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BlackBerry Storm Review (Verdict: Fixable)

By: , IntoMobile
Wednesday, December 24th, 2008 at 9:46 AM
BlackBerry Storm 9530

BlackBerry Storm 9530

Few smartphones in recent memory have had as contentious a launch as the BlackBerry Storm. As you can see from just a few of the reviews, some have called the Storm “the best BlackBerry yet” while others have gone as far as saying it’s the “BlackBerry dud”.

With so many critics butting heads over the issue, it’s high time we stepped into the ring. While we can’t say much on the initial launch, RIM and carriers have had the time to squash bugs and really bring to bear the smartphone they were intending. The holiday season is the moment of truth for many companies, and RIM is no exception; despite a rocky start, they could avoid future returns and promote positive word of mouth if those Christmas presents really deliver a smooth, practical and enjoyable BlackBerry experience. On the other hand, if the trend of frustration continues, RIM’s risky foray into the touchscreen format could backfire dramatically. Some might argue that it already has.

Let’s get one thing straight: it’s still a BlackBerry. iPhone users will scoff at the Storm’s browser, diehard BlackBerry users will guffaw at anything without a physical keyboard, but at the end of the day, you still have essentially the same OS, layout, and functionality. The sole hurdle with the BlackBerry Storm is the form factor, and that alone makes nailing down a target audience very tricky.

Is it for coporate-types disgruntled that their stuffy IT department won’t let them use an iPhone? Is it for iPhone expatriates who got tired of the light saber and boob-jiggling apps which characterized their platform of choice? Is it for the undecided who have been reduced to lugging around both an iPhone and a BlackBerry and thus keeping business and pleasure distinctly (and inefficiently) separate? Maybe it’s unfair to even be comparing it to the iPhone – after all, Windows Mobile has been rocking touchscreens for way longer, and RIM could just be catching up. One way or the other, anyone who has used a BlackBerry before will easily make the transition to the Storm, while others might have a little bit more difficulty adapting to this newfangled clicking SurePress touchscreen and learning the BlackBerry operating system at the same time.

BlackBerry Storm 9530 / 9500

By Research in Motion ($249.99 on contract – TelusBell – $199.99 on Verizon – Free on Vodafone)

Overall

Specifications

Features Available

  • Wireless email
  • Organizer
  • Browser
  • Phone
  • Camera (3.2 MP)
  • Video Recording
  • BlackBerry® Maps
  • Media Player
  • Built-in GPS
  • Corporate data access
  • SMS
  • MMS

Size and Weight

  • 4.43″/112.5mm (Length)
  • 2.45″/62.2mm (Width)
  • 0.55″/13.95mm (Depth)
  • 5.5 oz/155g (Weight)

Data Input/Navigation

  • Touch Screen Navigation, with SurePress for user selection
  • On screen keyboard: portrait SureType® and Multi-tap, QWERTY landscape

Voice Input/Output

  • 3.5mm stereo headset capable
  • Integrated earpiece/ microphone
  • Built-in speakerphone
  • Mono/stereo headset, hands-free, phone book access profile and serial port profile supported (Bluetooth® technology)

Media Player

  • Video format support: MPEG4 H.263, MPEG4 Part 2 Simple Profile, H.264, WMV
  • Audio format support: MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, WMA ProPlus

Display

  • High resolution 480 x 360 pixel color display
  • Transmissive TFT LCD
  • Font size (user selectable)
  • Light sensing screen

Notification

  • Polyphonic/MIDI ringtones
  • MP3 ringtones
  • Vibrate mode
  • LED indicator

Approximate Battery Life

  • 15 days (Standby time)
  • 5.5 hours (Talk time)

Memory

  • Expandable memory – support for microSD™ card
  • 1GB onboard memory
  • 128 MB Flash (flash memory)

Modem

  • RIM® wireless modem
  • Tethered modem capability

Email Integrations

  • Works with BlackBerry® Enterprise Server for Microsoft® Exchange
  • Works with BlackBerry® Enterprise Server for IBM® Lotus® Domino®
  • Works with BlackBerry® Enterprise Server for Novell® GroupWise®
  • Integrates with an existing enterprise email account
  • Integrates with existing personal email account
  • Integrates with optional new device account

Device Security

  • Password protection and screen lock
  • Sleep mode
  • Support for AES or Triple DES encryption when integrated with BlackBerry® Enterprise Server
  • Optional support for S/MIME

Wireless Network

  • UMTS/HSPA: 2100 MHz
  • North America: 850 MHz GSM®/GPRS networks
  • North America: 1900MHz GSM/GPRS networks
  • Europe/Asia Pacific: 1800MHz GSM/GPRS networks
  • Europe/Asia Pacific: 900MHz GSM/GPRS networks
  • Dual-Band: 800/1900 MHz CDMA/Ev-DO networks

Pros

  • Big screen
  • Smooth transitions
  • Solid OS updates

Cons

  • Learning curve on SurePress click-screen
  • Small bugs persist
  • Meager software selection

For the full picture and screenshot tour of the BlackBerry Storm, hop onto the next page! Video coming in the new year, so stay tuned!

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About The Author

Simon Sage

Simon Sage’s education largely surrounded writing, technology and online community, leading him to begin his blogging career at www.BlackBerryCool.com and to quickly discover a vibrant and active community surrounding BlackBerry and mobile technology. In exploring RIM’s platform, he has learned what enterprises are looking for in mobility as well as what makes the innocuous BlackBerry so appealing to them. Recently Simon’s been covering RIM’s gradual move into an already-crowded consumer market, and the impact of burgeoning challengers, such as the iPhone, as well as long-time leaders, like Nokia, on BlackBerry’s advancement. With plenty of content under his belt, Simon will be branching off a bit to see what other smartphone manufacturers are working on while still using BlackBerry as a barometer. At IntoMobile, you can count on his posts being even-handed, well-informed and thought-out.