BlackBerry Storm Review
June 2009: A software update to version 4.7.0.148 has been released. It fixes a lot of the issues mentioned in this review. You can check our hands-on with the new update here.

This review has been updated on 11 December, 2008

Introduction:

What’s this, the new BlackBerry? Woah, it has no keyboard. And…did it just click? You’ve never clicked a screen before, is that supposed to happen? Is it supposed to feel so…tiring? And why is this screen wiggling around, am I supposed to be seeing the circuit board? Why is it so heavy; the iPhone isn’t this heavy? The interface is pretty neat, but why are page transitions taking so long. Did it just flip orientations on me? I didn’t even move it. Wait, now I did move it and the orientation isn’t following. What’s going on, I thought this was supposed to be an iPhone killer? This is what Verizon is putting their muscle behind? Really?

And so goes our first ten minutes with the BlackBerry Storm. RIM, the company that said touchscreens were a fad, has thrown their hat in game with their latest and “greatest” device. The only problem is that this device will alienate their customer base. We have no doubt it will sell, after all how many posers are carrying BlackBerries now just to say they have one, unaware of what BlackBerry Internet Service or Desktop Manger even is. Too many, and the Storm will only exaggerate that. But the true BlackBerry user, the enterprise customer who would just as soon trade in their wife then their beloved Curve, they won’t last five minutes with this. It’s unstable. Typing is atrocious and unbelievably inaccurate (seriously, there were times when we couldn’t even decipher what we had just typed.)

Ok, it's not all bad and for those users that don't actually use a BlackBerry for its BlackBerry functions it's a pretty good device. The browser is pretty awesome. The new interface has eyecandy galore, although there’s really nothing fundamentally new. “Verizon” isn’t plastered all over the device. Videos look fantastic on the 3.2” crystal clear display, and with 1GB of internal storage and an included 8GB microSD card there is plenty room to store them. It has an autofocusing 3.2 megapixel camera with flash that can record QVGA videos. It’s a quad-band GSM device, and VZW will eventually provide you with the subsidy unlock code, meaning that you can conceivably use it on T-Mobile or AT&T here in the States, though you won’t have 3G data. But it’s just…off.

Design:

The first thing you notice is how heavy the Storm is. It’s nearly an ounce heavier than the iPhone and Bold, and a full ounce and a half heavier than the Diamond and Curve. We appreciate heft for the sake of quality, and in fact have taken some criticism for knocking devices that are too light, but the Storm is just plain heavy. It’s also wide; its 2mm narrower than the iPhone, but 6, 9 and 12mm wider than the Curve, Dare and Diamond, respectively. The 3.2” display makes it tall, but it’s a full 7mm taller than the Instinct which also has a 3.2” screen.




You can compare the BlackBerry Storm with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

For the most part the design is very solid. Its very iPhoney in appearance, with the large touchscreen and chrome trim, but you’ll never be mistaking the two. Four familiar hardkeys- Send, Menu, Escape, End- sit at the bottom of the unit, though this time without a trackball to separate them. On the left side is a convenience key and microUSB charging/data port (a first for RIM); on the right is a 3.5mm headset jack, volume rocker and another convenience key. All of the side keys are chrome, and the black side housing has a rubbery finish.


The 3.2MP camera and flash are in a glossy housing on the top of the rear of the Storm. The prominent battery door is brushed metal which feels wonderful. At the top of the door is an embedded chrome BlackBerry logo, and at the bottom is a small, screen printed Verizon one. Shockingly, this is the only Verizon branding you’ll find on the Storm, a very welcome change from pretty much every device they’ve put out in the past 8 years. The very bottom of the back is the same rubbery finish as the side housing, and in fact integrates with it.


The single speaker sits on the back where the door meets the rubber housing. RIM has incorporated a subtle but great design touch, and flanking the speaker are two rubber feet which raise the device off of a surface ever so much. One of the biggest problems with rear facing speakers is that they are muffled when set down, and this slight spacing cleverly addresses that issue. Kudos to the engineer who thought that one through!

In portrait mode the Storm feels unnatural in the hand, much like the iPhone only heavier. It’s much better in landscape mode, and we’d imagine most people will be utilizing this orientation more often than not. The weight is better when holding it with two hands rather than one, but that’s not to say it’s good.


The screen, oh man the screen. It’s pretty darn gorgeous, but we can’t get over how it moves. It was literally the first thing we noticed when we picked the device up, and our exact reaction is “why the hell does this thing wiggle?” It’s very disconcerting, and makes the Storm feel incredibly cheap. There is play in all four sideways directions, and a lot of it. We’re not talking a little wiggle, we’re talking gaps big enough that you can clearly see the circuit board below. We realize it’s probably necessary and alleviates stress when clicking the screen, but man does it cheapen the device. But it is pretty. Videos looked amazing; crisp and bright and vivid.

And then there’s the whole clicking issue. In theory it’s a good idea, because who hasn’t inadvertently brushed a touchscreen and selected something they didn’t want. By highlighting with a tap, then selecting with a press theoretically the user gets exactly what they want. For those reluctant to give up their keyboard it also provides tactile feedback. The key terms here is “in theory,” because in practice it’s annoying.

First off, if it worked perfectly it might be a different story, but it doesn’t. Lag is present throughout the device (more on that later) but most frustrating with the selection process. There are times when we found ourselves clicking on an item, but the Storm only registered the highlight. It wasn’t common, but common enough to be a legitimate gripe. It is also inconsistent. In the commercial we see the mysterious hand swiping across the home icons, and the highlight following his finger. This doesn’t happen in real life, at least not on the homescreen or main menu. In the Media application, however, you can do just that with the icons at the bottom. Again, minor gripe but it’s just an illustration of the ill-executed nature of the Storm.

Most importantly is typing, especially since we’re talking about a BlackBerry. To say the Storm misses the mark is an understatement. This may sound like hyperbole, but we cannot think of a keyboard worse than the Storm. Ever. Touchscreen or not. Unless you’re typing along at hunt-and-peck speeds it simply cannot keep up with you and is horribly inaccurate. We compared onscreen keyboards from the Diamond, iPhone, Instinct and Dare and put them up against the Storm. On the first three devices we were able to quickly tap out messages with minimal mistakes, and autocorrect usually fixed our errors. The Dare had some trouble keeping up, as we noted in our touchscreen comparison review, but in general it got most of it. Messages on the Strom were often unreadable. As we slowed down we got more accurate, and tweaking some of the sensitivity settings helped a bit, but at full speed it just plain couldn’t perform.

We have a feeling there are two things that may be causing this. First and foremost is that the software just isn’t that good. The other factor, one that we could control, is that the screen can’t handle multiple presses (multi-touch.) We found that there were times our one hand was still slightly touching the screen, so that when we clicked with the other it registered the wrong finger. In this respect there is a learning curve, but we don’t get the feeling that we’d have it mastered in any amount of time. After all, with the exception of the iPhone none of the other phones have multi-touch and we did not run into the same issue. Keyboards have always set BlackBerry devices apart from the rest of the crowd, and the Storm is no different, except that this time it’s setting the standard on the other end of the spectrum.

Lastly, typing is tiring. After just a few messages our thumbs began to feel fatigued, and we were not alone in thinking that. We had several people try the device, and without mentioning it they all said the same thing. Keep in mind this was just after a few quick text and PIN messages, typing out a full email was downright exhausting on our thumbs. We often found ourselves wondering how RIM could have ever passed this device through beta testing, not to mention release it and market it as the iPhone killer.


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162 Comments

162. Rhyno

Posts: 5; Member since: Apr 05, 2009

I am trying to decide between The Bold and The Storm. My main uses on the phone would be web-surfing and some e-mailing. Is the big touch screen and finger scrolling better for this? I am aware of some of the problems that this has had, but believe that firmware updates are sorting them out.(I also like the gimmick of a touch screen though) I really like the look of The Bold and like a physical keyboard.I also believe the web browsing isn't as easy on The Bold. Is that correct? What should I do? Any help is appreciated!

161. BBBOY

Posts: 18; Member since: Feb 12, 2009

no matter how bad you think the storm performed but i honestly in my opinion dont believe that you should have gave it a 6. I have used the device and yeah it may lag at times but it is an extraordinary device that will definitely get better in the near future. and the keyboard is tyring???? please! once again that is your opinion. and i will just leave it at that.

160. kellybl131

Posts: 42; Member since: Jan 19, 2009

OK...seriously. If you add up the score the phone received you get 65 divide that by 8 you get 8.1? How did the storm get a 6 if the average is an 8.1? Phonearena is beyond biased! Thanks for making it easy for me to pick which web site to NOT trust for honest reviews on cell phones from the staff. Congrats.

159. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

its amazing how they have a front page article for every IPHONE UPDATE for bug fixes that did NOT fix the bugs, but you really have to strain ur eyes to find that BB update article.. is it here? :( the storm already beats out the iphone in most categorys that mean anything, features, function, business function. the iphone still has its screen functionality and overall slickness. a few more updates and the storm will have that as well. the iphone is yesterdays toy.

157. jherz6

Posts: 217; Member since: May 23, 2008

The storm is my first experience with using a touch screen device, and so far so good. I disagree with the originator of the message I found the typing accurate and easy from the begining to say that it is in accurate and atrocious is utter nonsense. Exhausting? hardly. Its no more difficult than my 8830. The difference between the two is that if people want a toy they'll buy the iphone, and if they want a well thought out device the'll buy the storm.

156. Jyakotu

Posts: 868; Member since: Dec 12, 2008

Can't really blame Phone Arena for rating the Storm so harshly. After all, RIM believed that the Storm could take on the iPhone.

154. icarus

Posts: 24; Member since: Dec 12, 2008

don't worry, by time the next softwear upgrade comes along they'll have this review buried too deep to find.That way they don't have to put down their I-phones to write a fari review. I'm not a huge fan of the Storm, i'm holding final judgement for the next upgrade, but man, talk about a hatchet job

158. jherz6

Posts: 217; Member since: May 23, 2008

Define hatchet Job.

153. unregistered

true they didnt change shit but there is another update coming that is a huge improvement over thishttp://www.boygeniusreport.com/2008/11/30/blackberry-storm-os-47076-other-versions-left-dead-in-the ir-tracks/

152. t dubb unregistered

you guys didnt change much in your review. To move from a 5.5 to a 6 is just ridiculous. But everyone has their opinion. Maybe u are just stuck on the iphone which you gave a 9. For a multimedia phone that doesn't do mulitmedia messaging or video recording and has a 2mp camera even with the 2nd upgrade without stereo bluetooth (Are you kiddin), no removable battery, no additional memory. Above all that, it doesn't even allow a full qwerty keyboard when holding it horizontal. It's intuitive, with a nice os and 3rd party application center, that's all. Therefore a x1 should get like a 15 cause it has all that plus an original keyboard. Just stick with your iphone. The storm isn't heavy and it is a better aerodynamic phone than the iphone which is too long and impossible to hold. I have an itouch which is the same. You are worried about the screen wiggling, but what about iphone screens cracking and you having to pay full price. If my screen doesn't click, guess what, I can take it back for another that ships overnight with a fee of 50 bucks at the most. What do you know about phones? Tell me.

147. just me unregistered

I'm never going to this website again. Back to the old phonescoop.com I suppose. *sigh*

146. BB unregistered

I have had mine for a few day and I like it. It is no iPhone killer but the Storm works for me and I refuse to go to AT&T. Been there already. Verizon is much easier to work with. I do not text very much so once again the Storm suits me well. Music plays well and good access to internet and calendar updates to Outlook. One more thing, it even works great as a phone. What a concept.

144. unregistered

Got it Tried it sent it back Poor Performance Poor Support poor customer service APPLE WINS

117. leo.brazuca

Posts: 4; Member since: Aug 11, 2008

I Have the blackberry Storm since November 22. I already Had the iPhone and used the HTC Diamond Pro. I don't see how you can make a comment saying that the Storm typing is bad, how the phone is not even close to be the iPhone killer. The phone is heavy but it doesn't feel that heavy in hands and guess what? Once I pass my finger across the screen the selection will follow my finger, on the main menu screen or on the home screen. Typing is not a problem AT ALL for me, actually it was a problem with the LG DARE and the iPhone but with the Storm no problem at all. VZ Navigator, for me is one of the best GPS comparing to all the carriers, I've used the Sprint's TeleNav and i could never find my own house. YES, THERE IS AN OS UPDATE FOR THE STORM...i Got it last night and the phone got even better. The Link bellow will take to the upgrade, you can e-mail me a leo@from-brasil.com for instructions on how to proceed and I will send you an e-mail back with the step-by-step on how to UPDATE your OS.http://www.ndnguyen.com/bbstorm/9530AMEA_PBr4%5b1%5d.7.0_rel107_PL4.0.0.94_A4.7.0.75.exe I really think that phonearena.com is the only website where I was able to find someone saying that the Storm is not a good phone and has problem on the touch screen.

135. R U SERIOUS??? unregistered

Try the NY times and even Cnet and even the WSJ all gave the storm far from stellar reviews....

139. unregistered

You can't see how they say the Storm typing is bad and yet EVERY review I've read has stated that they don't care for the keyboard. I guess all of the reviews I've read (CNET, Phonescoop, Phonearena) are wrong.

140. leo.brazuca

Posts: 4; Member since: Aug 11, 2008

I have the phone and I know what I am talking about it, I work on the wireless industry and for me the storm is better then any other touch screen phone that I had in hands by far, thats including the iPhone

111. unregistered

I work for Verizon Wireless and I'm a Blackberry user but the Storm is junk. To be totally honest I don't even have Verizon for my wireless provider I have At&t and the service is so much better and the Blackberry I have is better than the one I had with Verizon.

112. unregistered

To be totally honest, you are a total liar. Stevie Wonder could see through your statement. We all know you do not work for Verizon, I doubt your store manager would allow you to have another carrier because it is a direct violation of the SKPs.

113. unregistered

I work in customer service and we dont have to have Verizon so no Im not lying to work for Verizon you don't have to work in a store. Ever think about that one?

114. unregistered

I to work for Verizon in customer service and a lot of people here have at&t. And Verizon cannot make a store rep have a Verizon phone. If the rep doesn't want to have Verizon that's up to them not Verizon

115. unregistered

they cant make u give up your phone but if you're a sales rep, u have to carry a verizon consession line so customers can reach you

129. unregistered

you doubt cuz you dont know. you can work where ever and have whatever PERSONAL phone you want.

132. unregistered

Just because the item is personal doesn't mean it can be brought to a workplace. Business' have SKPs that they set to address this. If a DM walked in the store and seen a sales rep with a phone other than Verizon in the store (and I repeat, in the store), they can get terminated because it is not allowed on Verizon property. I have a big personal collection of porn, but that doesnt mean I can bring it to work. I have a nice personal wardrobe, but I cannot wear what I want to work. You probably work at McDonalds, I dare you walk in eating a Whopper.

133. unregistered

Whether in a store or call center, any other carrier's cell phone is not allowed. Unless you hide your phone, as if it were a vile of crack.

141. unregistered

There are people who have cell phones with other carriers that work at verizon. When I first started work for verizon I had att and I will never go back to them. I have noticed a huge difference in quality. I get more signal in more places. The amt of people who have other carriers that work for verizon are VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY tiny due to the fact that employees get a 50% discount on all plans and features. That's cheaper than sprint and even small cell companies. Why wouldn't you have verizon? Truly only an idiot would still have att. not to mention only an idiot would bash the company they work for considering the better the company does the more money and the better bonus we make. So honestly, just 2 things can be true. Either this person is a complete, and i mean COMPLETE IDIOT or they are just a liar acting like they work for verizon. Either way. They're not someone an inteligent person would listen to.

143. unregistered

i didnt say you could bring it work. i said you can work where ever, and have whatever you want. its like saying i could never own a mercedes cause i work at chevy. your porn comparison answered your own claim. also not everyone eats where they work. if did, i would if i wanted to.

145. unregistered

did you really just make that horrible anology... "thats like working at a dorito factory and eating pringles!".

150. unregistered

well no im not an idiot i do work for verizon the storm does suck. but im on a family share plan on my dads business acct and at&t gives him a discount where verizon doesnt.and hey while im in school if someone else wants to pay my phone bill thats fine with me. and just about everyone i work with in MY call center has at&t. and there are out source call centers as well that are "verizon" and we dont get a discount from verizon so again at&t is cheaper.

151. unregistered

ok, see, definitely a liar. I can gaurentee just about everyone in your call center does not have att unless it is an att call center. Or does everyone have someone else paying for their phone bill where you work? As for outsource centers, they do get discounts too. I work with them on a regular basis. What call center do you work at if you really do? And how did you get the storm to see exactly how good it is? You can let me know or just admit you're full of it.
Storm 9530
  • Display 3.2 inches
    480 x 360 pixels
  • Camera 3.2 MP (Single camera)
    front
  • Hardware , 0.1GB RAM
  • Storage 1GB, microSDHC
  • Battery 1400 mAh
  • OS BlackBerry 4.7.x

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