Hands-on With Verizon Wireless’ Fierce BlackBerry Storm

We recently had a chance to go hands-on with Verizon Wireless’ Storm, the first BlackBerry to feature a full touchscreen. The Storm is drop-dead gorgeous: it took a lot of self control not to pocket the Storm during our meeting and head for the border with it. Once crossing into another country, we would have been just fine with service. That’s because the Storm supports both GSM and CDMA networks, as well as Verizon Wireless’ EV-DO Rev. A network in the United States, and HSDPA connectivity in Europe and Asia. The Storm measures 4.4 x 2.4 x 0.55-inches, just slightly fatter than the iPhone which measures a similar 4.5 x 2.4 x 0.48 inches in size, and also features an accelerometer, so most menus can be viewed in either landscape or horizontal mode. The back of the device has a switchable metal lid with three available colors: black, dark blue, and charcoal. It’s loaded with BlackBerry OS 4.7, which looks different on the Storm than on the Bold or Pearl Flip because it’s optimized for the touchscreen and accelerometer. An Impressive Touch Screen During our hands-on, we were stunned by the beautiful 480 x 360 3.26-inch display, which features RIM’s ClickThrough technology. ClickThrough lets you depress any portion of the screen to make a selection so it feels like there’s actually a button below your finger. RIM’s CEO Mike Lazaridis told us this is possible thanks to mechanical switch suspension below the surface of the display that lets each press feel like a separate button. It took a bit to get used to QWERTY typing with ClickThrough, though, because we are so used to lightly touching the keyboards on touchscreen phones (such as the iPhone), but the Storm actually lets you push down on the keys. We found it to be as, if not more, accurate than the iPhone’s keyboard and it supports a similar auto-correct feature. You can touch and hold a letter for additional letters specific to a language, like ñ for example. When in vertical mode, the Storm displays a SureType keyboard like that found on the BlackBerry Pearl. The Storm also supports multi-tapping for highlighting text. You can simply spread your fingers around a paragraph and push down to highlight the whole area of text, and then you can copy/paste that text elsewhere; a feature the iPhone still doesn’t support. Forget the Garmin Nuvifone If you’re still on the fence about buying a personal navigation device or Garmin’s phone, we say hold out and just use the AGPS features of the Storm. Its display is large enough for placing on your dashboard with an added accessory, and moreover, it has a specially designed version of VZ Navigator that makes interacting with the UI super easy with touch. That is right, its got turn-by-turn directions, unlike some other well-regarded touchscreen phones. Multimedia Maverick The Storm supports up to 16GB of added storage through a microSD card, and it comes packaged with an 8GB card, which means you can listen to MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, WMA ProPlus audio tracks side loaded to your Storm, or watch MPEG4 H.263, MPEG 4 P2SP, H.264, and WMA movie files. A clip of the movie Hancock looked great on the display, and it played back without a hitch. It also has a 3.5mm headphone jack for adding your own headset, or you can use a stereo Bluetooth one. But the Storm has superb speakers for watching movies or listening to music while it’s sitting in its cradle, too. We don’t know exactly how well the battery on the Storm will hold up under heavy multimedia conditions, but at least the battery on the phone is swappable. The Storm comes preloaded with Facebook as well as support for viewing Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint files, as well as Adobe PDF files. We took a few shots with the Storm’s 3.2MP camera, which features flash and auto-focus, during our hands-on, and the pictures looked good overall, but the camera software was still a bit buggy. You can also shoot video clips for sending off in MMS messages at a 176 x 144 resolution, or a larger 480 x 320 one for storing. Not Quite iPhone Surfing The browser on the Storm was OK. Sites loaded quickly, and you can view them in both Page and Column view. If you want to pan around with your finger, just simply swipe the display. The page didn’t slide as smoothly as Safari on the iPhone, but it’s the closest we’ve seen yet.  There’s also a cool “Cursor” feature that places a cursor on the display which follows your finger. It makes selecting small links super easy and is an innovative and useful addition. The browser also supports streaming video and audio. We also saw a small accessory dock that the Storm can sit in. When it’s inserted, it automatically turns into a large digital alarm clock. This is perfect for the many of us that use our Blackberry’s as alarm clocks anyway. Verizon Wireless and Vodafone are carrying the Storm exclusively, and there’s no word on a release date or pricing just yet, but if it’s priced around $199 we imagine it will fly off the shelves.

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  1. iphone reviews Says:

    Go iPhone!

  2. taco1008 Says:

    Blackberry storm review http://www.blackberrystormreview.net

  3. Iphone SUCKS Says:

    I currently have the iphone and its not that bad of a phone but I REALLY!! REALLY!! Hate that appled holds back on the simplest crap just so they can sell me another phone later. Like holding back on Features that even free phones have.

    -Vertical keyboard for emails.
    -How about no dropped or failed calls?
    -NO MMS
    -NO Video
    - I can’t even get my hotmail
    -Crappy IM chat programs that never work
    -

  4. Storm is NOT ready. Says:

    It is truly NOT ready! DO NOT rush to get one. Wait and see all the glitches, some which can be fixed by firmware update, some you will be stuck with… Stick with your old BB for now, after all it will not fail you…

  5. Ross Says:

    Take it easy! Learn the phone! It truly is amazing technology when you get acclimated.
    Here’s why it kills the iPhone : 3.2 megapixel camera/ video camera / zoom with flash / the “clickable” screen………
    Storm is my well researched victor in this battle!!

  6. Goodness Says:

    Well researched? LOL. Idiots thinks storm is better than iPhone.

  7. yeomanrycavalry Says:

    The Storm is far better than the iPhone. Expandable memory to 32 GB, Removable Battery that will last for 7 days. Updates are coming in at a rapid pace, that the lag of the software and bugs are no longer issues. The Storm is much better looking than a plain looking iPhone. On the Storm you get more radios, CDMA, Edge, 3G, and five other radios. Also, it a a high resolution 3.2 megapixel camera. The keyboard can be flicked up and down, and like the iPhone can be zoomed. It allows a hover mode, cut, copy and paste is available. Stereo Bluetooth, noise canceling speakerphone, audio quality is the best and loudest of all the cell phones avail. Will run all previous BlackBerry software applications. Touchscreen is tough as nails and cannot be scratched even with a very sharp knife. The phone looks elegant and like it can break easily but has survived falls from 5 story drop tests and continued to work.

  8. Sharon Says:

    HAVE HAD MINE ABOUT 24 HOURS AND LOVE IT. IT’S EVERYTHING I HOPED IT WOULD BE.

  9. ca11itaftermath Says:

    @ yeomanrycavalry: Memory is only expandable to 16GB, not 32GB.

    Also, I love how “iPhone Reviews” posted a comment.

    I’m getting my Storm [9530] next week, after a few months of waiting, and I can not wait at all. I have researched this phone for hours, and spent a ton of time reading reviews and looking at the phone.

    Having several friends that have iPhones, I have spent plenty of time playing around with them, enough to know that I still prefer the higher-level functionality of the BlackBerry (I currently have an antiquated 8703e). I can’t wait to have a camera phone again, as well as the wealth of other features that I will have on my new, incoming 9530.

    BlackBerry and RIM for the win!

  10. R J Says:

    The Blackberry is a fine phone, but the software they give you with it TOTALLY screws up your computer & Latches on to everything so that nothing else you have works. It even includes Adware that you have to search for later to be RID of. HORRIBLE PLAN by Verizon. HORRIBLE !!!!!Use the phone, but do not use thier software !!!! You’ll be sorry if you do.

  11. ChuckH Says:

    Actually ca11itaftermath, the Storm does support 32 GB memory…it’s just a matter of getting the card. This is true of all BlackBerry devices with 4.6 or higher operating systems. They probably didn’t advertise it because the cards weren’t available when the Storm was released and still are very hard to get a hold of…at least in the U.S. Check the RIM website, as the details are there. I’ve had one of these phones since November 21st and have another one on the way. They’re great and Verizon should have the Gold Code released within the next month for them. I have an iPhone too. It’s nice because it is easy to use and works smoothly, but it lacks in a lot of areas against the Storm. To each his own. They are both nice devices in different ways.

  12. Steve Vaughn Says:

    Storms 3.2 camera is the only issue I have come across. I had a LG envy with a 2.0 mp camera and it is 10 times better than the Storms 3.2 mp. It takes a full 5 seconds after you click the shutter button for the camera to take the picture. I have spoke with Verizon about this and they told me there may be a update for this problem. Camera quality does not even compare to the LG. That really suxs. If it were not for the 35.00 restocking fee ,I would get my LG back up and running again today. You know everyone has a fee for something these days. How about I charge them a dissatisfied customer fee.

  13. barry unhappy Says:

    This phone sucks! I have no motivation other then to tell anyone who may be considering this phone to be ware. The most amazing thing is making and receiving phone calls is almost impossible! I’ve hit the mute button with my cheek almost every call I’ve ever been on, and when I move the phone away from my face the person on the other end cant hear a word I am saying. The third party software I use to sink with my laptop sucks almost as bad.

    My experience with Verizon has been even worse. I bought the phone through their special offer, buy one Storm for $199 and get a second for free. Well two months later (I’ve already paid my $199) they charged me full price ($800 total) for both phones. It took 4 months and three disconnections of service before they were able to straighten out my bill.

    I don’t know what else to say other than DO NOT BUY THIS PHONE!

  14. Dan Says:

    Hello, My experience with the storm started out good and has gone down hill slowly. I will trade it in for a new phone tomorrow. Anyone in there right mind should stear clear of the BB storm 1 that is. dlm

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