Blackberry Storm: The Review

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So the holidays are over and Console Creatures welcomes you back with the definitive review of The Blackberry Storm from Telus.  With RIM’s already strong reputation in the smartphone market, it would be safe to assume that with their first touch screen phone, they are looking to take a run at the Iphones’ market share in this segment. With the current exclusivity of the Iphone on Rogers networks in Canada, Telus and Bell (the networks currently offering the Storm) hope that this is finally their legitimate response to a phone that their subscribers and clients maybe look at with great envy.  Console Creatures has put the Storm through the ringer (no pun intended…if there is one) this past month and gives our readers the definitive look at the Storm to see if it’s worth all the hype and fulfills all the expectations of a Blackberry touch screen phone.


The Pros

It goes without saying that the design of the Storm would be sleek and stylish. The Storm has a vibrant 480 x 360 resolution touch screen encased in polished jet black with a silver lining. The 4 phyisical button controls that BlackBerry users are accustomed to are present as well as all the controls and inputs that are standard for any new Smartphone.

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What makes the touch screen differentiate itself from other notable touch screen phones is their SurePress technology that allows the user two levels of touch interactivity and navigation. By lightly pressing your finger against the screen you will be able to hover and highlight any possible selections on screen. You will then be able to press more firmly as the screen “clicks” confirming your command and assuring you that it was done accurately.

The Storm also comes equipped with a 3.2 mega pixel camera with flash that produces much higher quality pictures than most phones out in the market. The auto-focus worked well and produced great pictures for internet posting.

Canadian music right out of the box!

Canadian music right out of the box!

Included in the Telus version of the Storm is an 8gb memory card for you to store all your media including photos, music and videos. The phone already comes preloaded with Canadian music in audio and video format which is a nice little personalized touch that their target market will appreciate. The larger screen allows for a bigger viewing size compared to other Blackberry’s for video, picture, and cover art for the music you are playing. The media player is easy to navigate with large on-screen shortcut buttons to access exactly what you want or transfer to and from the device memory and memory card.

Standard with most new Blackberry phones, the Storm also comes equipped with built in GPS. Though not performing as well as a stand alone GPS device, it does do the job and is great feature that comes in handy when you least expect it without having to search, download and install a web based program. In addition to the GPS, the ever so popular BB (BlackBerry messenger) is also present, and though not a deal maker for most it still remains a strong community building and brand loyalty vehicle amongst BlackBerry users.

As with the Blackberry’s before it, calls made and received (including speaker phone) with the Storm were always clear and loud (adjustable of course) in a diverse set of environments.

The Cons

Though the Blackberry browser that comes with the Storm is a great improvement from past versions, it still feels a bit basic compared to other mobile browsers. Though it re-formats most pages for the screen well, it does take longer than usual to load pages.  Without the physical keyboard and trackball in all other Blackberry’s there is also a new reliance on touch navigation. Unfortunately the touch screen doesn’t seem to jive well with the current browser. The SurePress should allow highlighting possible links with your finger before you press down, but instead there is a response delay and it takes a couple tries for you to highlight the right link without having to zoom way in.  In fairness there is a cursor mode that you can turn on but the lack of smooth response of the on-screen cursor with your finger movement still creates the same problem of accurately selecting correct links.

Great site!  Now if only there were a way to navigate through easier...

Great site! Now if only there were a way to navigate through easier...

In the browser there are 5 on-screen quick buttons (address entry, page view type, cursor mode, zoom in, and out), the rest of the browsing commands can only be found by accessing the menu button only then bringing up a list of basic commands you can choose from. The lack of useful on screen shortcut buttons is not only exclusive to the browser but when utilizing other programs (media player excluded) and will take some getting use to for non-Blackberry users. Correcting text entries in any program can also be difficult as it is quite frustrating to place the type cursor to the point of correction in the body of text accurately via the touch screen.

Also, a common annoyance right out of the box and during general use is the somewhat oversensitive motion sensor to automatically change to and from portrait and landscape view.  At times it felt I had to hold the  phone perfectly upright to avoid it from switching to landscape.  The transition is not smooth either as it almost felt laggy.  Especially frustrating is sometimes when receiving a call and not holding the phone perfectly upright, the phone almost can not decide which view to be in making it difficult to even press the on-screen button to receive the call.

The camera built into the phone is better than most out there producing quality digital pictures and video, the only problem is when taking a picture there is a noticeable waiting time for the auto focus and shutter snaps. In addition, when using the LED flash, it tends to give every picture take an electric blue hue to it.

As far as applications go, Brick Breaker is a good game and all, but the number of applications for download (free and paid) seems to be limited. One can only hope that entertaining, useful and creative applications are in the works for the Storm as this should be a key factor to its success.

Finally, I’m not sure if this is just the Telus model of the phone (as they have quite a history with their Smartphones and this issue), but there does not seem be any option to turn on and access Wi-Fi with the Storm. Having no Wi-Fi in a phone automatically cuts away any option to save on limited data usage when available or the possibility of voip phone options. In an age of “Smartphones for all” and the increased cost of carrying a data plan that comes with it, it would be appreciated to include Wi-Fi to be  even more accessible to everybody.

Here’s the deal

For any company’s touch screen phone uttered with the words “Iphone” and “better” in the same sentence has to be spectacular in the eyes of not just only brand enthusiasts and people locked into a contract. Though a valiant initial effort, the Blackberry Storm is only above average. Luckily, most of the beefs I have with the Storm can easily be corrected/improved on with future OS upgrades in addition to strong first and third party support for applications and games. The Storm has the power under the hood and tons of potential.  For Telus and Bell subscribers; this is the best you’re going to get.
7.5/10 Sean C.

~ by consolecreatures on January 4, 2009.

One Response to “Blackberry Storm: The Review”

  1. I was thinking about getting it, but the CONS are too heavy for me to even consider it. Thanks for the excellent review!

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