BlackBerry Storm Hands-On Reviews!

BlackBerry Storm
By Kevin Michaluk on 8 Oct 2008 05:04 am EDT
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The BlackBerry Storm's official press release crossed the wire at 12:01am on October 8th, and at the same time three hands-on reviews of the BlackBerry Storm went live on the net. As it turns out, there was a special press event in NYC on October 1st where the lucky few in attendance were permitted to get some hands-on time with the Storm and get their embargoed reviews ready for the official launch. I'll just assume somebody at RIM accidentally forgot to send me an invite :-)

I'm not bitter though... just envious! After reading the reviews posted by Engadget, Gizmodo and Phonescoop (Laptop and PCMag have good hands-ons reviews too) I'd just about KILL to get my hands-on a BlackBerry Storm (so if you have happen to have one, watch your back! Seriously... I'm not joking.). Besides, we've been on a hot streak as of late - it's about time the love gets spread around... we were the first to review the Bold, the Pearl Flip and the Javelin (video coming on Thursday once the Wednesday Storm dust settles), and we've had our share of touchscreen firsts too: first to tell you RIM's BlackBerry touchscreen phone would be called the Storm, first to tell you its keyboard would be awesome to type on, first to bring you LIVE pics and just this Monday we even brought news to the world of RIM's new Application Center that will debut on the Storm's OS4.7 (still not sure if it will be there at launch, but we know it's coming). Hmm... maybe there's a reason I wasn't invited?! Somebody at RIM must have guessed an embargo with CrackBerry.com wouldn't last eight hours, nevermind eight days!

Thanks to a blogosphere gone wild with Storm leaks these past few weeks we already knew most of what there is to know about RIM's first touchscreen phone. But marketing shots and device simulator images are never as good as seeing a device and hearing from somebody who has experienced it hands-on, so you definitely have to check out the reviews that have been posted (and browse through the image galleries!). I don't want to take away from any of the awesome review work done here, so after the jump I'll keep it short and just post a couple of quotes, a few images and takeaways and let you read the rest first hand. Enjoy!! 

BlackBerry Storm Hands-on Reviews

Overall Impressions
It seems the overall hands-on impressions of the BlackBerry Storm have been uber-positive and in alignment with most of the predictions and discussions we have  had about the Storm to date (you'll need to listen to the past few CrackBerry Podcasts to hear all of those). The "ClickThrough" touchscreen takes a divergent approach from other touchscreens on the market, but works well (though it's the kind of thing you're likely either going to love or hate), and especially makes typing on the keyboard an enjoyable experience. At its core the Storm is still very much a BlackBerry especially with the "navigate and click" approach RIM has taken that closely mimics the existing BlackBerry trackball experience. The form factor sounds comfortable, "pocketable" and all toll should still be a device you can use one-handed (HUGE!). And just like the BlackBerry Bold, the display on the Storm is top notch...but of course much bigger!

The Storm isn't 100% perfect though and all of the hands-on reviews fairly touched upon the Storm's weaker points. Here's Engadget's final conclusion:

Carrier (Verizon) and budget (unknown) constraints aside, what it's probably going to boil down to is whether or not the BlackBerry OS is your style. RIM hasn't done an overhaul to make touchscreen viable, instead banking on its navigation / execution paradigm to make the transition to touch -- which for the most part it does brilliantly. RIM hasn't in any way made the phone unattractive to its traditional corporate loyalists, and might just manage to snag other users looking for a flashy phone with decent email, but when it comes to browsing, media playback and other forms of consumer-friendliness, RIM still has a ways to go. 

Phonescoop's main nitpick was the browser, which as they point out (and which we know from experience from the BlackBerry Bold) will likely get better with software updates:

There's a lot for both the BlackBerry faithful and news users to like. The innovative tactile touch screen alone will sell quite a few of these. My only major gripe - the browser speed - is definitely the kind of thing that can be - and often is - addressed by a software update. If you're the kind of user who's been tempted by the iPhone, but just can't quit your CrackBerry, your new drug is coming soon to your neighborhood dealer (Verizon dealer, that is.) 

And Gizmodo summed it up from a Verizon customers point of view:

This will be the most important phone in Verizon's lineup, and from the looks of it, the best. Some people will hate ClickThrough-it's not a perfect solution, but it's genuinely innovative and really damn good. Some people will hate that it's not the iPhone (or the G1, since it's another tightly integrated hardware/software package). But for BlackBerry users looking for a touchscreen phone, or Verizon customers who don't want to do without the carrier's superior coverage area, this is the best there is. 

Picture Time!

BlackBerry Storm Capactive touchscreen lights up as your finger touches the glass. Youl need to click on the screen for it to take action as a press.

BlackBerry Storm Entering special characters on the touchscreen.

BlackBerry Storm The "keys" are nice and big. Should be solid for typing accuracy.

BlackBerry Storm Media card is under the battery cover, but is easy to access (ships with 8gb card).

BlackBerry Storm Side by Side with the BlackBerry Curve 8330.

BlackBerry Storm
Side by Side with the iPhone

BlackBerry Storm Web browser does a solid job of rendering pages. Still some room for improvement.

BlackBerry Storm Makes an awesome Alarm clock with docking station. Wicked!!

BlackBerry Storm Looks great skinned!

BlackBerry Storm Battery doors will be available in different colors. Sweet.

 

Awesome or what?! Take a read through the reviews and be sure to report back with your reactions, comments, questions, takeaways, etc. 

Where's the devil when you need him? I'd seriously sell my soul to get one of these in my hands right now! 

 

For more information, read these hands-on reviews:

 

Topics: News & Rumors

Reader comments

BlackBerry Storm Hands-On Reviews!

54 Comments

*Head Explodes* WOW WOW WOW...So much Storm Blogs don't know where to post :) This just looks fantastic, just have to get my hands on one ASAP...My G/F will get my Bold, I want the Storm !!!

Boo & Hiss at RIM for not giving Kevin an invite, he does more for Blackberry users than anyone else !!

I agree. Not giving Kevin the newest Blackberry is like not giving James Bond an Aston Martin. What idiot forgot to mail that invite out?

I got mine on Friday walked out of the store it wouldnt come on took it back in they said it was because the Verizion wireless system was over loaded to give it 30 min
Ever since Friday the phone shuts off and its impossible to get it back on its very slow when its on Im a very expierenced bb user and its very hard to type on the letters. I took the phone back in today because it shut off and wont come on (this is after making sure a full charge and taking the battery out and putting back in) Verizion told me that they are back ordered until January 29,2009 and that I have to wait until then that there is nothing they can do and that Blackberry dosent have replacement phones so they cant honor the warranty.

Be careful it looks great and it does have some good features but I have to be without a phone for a month and a half becuase there are no phones available. The customer service rep at the store said they are having tons of customer come in with the same problems so this isnt just a bad phone that I got

Why can't they give us a release date. I meen come on, what is up with this torture. Are they trying to kill their customers?

Amazing amazing amazing! Just came from the telus dealer,
my storm is officially reserved (friends with a telus
dealer). Happy dayyy!

I have to say that I'm 50/50 on this. For the most part, I think I'm dying to have this sucker in my hand, but there's no wifi to it. Normally, I would not have a problem with that. But my house gets NO reception inside and I have to go outside to get it. That becomes a problem as a Storm would basically become an expensive alarm clock for me inside my home. But we'll see.

One question though. Nobody seems to talk about how good the camera is. 3.2MP, sure, but is it a good camera or one of these crappy cell cameras that everyone else has? I'd like to see some example photos from one if possible.

Some of the initial reviews state that the GPS will be available to other applications. Can anyone confirm that VZW isn't locking the GPS like they've done in the past with the Pearl/Curve/etc?

j.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ! For the 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000th time !!!

Some reviews state that you can get the SIM slot unlocked by request BY VERIZON! (OMG) ..if that is the case you should be able to use it with and one of the many GSM based carriers in addition to Verizon.

..I will require this before I hand over my money!

So why, with all this information already out and the official announcement already made, is VZW.com lagging on the launch of their Storm Website??

Any Guesses??

So why, with all this information already out and the official announcement already made, is VZW.com lagging on the launch of their Storm Website??

Any Guesses??

Me likey! But you just can't pay me enough to switch to Verizon for this puppy. I'll just stick with my curve until I can upgrade... then I might make the jump to an iPhone if a 32GB one is available by then (*gasp!shock!horror!).

I'm disappointed that you didn't get an invitation, Kevin. :(
Don't worry Cinderfella, you'll still get your princess (BB 9530 Strom) in the end...
We are all anticipating YOUR full review!!!

I have the official release date!! It will be released on November 9, 2008. Work for vzw all hands must be on deck in stores for a Sunday!!

I heard differently on the release date. Nov 4. But who is to say managers in Verizon stores really know any more than you or I at this point.

When does Verizon typically drop new phones? Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays? Both of you are hearing the same week so knowing what day VZW launches phones may tell us the real date.

Did anyone notice that the Blackberry Storm does not support HSPA on the frequency bands for the US? It only supports the main band, 2100 MHz. So, you cannot get the high speeds on AT&T or T-mobile.

The hands-on reviews by other authors didn't get a Storm. They were all invited to the same event where they all took pictures of the same press setup. Look at the photos across the different hands-on reviews - they are at the same place. Each author got a short amount of time (<30 min) with the device.

It sucks Kevin wasn't invited but its not like these other authors were sent a Storm. None of the authors are rocking the phone right now.

Kevin, maybe you can find your way into one of the VZW press or training events to play with the phone. I think RIM only does the one press day and leave the rest of the events for the carriers.

What's with the roughly 1/2 inch space between the front keys and the bottom of the screen? What's beneath that? Is it just a plastic spacer, and if so, why wouldn't they utilize that space or make the phone smaller??...confused...

I wonder if they will come out with a color phone other than that standard black like a pretty pink color that would be worth waiting for.
At least for me.

Can you buy it either unlocked? or from a Blackberry store? and drop your sim card into it and have it work?
Cuz I cannot leave T-mobile their rate plans are amazing and their new 3g network just came to my area. Is the storm a 3g phone?

Yes the Storm is 3G. I'm with T-Mobile and I would love to have the Storm, but no amount of money will make me switch to Verizon!!

I haven't seen any reviewer even mention sound quality, a well-known Blackberry weakness, on the Storm's phone. Does anyone know anything about it?

Also, can the phone be used internationaly, including Japan and Korea?

One of the reviews mentions great sound quality.. something about an extra mic at the back of the phone used to measure and filter background noise.

I have this device, i no longer use it. It is very hard to use, not functional and stupid. looks good, works horribly, wait to play with one before you buy, i wouldnt pay 100 buck for this device. Sad to say because I love BB.

Well.. RIM Storm looks handsome enough, but is a big disappoint to prospective buyers hoping for a credible touch-based iPhone alternative.
I was waiting for G1 few weeks back and that also couldn't make my hope..

I got to the Verizon store early on Friday @ 8:00am the day of release, The line was insane. Had to wait for the FedEx truck to bring in the 2nd shipment of phones on that day so I was out of the store by 12:30pm. I have read some of the blogs saying that the phone is not good or has issues. I have played with it non stop for almost a week and have not found any real problems. I was so glad to get rid of my I phone 3G now you want to talk about a waste of time and money for a touch screen that is it. The quality and functionality is great on the Storm not to mention that Verizon has a lot better service! I would give this phone the title of I-phone killer any day. I killed my I phone for the Storm and I'm glad I did. Can be a little faster going from landscape to portrait but a 2 to 3 second wait is not that bad.

I bought a voyager, my palm 650 broke,and when I went back to the store to get the price drop refund, a rep was in the store with a storm. I go to spend 30 min with it. The video playback is amazing. but the sound is kinda week vs the voyagers. I was informed that they would get a total of 3 until the end of January. I'm number 1 on the list. it should be in the store on the 3rd. and its only 20 bucks more than I paid for the voyager. love the voyager but cant live without a good contact list and calender. the screen is very weird the first time you push it. but having had touchscreens for 5 plus years i found it easy to use. didn't know about the docking station. Will have to get that. Cant wait 2 more days!!!!

I love the storm, however, it glitches a lot. It will have different screens up at the same time and freeze in camera mode for no apparent reason. When this happens, i have to take the battery out and put it back in. One day i had to do it 3 times. Because its on high demand, i hope taking out and putting the battery back in works for a while, until i can go into the store and get a replacement and not wait months for one to come. other than that, its amazing and i feel its better than the i phone!

The storm is a serious disapointment, have had it for a month and really tried but .. slow .. keeps needing recharging.. poor sound quality and using as a phone is like being back in the early 90's ... camera takes ages so if it's a spur of the moment snap your after, forget it. email fine,touch screen great, using the browser is painful. Of the 4 other friends that got them in the first release - 3 have been returned. Would very much doubt anyone that give this a 5 star review!!

I can't deal with this phone anymore. I have upgraded it, exchanged it twice for a new one, and done everything I need to do to improve its performance, yet it still gives me such a hard time. It lags like and old computer, with the firmware updates it STILL crashes and takes 3-5 minutes to reboot. The camera takes an extremely long time to take pictures, using some of the features is a drag (browser for example). I just can't think of a better way to vent my anger over this phone than writing a review for it. I waited in line to get this phone on day one, and have had nothing but disappointment since.
I have to say one of the most frustrating problems is in BBM or SMS texting, occasionally I'll hover my finger on a key for too long, and the camera application will come up randomly, either in the form of the entire screen, or just a small square on the screen. In both of these situations, one may not press end, or clear to get out of it. I've found that the only way is by pressing send to get to the dial page to override it. Its the epitome of frustrating, and I plan on replacing this phone very soon.

I had this phone all of 2 days it is worthless, I returned it for my money back and went straight to apple to get the iphone what a big difference, the storm lags like no other the double clicking is really annoying and the getting to your emails and text is just a headache. I no have the iphone and i will never get a black berry again waste of money

This is my first blackberry and my first touch screen phone and I LOVE IT!!! Like any new technology it takes some getting used to but after a day or two of CONSTANTLY playing with it...I was in love!!!!!!! Of course I do agree from time to time it lags when switching views but Maybe because I waited a few months to get mine I have had fewer problems than some of the reviewers I have seen. Although it is not a perfect device, paired with the awesome verizon coverage this phone is a winner!

Actually I like my Storm much better now that I smashed it against the dashboard and I finally succeeded in breaking it beyond repair. I have had it for about 5 months and I paid plenty for it. That said, the satisfaction of smashing it made it all worthwhile. For starters, the interface has a response and feel I can only describe as wading through an 18" deep lake of frozen molasses. Want to play games on it? Foggetaboudit. Sound is weak and scratchy. Voice recognition is poor. It's chunky and heavy. All that aside, that isn't the major problem. Shortly after I got it , it sharted rebooting multiple times per day (like 10). Bad enough, but on top of that, it takes 5-10 minutes to recycle. 10 hours of tech support (really!) with Verizon improved it to about 2 reboots every 3 days. Unfortunately, over time, it became worse again - much worse - finally rebooting every time someone tried to call: i ring - 1 vibration - reboot. Oh yeah - and it didn't save the number either so I had no idea who called. After it did this to me about 15 times in a row over a period of 3 days or so, it hit the dashboard. FYI Verizon AND Blackberry customer service was abysmal. This happened 2 days ago (4/14/09). I bought an iPhone. It's killer. I love it. For the record, I've been using cell phones since they weight pounds, came in bags, and air time was $2 a minute. I wasn't born yesterday and haven't smashed anything since I pounded a keyboard when the PC ate my spreadsheet and cost me 4 hours of work - I think that was back in '87.

As of this writing, Blackberry has yet to upgrade the operating system and it is 100% a Blackberry problem. These are no way ready for prime time and should never have been rushed to the market.

If you're a masochist and like being tortured, this is definitely the phone for you.

Else, if you really want a useful, elegant, stable, and smooth as silk touchpad phone, then do what i did, suck it up and buy an iPhone.

Consider yourself warned.

I have used BB since they first came out. I love them. However - I can say to you - as a Storm owner - that it is without a doubt - the biggest rip-off I have ever been subjected to. The technology is NOT there - they are trying to be an i-phone. DO NOT buy one. You will regret it (I know I do - and I am stuck with it now.)
I have no hidden agendas here. I searched for a site to post this opinion because I am fed up.