The BlackBerry Storm, three weeks later

The BlackBerry Storm, three weeks later

Summary: When I first looked at the BlackBerry Storm a couple of weeks back, I promised to revisit the topic after I had some more time to use the device on a regular basis. After all, it only seemed fair to put in the extra time on a product that had been billed as the first serious competitor to the iPhone since word began to leak out about it months ago.

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BlackBerry StormWhen I first looked at the BlackBerry Storm a couple of weeks back, I promised to revisit the topic after I had some more time to use the device on a regular basis. After all, it only seemed fair to put in the extra time on a product that had been billed as the first serious competitor to the iPhone since word began to leak out about it months ago.

Well, two weeks later I've come to the conclusion that the Storm has definitely not lived up to my expectations. While I have not encountered the litany of issues that some reviewers have (see David Pogue's unusually snarky review for the New York Times), I nonetheless have been unable to embrace the Storm's key selling point - the clickable touchscreen.

As old school as it may seem, despite my appreciation for the iPhone 3G - especially once battery life improved post-launch - I could never actually make the switch to it as my primary device for one reason - my touchscreen typing skills are horrendous. So the thought of a product that would meld the sexiness of a touchscreen device, with the tactile response of a traditional keyboard was intriguing, to say the least.

Unfortunately, the Storm hasn't delivered on that promise.

If anything, my typing was actually a bit faster on the iPhone than it is on the Storm.  And while it's not the sole culprit, as I noted in my first post, I definitely find it a bit disconcerting that the center of the Storm's screen has more give then the outer edges. While it's not the primary reason I had problems typing on the Storm, it certainly didn't help when I was trying to power through e-mails.

If the Storm were just another phone, I think my reaction (and likely, the reaction of many other reviewers) would have been totally different. It's a terrific phone, it has a very good camera, it's solid at recording video, its battery life puts the iPhone 3G to shame, and even music and video playback is pretty good. And while trying to email on it isn't truly horrendous, it's just that it's really poor in comparison to any other BlackBerry on the market (and especially compared to the Bold, which isn't just a great Blackberry, it's one of the best phones around).

So ultimately, is there any reason to think about a Storm instead of an iPhone 3G?

Well the first - and most obvious - reason is if you're a loyal Verizon Wireless customer, and the thought of switching to AT&T gives you the shivers. And as an AT&T Wireless customer, I can say that I now have a bit of Verizon-envy - their EV-DO service was noticeably faster for me than AT&T's 3G, almost fast enough to mitigate the fact that the Storm doesn't have built-in WiFi.

If battery life is a major concern, then patch or no patch, the iPhone 3G is simply not an ideal option - while getting through a work day without a recharge is nice, it's far from ideal. With the Storm, you can actually go away on a two- or maybe even three-day trip without worrying about running out of juice.

Otherwise, unless you're a camera phone freak, or you just really, really need to shoot video on your phone, the Storm doesn't really come out on top in many other places.

The iPhone 3G is a superior media player; it has the best mobile Web browser around; it has WiFi; and the iPhone store has a surprisingly large number of useful (and/or entertaining) apps, many of which are still free. (On this last point, the Blackberry app store is expected to launch in March, though it remains to be seen how many developers will set up shop.)

Wow, first HTC falls short with the G1, and now RIM misses the boat with the Storm.

I guess coming up with the "next iPhone" is a lot harder than it seems.

Topics: BlackBerry, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Networking, Wi-Fi

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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67 comments
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  • So the Storm isn't?

    More like a light sun shower then?

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
  • First Gen

    Naturally the first generation of any product will garner various responses. However, the crux of the issue is that I've outfitted ALL necessary staff with RIM products including the BES Server. Leveraging this investment is the only real option for us as very like for many other organizations. iPhone is still not as well viewed as a "business" tool (hints of PC versus Mac?). My internal email, applications, etc. are all integrated easily with RIM and there is no compelling reason to change. If the next generation of RIM Blackberry uses voice activation, etc. we'll very likely move forward with that as well. For now, the Storm is not really a player here but it will be when we refresh of technology at the end of next year.

    Note, the issue with the keyboard as you outlined it is reminiscent of the same "us versus them" when PDA's from PALM were first introduced. Stylus writing, Graffiti, wasn't an issue until MS put out it's WIN CE stuff, i.e. IPAQ.

    At the end of the day, only two things will be important as technologies continuously evolves - 1) what an organization needs to ensure ROI/TCO, usability, etc.; and 2)what's the best fit for an individual - some like to use keyboards, some will prefer touch screens while others will simply voice/dictate.
    Meesha
  • The problem is.

    They are all trying to be the next iPhone which was a hit on its first gen.
    People
    • Another Problem...

      The consumer's perception AND the media...the first iPhone was definitely innovated; it had a BIG, BRIGHT, COLORFUL screen and a whole new concept of touch screen...BUT it had MANY flaws in it, was NOT great at making phone calls/reception, and still does (no cut/paste, etc.). But it was from Apple, the media jumped on it and it sold like crazy.

      Now comes along a touch screen from RIM and the MEDIA and CONSUMERS were hailing it an iPhone killer, but not Rim. The other manufacturers were producing touch screens, so why shouldn't RIM want some of that market too? The difference is that while the other attempts were simply reviewed, the STORM was crucified as not being an iPhone, rather than testing it on its on merits.

      Some reviewers, like Dave Pogue, simply trashed it because Apple didn't make it, many, like this one, liked it except for the SurePress screen, yet that one feature makes it a bad phone? Just because he doesn't like pressing the screen and can't get used to it, he makes it sound like garbage. It just seems to me that the STORM was never given a fair chance. For MANY people, switching to AT&T, and an iPhone, is simply not an option - so we are stuck with bias reviews, not know what to believe.
      corymcnutt
      • but, the touch screen is how you interact with the thing..

        what are you talking about?

        if you can't get used to the tough screen you WILL hate the
        device... that's how you interact with the thing at the most
        basic level <shaking my head>

        that is the single most important BASIC feature of the phone...
        if you hate the human computer interface of the device you
        best not use it because every second you use it will necessitate
        using the touch screen that you hate and can't get used to.

        it's like buying a chair that is perfect in every respect except
        every time you actually sit in it your back breaks into spasms...
        well then the chair is unusable.. might be ok for someone else
        but for you it's unusable.
        doctorSpoc
        • your shaking your head?

          I wasn't implying that ALL reviewers disliked the touch screen. There were MANY that did like it - it is just a matter of personal preference. It also doesn't make the phone a piece of crap either; just different. Of course no one would buy a product in which they didn't like the interface...duh?
          corymcnutt
      • would you buy a laptop with a terrible keyboard and track pad...

        that you just found annoying and slow and inaccurate to type
        on?
        doctorSpoc
      • Not, not and iPhone killer

        But rather, not a good RIM product. While people, in general, might have been looking for an iPhone killer, RIM users were looking for RIM functionality with iPhone capability. And that comes from the keyboard. RIM should just stick to keyboard phones and forget touchscreens.
        jorjitop
  • Storm isn't that good

    I tested one out recently. It's SLOW compared to the 8830 I use. So slow that I won't use it.
    The iPhone touch screen was tough to use and this push screen technology is sort of the same.

    The camera is nice but if you're using a blackberry, then you probably don't care much for the camera anyways.

    If they can speed this thing up then I might use one.
    lektaric@...
  • Try HTC Touch Pro

    I have the HTC Touch Pro, and love it. I use Sprint, but Verizon is offering it soon. It is thicker than the iPhone, but narrower and shorter. I greatly prefer the form factor over the iPhone. The keyboard is great, the Opera browser is great. Battery life is good (lasts about two days with normal use). Throw in turn-by-turn navigation (or Google Maps - whichever you prefer), very easy synch with Exchange, Wi-Fi, 3.2 MP camera with LED 'flash', etc. and it is one very nice device. The only failing as far as I can see is their marketing - no one seems to know about it!
    ted@...
    • Wanted a Storm, but wife and I chose Touch Pro

      Needing to stay on a Family Plan with my wife who's work requires a Windows Mobile 6(+) phone, we went to Verizon, ATT, and Sprint stores to see what would meet our separate needs/desires. At Verizon (current carrier), we liked the Storm but BES was not supported at wife's office and no other WM phone was competetive. I could also quickly see that the Storm keyboard might require some "user adjustments." The Fam Plan 1400 with enough data and GPS was around $170/mo. At ATT, the HTC Fuze (sister to Touch Pro) and iPhone 3G were our choices, but I will not use iTunes and iPhone allows no other media player. Comparable Fam Plan was $150/mo. We found our phones at Sprint - the Touch Pro. WM 6.1 and WMP got us both interested, and the Fam Plan sealed our decision: 1500 minutes and UNLIMITED email, text, data, photo/video sharing, Opera browsing, AND GPS (!) for $130/mo with another 10% off (net $117) for my small business. Surprisingly, the Touch Pro felt smaller in my pants front pocket than my dying Motorola Q. I use the slide-out keyboard for entries almost exclusively, and I'm surprised as how efficiently I can type on it. With about every feature one could want in a smartphone, I, too, am puzzled that this phone hasn't received more attention -- the reviews have been consistently good as well.
      spyder3010
      • HTC Touch Diamond/Pro are simply the best

        Nothing else can compete in any contest other than marketing. Take pride in the fact that while you didn't buy the most popular phone, you did buy the best one. You almost have to feel bad for those stuck with a cell phone that they bought solely because they saw it in a commercial. Almost. ;)

        [i]With about every feature one could want in a smartphone, I, too, am puzzled that this phone hasn't received more attention -- the reviews have been consistently good as well.[/i]
        NonZealot
      • One question.....

        You won't use iTunes. Why is that?

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
        • RE: One Question...

          Anyone can figure out why this guy won't use iTunes.
          iTunes is the worst software to ever be installed on a
          computer, of any make or OS. It's buggy, crapware
          loaded (loads 7 different programs!!!) and slow. It's
          only reason for being is to advertise for Apple.
          Yuck!

          I agree, the Touch Pro/Diamond/etc etc are awesome
          phones that have no need to be chained to a PC in
          order to work 100% with all functions. I use the HTC
          TyTN2, and will be upping to a Diamond model of some
          type when my contract renews. Sorry, but the iPhone
          is cute, but utterly useless for real work.
          Narg
          • The Worst Yet #1 Used Jukebox and Store?

            Something just doesn't add up there. Exaggerated much? crapware with 7 different programs? Hell for a minute there I thought you were talking about Real. ;-)
            dave95.
    • Failing: 4Gb of Memory

      [i]The only failing as far as I can see is their marketing - no one seems to know about it![/i]

      Well, the other failing I can see is lack of a micro-SD slot. The included 4Gb of memory is just not sufficient once you stuff TouchFlo 3D (and the Sprint software) in there. I really prefer to spend an extra few bucks for the flexibility of enhancing the memory myself.
      - Dan
      Olderdan
  • RE: The BlackBerry Storm, three weeks later

    I downloaded the BlackBerry update last night and it seems to have addressed the slow response issue. I haven't seen any of the bugs since the update either. The slow response was my biggest problem with the phone. I hope they make more software available soon.
    kstewart@...
  • Storm does what it is suppose to do.

    We use the 8830 for those who travel, Curves for many others, they are much easier to type on than the Storm, BUT, I have been using the storm now for a few weeks and love it. I am 6'3" 240, Been in computers from 1982, 50+ years old, a biker, and this Storm works great. Not a problem with typing, the browser is great. But it does what is needed very well. So when asked about the Storm I ask about their use. Don't buy it for the latest and greatest, buy the tool for what you need.
    agohige
  • RE: The BlackBerry Storm

    As Senior Living Editor for Health Matters magazine I?ve
    owned or tested every smart phone and PDA ever made.
    Two things have driven me crazy: small print and even
    tinier keyboards. My new Storm isn?t perfect, but it?s a
    huge improvement. It?s this kind of attention to the needs
    of busy grownups that may make the Storm the smart
    phone for the rest of us.

    Very vision friendly?large virtual keys and type, tactile
    feedback, bright, sharp screen

    Microsoft Windows ?feel?

    Unlike the iPhone, the touch screen keyboard works when
    the Storm is in the landscape mode so you have bigger
    keys when you?re writing a document or typing email
    messages.

    The Blackberry?s screen is bright and sharp. The Options
    Menu lets you select the size and style of type. The tactile
    click the touch screen makes when you press a key
    enhances the ?typing experience?. For people with serious
    vision issues, there?s an Accessibility Menu that lets you
    change the colors of the letters and backgrounds.
    Terry Asla
    • Thats a positive!?!

      MS Windows "feel"? Huh..... who'd have thunk it:P

      I'm also confused about the adult comment. Are you stating
      that other devices are not for adults? What of the many
      adults whom own and like these other devices? Are they
      immature in your opinion?

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn