We see if HTC’s ChaCha can be outdone by the BlackBerry Curve 8520

A budget messenger comparison between the old BlackBerry Curve 8520 and the new HTC ChaCha
HTC ChaCha – 114.4 x 64.6 x 10.7mm, 120g
BlackBerry Curve 8520 – 109 x 60 x 13.9mm, 106g
The BlackBerry Curve is a remarkably compact and lightweight device, although the ChaCha is the thinner of the two phones.
The compactness lends itself very well to the otherwise fairly standardised BlackBerry design.
With the screen above the fixed Qwerty keyboard and a fairly short, squat frame BlackBerry’s can sometimes have a tendency to look a little odd, but when the whole thing is downsized it works very well.
The keyboard is nicely laid out with neat and interesting lozenge shaped keys.
The ChaCha hasn’t managed to win us over with its unconventional looks.
At bare basics it may be quite similar to the BlackBerry with a small screen on top of a fixed Qwerty keyboard, but the similarities really do end there.
It looks pretty bland to us and there’s an over-abundance of curves from the bodywork to the keys. It’s also very oddly shaped with the screen at an angle from the keyboard creating a slightly curved profile.
‘Neat’ is probably the best summary of the BlackBerry where ‘peculiar’ (and not in a good way) would be more apt for the ChaCha.
Winner BlackBerry Curve 8520
The BlackBerry 8520 is not a touchscreen smartphone, instead it houses a 2.4-inch TFT screen while control is delegated to the optical tack-pad and Qwerty keyboard input.
The screen resolution comes in at 320 x 240 and pixel density is 151 pixels-per-inch (ppi).
HTC’s ChaCha may have a similarly petite 2.6-inch screen but here it’s a fully-fledged touchscreen complete with multi-touch input.
An accelerometer sensor and the HTC Sense 2.1 user interface (UI) grants screen rotation. Meanwhile the glass used for the display is of the toughened ‘Gorilla’ variety.
Screen resolution and picture quality on the ChaCha is much higher than its rival at 480 x 320 pixels and 221ppi.
The ChaCha is holding all the cards here with its larger, crisper touchscreen.
Winner – HTC ChaCha
Both phones are fairly minimal on storage but this fits with their performance level and design as primarily ‘Messenger’ type phones.
These are not high-end portable gaming machines which you can stuff full of apps.
ChaCha users get the better end of the bargain with 512MB of RAM and the same again in ROM, while the BlackBerry has only 128MB of the former and 256MB of the latter.
Luckily both are well provided for when it comes to external card support, each allowing up to 32GB of data to be stored on Micro SD format.
Notably the ChaCha comes with a 2GB card as standard.
Relying only on RAM, ROM and card storage isn’t always ideal but again we’re not dealing with flashy, top-of-the line smartphones here, between the two the ChaCha certainly offers more.
Winner – HTC ChaCha

These handsets are moderately powered by sub-1GHz single core setups.
The BlackBerry runs a Marvell 512MHz processor against the ChaCha’s more impressive 800 MHz Qualcomm MSM7227.
Considering the kind of tasks these types of phone normally get used for either option is more than adequate.
However, having an extra 288MHz to play with is going to make a noticeable difference in performance and gives the ChaCha the edge here.
Winner – HTC ChaCha
Operating System:
The ChaCha runs Google’s Android operating system, version 2.3 Gingerbread.
With Gingerbread you get some of the best smartphone multi-tasking available. Not only is performance faster than before but a handy set of tools lets you keep track of system resources – you can see how apps are using them and generally what your phone is up to.
You’ve got much more control than before, but if you want to take a hands-off approach Gingerbread will keep tabs on things itself and power off any apps which get too greedy.
Overall system performance for tasks and navigation is a step up and the interface is more intuitive and smooth than previous builds.
The touch keyboard has been given some love and is now a pleasure to use rather than a chore.
The BlackBerry Curve released with BlackBerry OS version 4.2 but now has access to an updated version 5.
It’s yet to reach the lofty heights of version 6 or the latest build version 7 but it’s still a serviceable system to use with plenty of useful features.
In particular the browser has been tweaked to support Google Gears and can now stream video, there’s also extended support on a number of formats.
Overall the browsing performance is much faster too but sadly lacks added usability such as tabs.
System performance in general has been ramped up from previous versions, including memory optimisation measures to make things a bit more responsive. There’s also a new file manager interface to help you stay organised.
The Maps app, RIM’s location based service, is now twice as fast, scroll and zoom lag has also been remedied.
Version 5 introduces an application switcher function, activated by holding down the menu key, this mimics the functionality provided in newer versions of the system and on newer phone models.
BlackBerry OS 5 is nice and it’s certainly and improvement over 4.2 but it is nowhere near as fluid or feature-rich as subsequent builds on some of the more recent RIM handsets.
Most notably for this comparison though is it pales when compared to Android Gingerbread’s capabilities.
Winner – HTC ChaCha
Clearly RIM had other priorities when developing the Curve 8520’s camera, as it’s fitted with a fairly rudimentary 2-megapixel primary at 1600×1200 pixels.
It features digital zoom and video capture at QVGA quality but that’s about it.
HTC’s ChaCha is a bit more advanced in this area with a 5-megapixel primary at 2592 x 1944 pixels, it also sports a secondary VGA camera.
Features include autofocus, LED flash, geo-tagging and face detection.
Video capture is D1 quality (720×480 pixels) and the phone supports video calling.
The ChaCha easily wins this round with a much more attractive camera setup.
Winner – HTC ChaCha
Final Thoughts:
The BlackBerry may look nicer but in terms of technical competence the ChaCha runs rings around it.
It’s just a shame HTC has gone with such a quirky and unappealing design because apart from this rather glaring factor the ChaCha is a pretty good phone.
Processing power, storage capacity, screen picture quality and the camera are all better on the ChaCha.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.