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Wednesday, January 7, 2009
I really like the Blackberry Storm
I finally got around to ordering my corporate Blackberry right before the holidays. I ended up choosing the Blackberry Storm over the other phones we had to choose from (Bold, Curve, Pearl, etc.). I have a Moto Q9h as my personal phone and the Bold just seemed too similar in terms of the form factor. So, despite the mixed reviews, I went with the Storm.

After using it for a couple of weeks, I feel like I made a good decision. I really like it a lot.

The Good
1. The screen
The Storm features a bright, 480 x 360 resolution, 3.25" touchscreen.

Guess it is time to change my background image

It makes e-mails and webpages easier to read than on most traditional smartphone screens. Comparing the Storm's viewing area to that of my Moto Q9h is no contest.

My Moto Q9h next to my Blackberry Storm

2. Touch-click interface
Not sure what the official name is for the interface; however, I like having two different options for interacting with items of the screen: touching (to highlight something) and clicking (to select something). This allows for scrolling screens of program icons (as opposed to the pagination on the iPhone) without any accidental keystrokes. It also allows for dropdown menus that can be scrolled before selecting an item.

I also was relieved to find that the clicking of the screen sounds nothing like the sound effect they use on the TV commercials. In fact, mine doesn't make a sound at all when I click it.

One of my female co-workers found that her fingernails prevented her from being able to press the onscreen icons. So, you may need a manicure before getting the most out of the Storm.

3. The onscreen keyboard
This has been one of the most criticized features of the Storm; however, I have not really had a problem with it. As with the iPhone's keyboard, it took a little time to get used to it. I found that after a couple of hours of use, I had pretty much mastered it.

As long as you don't cross over the center line on the keyboard (between the "T" and the "Y") with your thumbs, your typing will be accurate.

The key to success with the QWERTY version of the keyboard is to keep your thumbs on the proper half of the screen. For example, trying to type a "Q" with your right thumb is only asking for trouble. Use your left thumb and you're good.

4. The browser
It's not quite Safari on an iPhone, but the Blackberry browser on the Storm is really good. Scrolling is done with your finger. Zooming in or out is controlled by clicking the screen.

5. Storage capacity
The Storm has 1GB on onboard storage and, at least on Verizon, comes preloaded with an 8GB microSD card (It will accept up to a 16GB microSD card).

The Bad
1. The camera
The camera on the Storm has decent specs for a phone. It is 3.2 megapixels with a flash. Unfortunately, it is ridiculously slow to respond. Not sure what the issue is, but I am hoping they can resolve it in a future software update.

The swing set is back!
A sample photo taken with the Storm

2. The tilt sensor
Even after applying the .75 firmware which was supposed to fix some of the issues, switching between portrait and landscape view is still pretty flaky.

If you aren't holding the Storm at a certain angle (actually it is more of a range of angles that are acceptable), it won't switch between views. If you're holding it straight up (perpendicular to the ground), then switching is no problem. Unfortunately, I usually hold mine much flatter (more parallel to the ground), so I have to change the position of the Storm in order to switch views reliably.

Not a dealbreaker, but it definitely took some getting used to.

3. Lack of app support
This really isn't RIM's fault; however, several of my favorite apps from my Windows Mobile phone aren't available for the Storm. The three that I miss the most are Slingplayer Mobile (which has a beta Blackberry app out, but it doesn't support the Storm), Slacker Radio (which has a beta Blackberry app out, but it doesn't support the Storm) and Qik (which has a beta Blackberry app out, but it doesn't... seeing a theme here?).

All of those apps have Storm versions in the works; however, I think it is still something to note if you're considering the Storm.

The Bottom Line
If you are comfortable with a touchscreen interface and can live without a physical keyboard (which might be a big adjustment for existing Blackberry users), you should have no problem making the transition to the Storm.

There are still a few quirks that need to be addressed in subsequent software updates, but I can still recommend it in the meantime.

About Shawn Morton

Married father of 6; VP of Social Media at JPMorgan Chase; gluten-free; gadget enthusiast; hair metal aficionado; #Movember man View more on LinkedIn.