The contents of the BlackBerry Curve 8520 retail package are hardly too surprising. You get a microUSB data cable, a charger and a one-piece set of headphones. There's also a 1GB microSD memory card and the usual bunch of paperwork.
As you can see, there aren't any major omissions that one might expect when the price gets cut-down. There are gaps here too of course, but neither the leather case nor the different charger adapters are real deal-breakers in our books.
The BlackBerry Curve 8520 stands at 109 x 60 x 13.9 mm and weighs 106 grams. It is a fraction thicker and lighter than the Curve 8900 but the differences are not noticeable in real life usage.
It is about what you would expect from such a device. The slim Nokia E71 and E72 duo earns some points against its competitor here but the differences are slight.
The previous BlackBerry Curve did look pretty nice with its silver-colored frame and stealthy top buttons, so it wasn't hard to forgive the excessive amount of keys on its front panel. The Curve 8520 doesn't have the excuse of its bigger brother so it fails to impress.
The all-plastic construction is ok, but the plastic used on the front looks quite cheap. It attracts smudges, stains, and makes the device look like a Chinese toy designed for four-year olds. Not good at all.
The back is somewhat better and the battery cover can even fool a few people that it is metallic if they stand far enough away.
That makes the rubberized edges the best part of the Curve 8520 body.
The BlackBerry Curve 8520 exterior is unlikely to attract too many people outside the RIM faithful with its all too conservative trademark styling (not to mention that the black E71 is so much cooler). And the Curve 8520 is certainly outclassed even within its own family: there's no way it can match the looks of the new Bold 9700 or the Curve 8900.
As we already mentioned. the display has suffered most from the price reduction. A 65K-color QVGA unit with a 2.46" diagonal hardly sounds impressive by current standards but it isn't too far off what the Nokia QWERTY bars are offering.
The contrast and brightness are decent but not spectacular as on the Bold 9700 and the color limitation might become visible at times.
Unfortunately the sunlight legibility has also suffered. The Curve 8520 shares almost nothing with the stellar outdoor performance of the other BlackBerry handsets or the Nokia competition. It is still possible to work with it in bright sunlight but it will give you a hard time finding a proper angle.