Blackberry Storm - My brief review...

Man of Honour
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OK, I've had the opportunity to spend the evening playing with the Storm (courtesy of a friend at RIM) and I thought I'd write you good people up a review. No photos I regret to tell you but there are plenty out there. Any questions please ask away.

A few notes first of all. I am in the market for a new touchscreen smartphone in the next couple of weeks, so I'll be buying the Storm or something similar soon but I don't own it yet and my view isn't clouded by already buying it. I'll also be comparing a lot to the iphone because, well, thats the main alternative for me.

Design/Build - I like it, it's smart and quite simple, I'd say it shows the business origins of most blackberry's but it's not consumer unfriendly at all. I actually prefer it to the iphone and it's a lot better than most windows mobile devices. The most noticeable thing is obviously the screen, which appears to be 'standard' aspect rather than widescreen but it is big, clear and very nice quality.

Screen/Clicky Keyboard - The big feature is obviously the funky clickable screen. Basically, I like it a lot, it's fantastic for text entry and it not bad for navigation. Test entry is natural and you get used to it very quickly, it's accurate and fast which is all you can really ask for. It's by far the best onscreen keyboard I've ever used by a long way, beats the iphone/itouch hands down. Navigation is slightly less natural though because you have to physically click, touching just selects and I felt that launching apps on an iphone was more natural for not having to click. But, this should be a software change to fix (or it's already a setting but I couldn't find it)

OS - Stolen from the Bold with touch added basically, it's good, it's reliable, it's not flashy compared to the iphone or even some windows mobile front ends. Haven't seen it crash yet (in fact, I've never seen a blackberry crash)

Web browsing - Good but not great, best I've seen on a blackberry yet but thats mainly down to the touch screen. The iphone beats it easily but I'd say it's marginally ahead of Windows mobile.

Email - Fantastic, not flashy but very functional. This was always going to be good on a blackberry, there's no better mobile email client out there.

Music playback - Fine, it's no ipod but it syncs with itunes and does everything it needs to. It also supports stereo bluetooth as I understand, which might matter to some people though I personally think bluetooth headphones are a stupid idea.

Video playback - Good, looks really nice on screen and a nice interface, only let down is the screen isn't really widescreen so widescreen content doesn't look quite right in my opinion. That said it's still very good.

No wifi - Bugs me a bit, RIM seem to be being honest and admitting it plain wouldn't fit at least. Sitting at home playing (central-ish london) it's pretty responsive over 3G and there's no app that springs to mind where wifi would be necessary. But it limits it in terms of future youtube or iplayer apps for video streaming. It's not a deal breaker but it is annoying.

Camera - 3.2MP, looks alright, I'm not a fan of phone cameras so I can't say 3.2MP here is a huge benefit from 2MP in the iphone in my mind, either is good enough for facebook and neither is good enough for printing at a decent size.

Battery life - I'm going by my friends experience (and he works for RIM bear in mind) and a few reviews online, but it's truly awful. A day of real world usage only. This is disappointing on the grounds it doesn't have wifi to run and previous blackberry's have had brilliant battery life, even my 8800 lasts 3 or 4 days of constant use without a charge.

Price - My biggest issue with the Storm actually, £35 a month for 2 years! Or £40 a month for 18 months. I'm not wild about either really and vodafone aren't offering much even for long term customers.

My conclusions...

I really do like the Storm, which is quite something considering how little I like most touchscreen smartphones. The clicky screen (I'm sure it has a proper name) is great for text entry and good enough for navigation, the interface is good and most applications are well thought out.

The downside is most obviously the battery life, which is a major problem. That aside there isn't anything really wrong with the Storm, as a business device it's fantastic.

As a consumer device (which is where my interest is), it's still very good but it has a few things against it. It's, in my opinion, better than any windows mobile device available. Compared to the iphone though it lacks the app store as a starting point and wifi (and with it iplayer/youtube streaming), the web browser and media players aren't as good and the great email is less important.

As I said I'll be buying one in the next few weeks, my thinking at the moment is it'll be the iphone. But that taken aside, the Storm is exceptionally good and about the best touch screen smartphone going.

RIM deserve a real pat on the back for coming up with the clicky screen, it's great for text entry and the first real innovation in the market since the iphone. Plenty of other manufacturers (HTC, SE, etc) deserve a good beating for failing to come up with anything new in that time. I'd say they've come up with the first real 'iphone killer' and if anybody buys it they'll be very happy with it.
 
Man of Honour
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ok...so does it sync video without having to do any conversion/work ie syncs straight through itunes, or is it just drm free music?

Glad to see a review on here :D

I only tried DRM free music, only video I played was on a memory card already, I didn't try loading any of my own video. So I can't say accurately unfortunately...
 
Associate
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Interesting review, have you tried Opera on a winmo with a VGA (or higher) screen. From what I've seen of an iphone the combination is superior as you can just about read the zoomed out text making navigation easier.
 
Associate
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Ok..you say that the iphone web browser is better than the Storm?

In what way isn't the Storm's browser as good?

From what I'd seen on it ; it looked on par with the iphone.
:)
 
Associate
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if its the same os as the bold, videos are quite dodgy man.. it has apparently divx 4 support, but xvid is quite strange, if you reencode to certain settings its apparently fine - i as of yet havent tried to reencode yet... (only tried to put divx/xvid files on it)...
 
Man of Honour
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Ok..you say that the iphone web browser is better than the Storm?

In what way isn't the Storm's browser as good?

From what I'd seen on it ; it looked on par with the iphone.
:)

I found the navigation less intuitive than the iphone, it has the same drag to scroll but it's not quite as smooth and the zoom isn't as nice as the iphone immediately (though if you used both for 3 months I think that might change). The Storm's browser is very good, I think the iphone/itouch one is better but if you don't like apples interface you could think differently.
 
Man of Honour
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Interesting review, have you tried Opera on a winmo with a VGA (or higher) screen. From what I've seen of an iphone the combination is superior as you can just about read the zoomed out text making navigation easier.

I have, it's certainly better than the standard browser. For me it falls down on a few things...

Navigation is not good compared to either the blackberry or the iphone. It's just less intuitive and I'd say it's slower to use.

It's an add on app against a standard browser, while for a lot of you that won't be an issue for me it's a bit of a hassle and I'd be disappointed they couldn't install a decent browser out of the box.

But rendering is fairly good, maybe even better than the iphone I'll give you.

For me, it's not been a big thing because I would never buy a windows mobile based device - I just think it's a horrid operating system for what is a phone at the end of the day, too complex and not at all intuitive to use. While I know a lot of people here (it's a computer forum after all) will like that it's windows on a phone personally I'm not looking for a computer in my pocket, just a just a phone with a few extra features, which is why I've always liked blackberry's generally.

Another point I forgot to make - performance is fantastic, it's very very fast indeed. Rotation to landscape is as good as instant, better than the iphone, a lot better than anything else I've seen. I presume the OS is pretty lightweight but even so I think they've put a fairly fast processor in there.
 
Man of Honour
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if its the same os as the bold, videos are quite dodgy man.. it has apparently divx 4 support, but xvid is quite strange, if you reencode to certain settings its apparently fine - i as of yet havent tried to reencode yet... (only tried to put divx/xvid files on it)...

I can't say I saw any issues at all, playback is exceptionally smooth, the screen is excellent, sound quality is fine. Then again, it's not my phone so my friend provided the film I was trying it out on, I don't know if he had trouble encoding it. So in summary, it CAN be excellent, whether it's a pain to encode media so it is I don't know...
 
Soldato
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I have a couple of questions:

1) What was performance like in the video / music player? My curve gets rather sluggish when I try to play either videos or music. It'll play them fine, but if I want to skip to the next track, the UI is noticably laggy and I'll have to wait 3-4s for any sort of response. Similar issues on the storm?

2) It claims to come with HSPDA - when browsing were you getting 3G speeds / latency, or the full HSPDA goodness?

You're right in that it is expensive. My plan is to get it on a 2 year contract and then swap out my work bb to the storm, and use the new contract in an old phone (I only want it for the unlimited texts really). Interestingly I saw a battery life estimate a while back from vodafone that said "10 days" on standby. Why do they always stupidly inflate these numbers?
 
Man of Honour
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I had a curve as a work blackberry a while back, I found performance on it to be dire in general actually. It's by far the worst of all the blackberry's I've used. The 8800 is substancially faster. As for the storm, it's very quick indeed, even in the media player I didn't see any slow down when seeking through tracks, skipping forwards or anything really...

Browsing was pretty quick, I'd say it was HSPDA speeds I was getting, it's certainly meant to support it and I should easily have coverage. Either way, it's quick, which helps offset the no wifi bit.

The cost is putting me off (particularly bearing in mind it comes with no internal memory to speak off and buy your own memory card if you want decent capacity). It's not available sim free yet anywhere I can find but the bold is going for £450 sim free so I dread to think what we're looking at here.
 
Caporegime
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I just tried it at the Vodafone shop yesterday - wasnt impressed at all (couldnt test any SIM reliant features though :/)

Every demo phone I tried was noticeably sluggish with over-sensitive accelerometer - the sales people kept saying its because they needed charging...

I just hope it was a bad batch of phones - I thought the lag was bad on WM phones...

ps3ud0 :cool:
 
Associate
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I picked up a BOLD last week after failing to convince my Director to change the whole company contract from O2 to Vodafone just so I could get a Storm:(

I have to say though that I absolutely love the Bold and its the first Blackberry I have had. It just works so well and email is awesome and the screen and usability is very good.
 
Commissario
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Good review :)
The lack of Wifi puts me off this phone, I'm still looking for a touchscreen/smart phone within the next month. The iPhone is top of the list at the moment but the G1 needs to be considered also.
 
Caporegime
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Nice review mate, i got to make some time to go and see one in the flesh as when it was first announced i was pretty interested in seeing one. At the moment i have the HTC touch diamond...which is a good phone but am getting fed up of it so looking to sell it pretty cheaply. But i want to see the Storm in the flesh and then decide between the storm or the Bold, which i have played with quite extensively and was very impressed by the Bolds performance.
 
Associate
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just got mine off a certain auction site......paid alot of money but couldn't help myself! stupid long contracts force drastic measures!

cpinch73
 
Caporegime
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I have to say the opposite about the screen, I really didn't like it, it was a bit counter intuative and not quite right. If the press was a lot softer it may have been better but at the moment it takes just too much of a press to be a good alternative, for me it is a backwards step in touchscreen technology, and similar to the old fashioned touchscreens of old. Texting was truly awful on it.

Aside from that it was quite a nice phone, the menus were good and easy to navigate and the phone itself, although big looked quite nice.

Just a shame about the Wifi, which for me is even more of a killer than the screen.

(I tired one for about 20 mins today)
 
Soldato
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Hello Bigred,

I should be a doing a review of the bold and storm soon my self. Our council's mobile contract is with vodafone and they are sending a few storms and bolds for us to use. But the whole battery life issue will soon put me off it. I cant believe it will only last a day with normal use!!!!

Can you not get your self one through work? Or do you not have a business mobile contract?
 
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