Review roundup: RIM's new touchscreen BlackBerry Storm

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
On Friday, Research in Motion and Verizon will answer to the iPhone with the BlackBerry Storm -- a touchscreen-based handset that will sell for $250 with a two-year contract, though a $50 mail-in rebate will bring the cost inline with Apple's entry-level offering.



AppleInsider is offering a comprehensive roundup of Storm reviews published by well-circulated print publications, in addition some reviews offered by more Web-centric outlets. Readers who are seriously considering a BlackBerry Storm are advised to review each of the reviews, as they all offer unique observations.



Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg

The Storm is essentially a touch-based, large-screen version of the well-polished BlackBerry Bold.

"When you strike a key or icon on the Storm's screen, you feel a physical sensation, as if you were pressing down on a real key or button."

The entire glass display is one large button but it doesn't "magically turn the Storm's touch interface and virtual keyboard into their physical counterparts."

The new screen also replaces the side-mounted scroll wheel or track ball.

When held vertically, the Storm will only display a "mashed-up keyboard" -- not a full keyboard -- that has "has multiple letters on each key."

No Wi-Fi capability.

While the Storm's keyboard is 7% smaller than the iPhones, it offers about 13% higher resolution. "Photos and videos look beautiful on it."

Better battery life for phone calls than either the iPhone or the Google G1. Battery is also removable.

Storm comes with 9GB of memory and is expandable via flash cards.

Much better camera than the iPhone. 3.2 megapixels compared to 2 megapixels and it does video too.

Storm also has copy-and-paste, MMS, voice dialing and tethering capabilities.

Better speaker and noise-canceling microphone than the iPhone.

It's 5% thicker and 17% heavier than the iPhone.

Verizon's high-speed network used by the Storm is more robust than AT&T's.

Some interface tasks, such as photo rotation and panning and zooming in the web browser, are slow.

No wireless sync.

"Overall, the Storm is a very capable handheld computer that will appeal to BlackBerry users who have been pining for a touch-controlled device with a larger screen."







Wired's Daniel Dumas

The Storm's click-able screen offers roughly the same sensation you get when clicking a mouse.

Text messaging is amazing and "just as easy as typing one out on a MacBook's keyboard."

The 3.2megapixel camera also comes with a flash, unlike the iPhone's.

"Web surfing on the device is good, not great" and lacks Flash support just like the iPhone.

"Battery life skews towards the pathetic end of the spectrum. While not as atrocious as the iPhone 3G's, it still ran out of juice after a solid day of use."

"The hardware that RIM has produced is completely original, wholly impressive, and poised to affect the way every phone manufacturer approaches touch technology — including Apple." [It's the carrier crippling the handset's full potential.]

The Storm's OS feels like it was rushed, and there are freezing issues.

"If you're locked into a contract with Verizon, want a touchscreen phone, and are willing to put up with an OS that moves like a tranquilized yak, then yes the Storm is for you. Otherwise, your best bet is an iPhone or the very capable BlackBerry Bold."

PC World's Yardena Arar

Ultimately, the Storm's touch interface feels like a failed experiment.

The Storm has a GPS receiver and Bluetooth.

The Storm's accelerometer lets you use it in landscape or portrait mode for most applications (it orients the phone in portrait mode only, though).

"Though RIM generally produces first-rate hardware (especially the QWERTY keyboards that it pioneered on handhelds), I found the Storm awkward to use for everyday data entry tasks."

"I'd tap a menu item, for example, but then when I depressed the screen, the selection would somehow shift and a different item would execute."

Scrolling was slow, and no quick method to jump to particular contacts.

"There's no obvious way to make the keyboard go away quickly, either, if you want to see part of the screen that it's concealing."

"When you enter a number, you press a key to access the numerals--but after each entry, the keyboard returns to the default QWERTY design, so you have to tap twice for each digit you enter."

Phone call quality is solid. "The Storm maintained calls that the iPhone and AT&T Wireless dropped in the same location, to the same number, at the same time of day."

Impressive audio quality for music via earbuds.

"Whereas the iPhone can look dim outdoors, the Storm never did."

The camera outshines the iPhones due to its built-in flash and auto focus.

Synching times are somewhat disappointing.

"But people who were hoping for a credible iPhone alternative fortified with BlackBerry's strengths as a mobile tool for corporate travelers will likely find the Storm a disappointment. When it comes to touch interfaces, Apple still has no peer."

The Chicago Tribune's Eric Benderoff

Video looks great on the Storm but navigation in general lags.

"The touch controls on the Storm do not compare with the more responsive iPhone or Google phone."

Odd placement on on-screen buttons often leads to an improper selection and, hence, backtracking.

Three different keyboard styles are offered, which is "two too many."

"The faithful BlackBerry user may be better off with the Bold, another RIM model with multimedia muscle plus two fast network connections."

Additional reviews



In addition to the mainstream reviews listed above, several internet publications have also weighed in on the new BlackBerry Storm.



CNet News.com's Bonnie Cha



"The RIM BlackBerry Storm may blow in a frenzy for Verizon Wireless subscribers wanting a touch screen similar to the Apple iPhone. However, die-hard texters, e-mailers, and corporate users may be better served with the BlackBerry Bold or other QWERTY device."



Gizmodo's Matt Buchanan



"The Storm is a strong effort from RIM, but it's not quite the killer phone that they or Verizon need it to be. It's good—RIM clearly put a lot of thought into the design. But I think it fall short of what they were aiming for, and ultimately what all the hype is driving people to expect. Some of this is fixable: The damn thing needs to crash less often. But SurePress is not the end-all, be-all of touchscreen technologies—it's not really an evolutionary step forward, even. The experience may be fairly refined, but more polish is still needed. Had this Storm been left to brew a bit longer, it would've been much more powerful."



Engadget's Joshua Topolsky



"Going into this review, we really wanted to love this phone. On paper it sounds like the perfect antidote to our gripes about the iPhone, and in some ways it lives up to those promises -- but more often than not while using the Storm, we felt let down or frustrated. Ultimately, this could be a great platform with a little more time in the oven, but right now, it feels undercooked -- and that's not enough for us."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 44
    Quote:

    you feel a physical sensation?



    ok.



    Quote:

    The entire glass display is one large button but it doesn't "magically turn the Storm's touch interface and virtual keyboard into their physical counterparts."



    hmmm....
  • Reply 2 of 44
    And just like other RIM phones -- there is no out-of-the-box Mac support for syncing. Can't wait to hear about people's experiences -- since the ATT Bold has proven to be a Mac sync nightmare and might not have a viable mac sync solution until sometime in 1st quarter 2009...
  • Reply 3 of 44
    mj webmj web Posts: 918member
    Imitation is the sincerest form of mediocrity.
  • Reply 4 of 44
    I always wondered why Apple did not incorporate the vibrating layer to simulate a pressed key. It might be because it'll make the iPhone a little thicker or maybe because of the glass screen.



    This is a big step for BlackBerry, and unlike Apple, they were obviously listening to the iPhone crowd who were complaining about no video camera, copy paste, SMS, tethering, or voice dialing.



    I really like the fact that the camera has auto focus, but I'm not sure about the quality of its 3.2mpixel camera, it probably sucks as much as the iPhone and the G1.



    The battery life is an unfair comparison because the BalckBerry lacks WiFi. The iPhone's battery lasts a lot longer if that feature is turned off when its not needed.



    Conclusion: iPhone is still king in many ways, but Apple is frustrating many of its users by giving them lots of wants and not taking their needs seriously.
  • Reply 5 of 44
    Like a tranquilized yak.... awesome.
  • Reply 6 of 44
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by borki View Post


    ok.







    hmmm....



    Kind of like the new macbook trackpads huh?
  • Reply 7 of 44
    These two line items:
    • Much better camera than the iPhone. 3.2 megapixels compared to 2 megapixels and it does video too.

    • Storm also has copy-and-paste, MMS, voice dialing and tethering capabilities.

    Cover 99% of people's issues with the iPhone...



    It sure would be nice to see some of these soon...
  • Reply 8 of 44
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post


    I always wondered why Apple did not incorporate the vibrating layer to simulate a pressed key. It might be because it'll make the iPhone a little thicker or maybe because of the glass screen.



    This is a big step for BlackBerry, and unlike Apple, they were obviously listening to the iPhone crowd who were complaining about no video camera, copy paste, SMS, tethering, or voice dialing.



    I really like the fact that the camera has auto focus, but I'm not sure about the quality of its 3.2mpixel camera, it probably sucks as much as the iPhone and the G1.



    The battery life is an unfair comparison because the BalckBerry lacks WiFi. The iPhone's battery lasts a lot longer if that feature is turned off when its not needed.



    Conclusion: iPhone is still king in many ways, but Apple is frustrating many of its users by giving them lots of wants and not taking their needs seriously.



    Yeah Apple is letting go most of their customers do to not fixing major issues. Even though some reviews say the iPhone has a better browsing interface compared to the Blackberry I know they are only talking about the browsing they experienced on the iPhone during their previous review. Because I will take any other browser at this pooint because of how much iPhone browser crashes and lags during text input. I was looking forward to this phone because of all the features the iPhone lacks. Sucks there is no WiFi but I wouldn't even use WiFi on my iPhone if I had 3G where I lived. So I don't know. I am still going to look at the phone because I really need copy/paste, MMS, and a less laggy phone than the iPhone. I bet the blackberrys regular features don't lag such as its text messaging, contact viewing, and phone features like the iPhone lags. I hate when I have to text to someone or make a call it takes so long to get to each screen with the annoying delays.
  • Reply 9 of 44
    Mossberg's review says no wireless synch. What does he mean by that. My current BB automatically synch's with outlook through verizon's network without me having to physically connect to my computer. This is a critical feature and I don't understand how the new hardware would not support this.



    Does he mean that, or not being able to synch via WiFi or Bluetooth?
  • Reply 10 of 44
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Daniel0418 View Post


    Yeah Apple is letting go most of their customers do to not fixing major issues. Even though some reviews say the iPhone has a better browsing interface compared to the Blackberry I know they are only talking about the browsing they experienced on the iPhone during their previous review. Because I will take any other browser at this pooint because of how much iPhone browser crashes and lags during text input. I was looking forward to this phone because of all the features the iPhone lacks. Sucks there is no WiFi but I wouldn't even use WiFi on my iPhone if I had 3G where I lived. So I don't know. I am still going to look at the phone because I really need copy/paste, MMS, and a less laggy phone than the iPhone. I bet the blackberrys regular features don't lag such as its text messaging, contact viewing, and phone features like the iPhone lags. I hate when I have to text to someone or make a call it takes so long to get to each screen with the annoying delays.



    I am not experiencing any regular browser crashes, contact lags, or any other lags. You should go to an Apple store and get your iPhone checked out, did you jail-break it?



    I know for a fact though that if you have many contacts, (over 500) you should separate them into groups because the iPhone tends to load all the contacts into memory before displaying them.
  • Reply 11 of 44
    nofeernofeer Posts: 2,422member
    no mobleme

    no itunes

    no wifi

    sleepy os



    but it has

    mms

    voice dialing (please apple please do this for me)





    why no wifi???? is their network faster than att?
  • Reply 12 of 44
    adjeiadjei Posts: 738member
    So far most of the reviews have been negative. I guess this isn't the supposed iphone killer, NEXT.
  • Reply 13 of 44
    I'm very glad that the iPhone gets dinged for its crappy, crappy camera. Although the stupid journalists tend to point to the megapixels as part of the problem, several get to the real factors like optics and flash.



    If the iPhone had zoom, auto-focus and flash, the puny 2MP resolution could still prove sufficient.



    Example: I was at a talk in a well-lit room, sitting about 15-20 feet from a whiteboard and being able to snap a photo of what was written would have been great. Unfortunately, my photos were illegible. Lost chance to delight a customer!



    The iPhone is so wonderful in so many other ways that the crappiness of the camera is conspicuous.
  • Reply 14 of 44
    It's disappointing that this is such a poor alternative to the iPhone. Don't get me wrong, I want Apple to win, but I don't want it to be by the fact that they have no competent competition. A strong rival keeps you sharp, keeps you pushing innovation and listening to your customers. Excessive success without check leads to narcissism and outright laziness.



    I'm not saying they're there yet, but we have seen minor examples of this. No upgrade to the camera in the 3G? Still no copy/paste? Not deal-breakers, but definitely cracks... Ignore enough of them and you've got a flood.



    Just my two cents.



    A--
  • Reply 15 of 44
    taurontauron Posts: 911member
    The new blackberry is the fusion of junk and crapola.



    It is RIM realizing they had the design all wrong in the first place. But now it is too late.



    In the end RIM will loose to the iPhone in all markets.
  • Reply 16 of 44
    wircwirc Posts: 302member
    Doesn't look to amazing, but haptic feedback would be great on an iPhone. That would make the glassboard much more intuitive.



    Definitely stole the look from Apple. It must be very fun to be a style broker like Jobs and Ive are.
  • Reply 17 of 44
    adjeiadjei Posts: 738member
    RIM should have developed a new OS from the ground up for this phone but instead they took their old OS and slapped it on a touchscreen.
  • Reply 18 of 44
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post


    I am not experiencing any regular browser crashes, contact lags, or any other lags. You should go to an Apple store and get your iPhone checked out, did you jail-break it?



    I know for a fact though that if you have many contacts, (over 500) you should separate them into groups because the iPhone tends to load all the contacts into memory before displaying them.



    Actually, it isn't just my iPhone I have had it replaced many times. Go to the apple forum with your iPhone and try to type a message in apples very own forum it will crash every time. Type a message with your iPhone in this forum and it will atleast lag and sometimes crash. Any forum it will lag really bad. Most log in screens like for Gmail, Yahoo, Aol, and others it will lag during text input. My phone is not jail broken contacts I only have about 120 and it lags loading, texting occasionally lags when typing usually lags when I first push the box to to start typing, usually lags when I first push the SMS button. This has happened on all 3 of my iPhone 3g's. And on my girlfriends. And on my old 1st Gen iPhone. Go to apple and find the forum about safari crashing you will see there are hundreds upon hundreds of people complaining about it. Apple hasn't even acknowledged that it is a problem yet. Anyway yes a nice Lag free phone would be a nice replacement of the iPhone. I will wait till that phone comes out and hopefully it does.
  • Reply 19 of 44
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,583member
    Nothing like a little competition to elevate the iPhone and make it shine just a little but brighter
  • Reply 20 of 44
    Regarding the Storm's lack of finesse, does anybody know its approximate R&D cycle compared to the iPhone's?



    As one of the reviewers pointed, "the Storm's interface seems rushed."



    I heard that Apple took about 3-4 years to develop the iPhone. Can it be copied--and improved upon--within 9-12 months?
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