http://www.moldremoval.org mold removal

    I have this phone. I love the trackpad! Thanks

  • Melissa Pearl

    JASON- you NEED to have a data plan in order to purchase the phone. Its like an automatic thing you HAVE to pay for.

  • Britei

    can it work in jamaica sheldon???

  • Guest

    wtf?

  • http://www.orientalrugcare.com/ Rug Cleaning Coral Gables

    nice phone.i would like to come back again.

  • Pants1

    @zack
    blacberrys dont require data to own one. I have a blackberry and it doesnt have data. It is basically $40 extra a month so to me it isnt worth it

  • Guest 2

    dude im sorry for your loss, but what on earth does this have to do with a blackberry curve?

  • jessie

    WOOOW DUTA WOOWA DOTA WOOWA DOTO AND THATS ME