BlackBerry Storm2 for Enterprise Use Review

By Craig Johnston on 30 Nov 2009 10:58 am EST
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Storm2

The BlackBerry Storm 2 has arrived to try and save the BlackBerry touch screen reputation after a pretty disastrous Storm 1 entrance last year. I used a Storm 1 and can safely say that while I'm a huge fan of Research In Motion 's (RIM) BlackBerry products (I've been a user since 2000), I was excited to see how RIM would jump into the touch screen Smartphone ring, and then immediately disappointed at the product I was holding in my hands.

It was laggy, buggy, kludgy, and the whole having to click the screen paradigm combined to make me feel like hurling it at the wall many times.

The BlackBerry Storm 2 is much better in many ways. It doesn't lag, it has fewer bugs, and typing doesn't feel as kludgly as before. You still have to click the screen, but even that has improved drastically.

So the question is, can this new improved touch screen BlackBerry survive in the corporate world? Can it handle the day-to-day work use and even enhance your existing BlackBerry experience? Finally, does it look professional enough to carry into the boardroom or courtroom?

While the Storm 2 has many consumer features, I won't go into those in great detail because there are other reviews that do this. I'll be concentrating on the enterprise usage, which of course does include some consumer use.

The Look

The Storm 2 looks very classy. I think it goes very well with a suit and tie, but can also hang out with you on the weekends. The single piece glass screen that includes the Call, Menu, Escape, and End buttons looks up market and conveys a professional feel. The gap between the screen and the rest of the BlackBerry is tiny and adds to the high-end finish of the Storm 2. Even the back of the Storm 2 looks good with its real brushed aluminum battery cover and clasp-less mechanism.

Battery Life

A Smartphone worth its salt needs to hold a charge allowing the business person to go about their normal day of conference calls, emails, attachment viewing and editing, and a little music on the side.

Going just by RIM's numbers, the Storm 2 has slightly less talk time and standby time than the Storm 1. It's really only 30 to 60 minutes less depending on the network (CDMA or GSM) you are on. While it is down slightly, the Storm 2 should get you through at least 1 day with medium use. Browsing through the CrackBerry forums seems to back that up with most people getting at least 1 full day of usage, sometimes 2.

Web Browsing

The BlackBerry web browsing experience is far from satisfying. It still takes way too long to load up web pages and execute JavaScript. If you are new to BlackBerry you will find this tough to deal with. Web browsers on the Palm Pre, Motorola Droid, and iPhone 3GS all provide an outstanding desktop browsing experience on a Smartphone. The BlackBerry browser is showing its age. Its creaking and groaning under the strain of what RIM is asking it to do. Yes it renders full desktop web pages, but it takes so long to do it.

If you are a seasoned BlackBerry user then you will actually see a benefit to browsing on the Storm 2. The screen is 25% larger than other BlackBerry's like the Bold 9700 or Tour, and while the screen resolution is the same, the physical area is larger. This extra area provides a more comfortable browsing experience.

CNN.com
CNN.com Storm2
CNN.com
CNN.com Bold 9700

The Storm 2 does have flick scrolling so you can actually flick the screen up and down to quickly get around a web page. No gestures like pinching and expanding your fingers to zoom in and out, but clicking the zoom button does provide a snappy zoom.

Compared to other latest-generation Smartphones, the browsing on a BlackBerry Storm 2 (and indeed all BlackBerrys) is poor, but if you already have a BlackBerry, you'll feel right at home and see the benefit of touch and a 25% larger screen. RIM announced that a WebKit browser is coming soon, so things should improve greatly for the BlackBerry web browsing experience soon.

Document Viewing and Editing

Since BlackBerry OS 4.5, we have had document editing, and document viewing has been around for longer than many can remember. The Storm 2 with its 25% larger screen provides you with what you'd expect when viewing a document, more of it on the screen at once. This is exactly what you get.

Word Doc Storm
Word Document - Storm2
Word Doc 9700
Word Document - Bold 9700

As you can see from the screen shots, the font size looks the same on the Bold 9700 and the Storm 2. This is because the viewer on the Storm 2 is actually decreasing the font size to fit more in on the screen. Since the screen is physically larger, decreasing the font size makes the text appear to have the same physical size as on the Bold 9700, while retaining its clarity, and increasing on-screen word count.

Document editing though seems to have an issue. DataViz's DocumentsToGo provides the document editing for the BlackBerry and does a pretty good job of it. You would think that editing a document on the Storm 2 with its larger screen in landscape mode would provide a benefit over other BlackBerry models. Sadly it does not.

It seems that a design flaw or bug in DocumentsToGo renders documents in portrait mode, even when you rotate the Storm 2 to landscape mode.

Word Doc Storm2
Word Document - Storm2
Word Document - Bold 9700
Word Document - Bold 9700

In this screen shot, the Storm 2 is in landscape mode because you can see the document title span the entire screen, however the document is caged into what appears to be the portrait view. The end result is the Storm 2 fitting slightly less text in compared to a Bold 9700.

It's not all bad though. The text is larger, making it easier to read, and the snappier CPU on the Storm 2 makes editing a pleasure. As with other BlackBerrys, you get limited document editing with the included version of DocumentsToGo, and many more when you pay to upgrade to the premium version.

Word Document Storm

Email and Calendar

While available on other BlackBerrys running OS 5.0 or later, features like the ability to flag a message for follow-up, remote searching your corporate mailbox, and the ability to see meeting attendee's free/busy is a huge help for the professional on the road.

Flag Message

The big benefit with the Storm 2 is the larger screen. In landscape or portrait mode, you can decrease the font size without compromising text clarity, allowing you fit more on the screen.

Email Regular Font
Email - Regular Font
Email - Small Font
Email - Small Font

Typing and Navigating

I really had a hard time typing on the Storm 1. It felt like the screen was trying to bounce your thumbs away. Typing in general on the Storm 1 was just too difficult.

The Storm 2 has addressed this issue. The SurePress screen is now friendlier to our thumbs. The clicking is softer and more refined. You don't feel like the screen wants to repel your thumbs, which allows for a faster and more pleasant typing experience. In fact, I can now type faster on the Storm 2 with fewer errors thanks to the redesign.

If you are a BlackBerry user ready to experience the best BlackBerry touch screen Smartphone, the Storm 2 is for you. It really has addressed the SurePress issues that plagued the Storm1. If you are new to BlackBerry and think that you want another touch screen Smartphone, you may be frustrated.

All other capacitive touch screens like the Palm Pre, Motorola Droid, and iPhone 3GS, are touch all the way. You type on the virtual keyboard by touch, you navigate by touch. On the Storm 2, you must click a key to type it, or click a menu item to select it. This can frustrate you since it seems counter intuitive. Why must you click the screen when you can just touch it?

Navigating can be confusing too. Instead of there being an on-screen menu button, you must click the physical menu button. Again, counter-intuitive.

Conclusion

Without question, this is the best touch screen BlackBerry. RIM has fixed so many issues. It has added Wi-Fi, made SurePress more effective, removed the lag, and tweaked the styling.

As a professional:

  • You can now use the Storm 2 to effectively to write emails - long or short.
  • The battery will keep you going for at least a full business day.
  • You can travel to any country thanks to the on-board CDMA and GSM/UMTS radios. 
  • You can have simultaneous voice and data thanks to built-in Wi-Fi. 
  • You can take impressive pictures with the 3.2 Megapixel autofocus camera.
  • You can watch videos on the impressive landscape screen, and listen to your favorite music while in transit.
  • Your data can be safe thanks to BlackBerry's impressive IT Policies that can control and secure corporate BlackBerrys.

The BlackBerry OS really does need an overhaul to modernize it, and the requirement to click the screen seems unnecessary, but as Smartphones go, if you are a professional who needs the best business Smartphone with a touch screen, the BlackBerry Storm 2 is the device for you. And if you're looking for the latest and greatest BlackBerry Smartphone without a touchscreen for enterprise use, be sure to check out the BlackBerry Bold 9700. I reviewed it from a Business-user perspective here.  


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Topics: Device Reviews

44 comments

Detective M Downs

I work on Wall Street and, I have no problems with my S2 re:looks, performance and etc.

dtlorman

I agree 100% with this review. I considered the Storm1 before buying the Tour in July. After buying the Storm2, I kept my Tour just in case I found the experience frustrating with the touch screen, etc. Recently, I was using my wife's Tour, and I can say with absolute certainly, I would NEVER go back. The screen on the Storm2 is terrific, the surepress interface works very well, AND the Wi-Fi is an excellent addition.

hmorgan25

With the new OS update for S1 and S2, the S1 seems to be just fine. 90% of the positives in this article apply to S1. Only major differences are maybe lag because of the extra 128MB of RAM (but a battery pull solves that), and WiFi and SurePres improvement.

The look is almost identical, no? my question is, when is the S3 coming out that will have more RAM for apps and no clicking? or will an OS update remove the clicking needed for at least the S2?

DeanAmmons

The "major differences" you listed were precisely the reason I upgraded to the Storm2, along with the Verizon upgrade offer. I really liked the original Storm, but the Storm2 provides a much more pleasant smart phone experience.

Attiqmalik

Voice is lost while call is connected on Storm2 9550. What's the use of this "smartphone" which cannot make simple calls :(

Craig Johnston

Sounds like a one-off. Never happened to me ...

jorGeorge

It sounds like you are FORCED into using this device is you want both a BlackBerry and touch-screen device. That's not how it should be...

"...but as Smartphones go, if you are a professional who needs the best business Smartphone with a touch screen, the BlackBerry Storm 2 is the ONLY device for you"

Craig Johnston

What I was trying to say was that out of all the touch screen smartphones on the market, if you need to use it in a business environment, the Storm 2 is the best of the bunch.

mhyhmc

I dont really understand why it's so difficult to comprehend that the purpose of screen-clicking is to alleviate the problem of unintentionally selecting an item(something that happens numerous times on most touchscreens). I actually think that its a brilliant concept that works.

LoSt180

I completely agree. I've become so accustomed to the screen click that I get frustrated when using a device that DOESN'T click! Navigation/scrolling on the screen is such a pain since those devices constantly select items when I just wanted to scroll past.

mikeyman

I find the click through to be a huge plus. The virtual keyboard on the droid constantly mistook my thumb on the B or N to be a space. None of my messages made any sense. Loving the surepress.

Craig Johnston

It definitely is user preference. I just think its unnecessary based on my usage of other touch screen smartphones.
Based on my experience with them, I don't tend to unintentionally select something, but thats just me :-)

kinggeoff

I would NOT buy it. Simple as that. The click is one of the strongest features for me. I love that physical reinforcement.

It means that while in dialpad, I'm actually PUSHING the numbers rather than tapping on them and hoping for the best. It means that while browsing (albeit slowly on the native browser) I click on links with a click, rather than double or triple tapping on a screen hoping I got the right link. Highlight THEN click to execute. That's how a touch screen should be.

All other touch screens feel COMPLETELY disconnected souring me on the experience of touch outside of the storm.

R1cE

I don't get why he has an issue with the screen. That's what sets the storm 2 apart from the other touchscreen phones out there, and personally I love inputting data on it.

vlkers7171

Ive used many smart phones out there. Winmo, iphone, android, etc...and I can say while the web browsing is super slow on this phone (which it is)...I prefer typing on this phone better than any other. The droid is fast as hell, but I hate the typing. If I hate the typing on a phone, I'm not going to want to use it as a daily driver. I could see my self using the droid or iphone on occasion, but the Storm2 is really what I prefer as my daily driver and using it for its sync-ability, push email and voice quality (and not dropping calls)

Stephen Smith

Craig said, "...and the whole having to click the screen paradigm combined to make me feel like hurling it at the wall many times"

That's like buying a slider phone and saying "that whole slider thing made me want to hurl it at the wall."

You don't *have to* click the screen. If you hate that input format, get a phone with the format you do like.

Obviously this is a user preference issue. After owning a boatload of phones and PDAs (way back to the Apple Newton 110) and experiencing the problems of mini-keyboards and standard touch screens, I ended up prefering the click screen. Even on the Storm 1.

Craig Johnston

My preference is the Bold 9700 with a physical keyboard. I review all kinds of phones so that was my experience when I was testing the Storm 1 at the time :-)

kinggeoff

Prefer the click, even on the storm1. It's the reason for the phone. It was the leading feature that some people "tried to get around" even though they didn't prefer it. If you are looking for a touch screen with physical feedback, the storm is the only way to go.

jerseyred

I don't think the phrase "best touch screen BlackBerry" should be used...considering there are only two of them...and they are both (for the most part) the same phone. Of course the newer Storm2 is better than the first one...It's like saying "This is the best touchscreen iPhone ever" Duh, it's newer and you have no other option. Saying the 9700 is the best qwerty BlackBerry is different (and true).

I think the only way in which a business user would prefer the Storm2 is for the touchscreen or a larger screen. That's about it. I would rank it behind both Bolds, and the Tour for enterprise usage.

Craig Johnston

You're right. It can only be compared with the Storm 1 :-)

Like you, I prefer the Bold 9700, but I am really impressed with the Storm 2 though.

jeffmeden

"Without question, this is the best touch screen BlackBerry"

This is mentioned twice in the review... which touch screen enabled blackberries that are currently selling is this in contrast to? I am confused. This really reads like a Storm 1 review ("I don't like clicking" and "the browser is slow" should ring a bell). Aside from a "better click" and WiFi, how is the Storm 2 demonstrably different from the Storm 1 (in a business sense, as this review was apparently aimed)? Maybe the million or so Storm 1 owners (I am among them, yes) would then be able to glean something useful from this.

Also, did you know there is a mobile version of CNN.com (shown automatically in the bb browser) that loads in about 6 seconds? Changing the browser setting to get the full version to load takes about 15 seconds before a navigable page is ready (not including the time to change the setting).

asmallchild

The Storm 1 was my first smartphone so I was both impressed and annoyed at what it offered.

Having done a bit more market research, I can certainly say BlackBerry is still the king of the email world but its a dated platform.

I'm definitely jumping to the Droid at the next chance I get and ultimately still envision landing on an Apple product assuming it's offered on Verizon eventually.

Craig Johnston

I used both the Storm 1 and 2, and from a business perspective, the Storm 1 was not a good business Smartphone, mainly because of its typing issues.

The Storm 2 has a much better implementation of SurePress so now, from a business perspective, it is now usable. You can now actually pound out emails quickly and accurately.

Add the simultaneous voice and data brought about by adding Wi-Fi, and it gets even better.

I don't know of many business users who have stuck out the Storm 1, but I can see many of them liking the Storm 2.

As for mobile browsing. Yup I did know that ;-) I've been a BlackBerry user since the RIM 850. I think if you want to show the browser, you need to make it show the real web page, not the mobile one. Smartphones in 2009 should be able to handle the real web, not cop out on the mobile pages.

kinggeoff

learning the system. I actually find the screen on the s1 easier to press and thus, for me, even faster to type on than the s2. It's just a matter of typing accurately and adjusting your timing to what suits the s1 best. You can hammer out text quite quickly with the s1 or s2 if you take the time to learn the skills. We were all bad at typing even on a full desktop keyboard once upon a time. Full physical qwerty will always be faster by nature, but the s1 is no slouch if you take the time to learn the system

stevy33

I have been to the Blackberry website and have searched for ways to just leave comments/opinions on the device and have been unsuccessful in finding a way to leave a comment. DOES ANYONE know how to contact them?

dgburns

Try bbsuggestions at rim dot com but chances of you ever hearing back from your comments are slim to none.

DeeBee85

Nice review. I have the same positives and negatives with this bb that you've covered. In general, the most negative things are universal to all blackberry smartphones, and not just the storm2 (or either storm). I use mine on a corporate BES and its great. I have no issues typing out quick emails. I'm very satisfied...now RIM, get us some decent web browsing (and that openGL would be nice too).

drawl66

I love the click screen on my Storm1. In no way does it force my fingers off the device and inhibit fast text entry. I have seen so many wrong selections on the other touchscreens.

dland69

I had 5 Storms in 12 months and finally gave up, but it was the click screen that kept me coming back, so I find it weird that the reviewer points that out as an issue. I did switch to the Droid last week and have to say that unless Rim makes some very aggressive changes, the Storm line will have some real challenges competing against more dependable devices.

tommylouvon

I had the Storm, Storm2, and now a Tour. I would have kept the Storm2 if only it had an option for click or touch only. When I am in meetings trying to secretly do my emails I would prefer to type in "Stealth Mode" and the clicking noise was way too loud for a quiet room full of people.

My dream Blackberry would be to have the Storm2's chassis with a track pad and the option for click or touch only....

03CrewSC

I have a Storm 1 and have used it on a BES since day 1. I beleive it is a very professional looking device. Does it have to have a keyboard on the bottom to be taken seriously? I will probably upgrade to a S2 in the future just because of the additional memory and WiFi.

br14

"Why must you click the screen when you can just touch it?"

I'm with all the others that like the click. If you've ever watched anyone trying to type accurately on an iPhone you can see why. The click ensures more accurate typing.

I can type faster on my Storm 1 than I can on my 8820 I guess because my fingers are too big for the keys.

The original Storm 1 software was poor but the first upgrade took care of most of the issues.

I will be buying a Storm 2.

"the clicking noise was way too loud for a quiet room full of people"

Don't have a Storm 2 but isn't there a key tone option button any more?

"The BlackBerry OS really does need an overhaul to modernize it"

I never understand when people say this. Do you mean the look and feel isn't good enough? The basic OS in my opinion is actually rather good. And far more secure than anything else available on the consumer market (important when you do online banking for example).

mjlnyc

I would really like to know since I do a lot of "stealth" emailing during meetings, and an inability to do this without clicking sounds is really important to me.

petaf

I thought wi-fi on the Storms was only for data (Verizon). Since I had a huge problem with dropped calls on Storm1 I would definitely upgrade to Storm2 if wi-fi was voice also. I was told no, however. Could someone confirm? Thanx.

dgburns

NO VOICE OVER WIFI.
I think what the comment about "simultaneous" was implying was that you could be on a cellular phone call and still have active data service over WiFi. I don't know if that's true or not?

slimjim987

Verizon wouldn't allow voice to go over wifi because wifi deals with the public internet which isn't as secure as Verizons network. Plus the internet may not be as reliable as you'd like for Qos (Quality of Service) which deals with packet loss, jitter and latency. Anotherwards Wifi is unreliable for voice transfer and verizon doesnt want to be responsible for irriated users.

dgburns

"Without question, this is the best touch screen BlackBerry"
Well now gee, THAT'S a bold statement! :) "Best" out of two isn't much of a competition especially considering Storm1 is phasing out for Storm2.

tmountjr

Sorry, I don't buy it. The keyboard on the Storm 2 for me is worse than the Storm 1. I feel like I have to mash the screen on the 2 for it to register any keystrokes, and this is my impression after setting up three different devices. I will grant it's not as laggy and the screen orientation change is much more fluid, but the touchscreen is still horrible, as bad as, if not worse than, the original Storm.

Every single user in my organization that went from an 8830 to a StormX and who composed emails regularly on their 8830 lasted about 72 hours max with the StormX before switching back to the 8830 or swapping out to a Tour. Every single one of those users have publicly vowed never to go near a Storm again. Aside from the keyboard it's not a bad device, but I wish there was a way to turn off the dang click and treat it more like a real touchscreen. I can compose emails on my personal iPhone just as fast as I can on my corporate 8830 or a Tour, and after using a few HTC touchscreens for a few minutes I think my experience would be similar, but it takes 4x longer to do the same thing on a StormX.

pinstripes77

I have had my S2 for about 2 weeks now and twice it has told me "cannot connect call in progress". The only way I can get the device to 'dial out' is to take the battery out. Being a RIM user for years and used to the re-loading of the device after a battery removal, its not that bad but wondering if anyone has a suggestion for me to try?

ptsurf11

Check out http://oneweb.net. It speeds up BlackBerry browsing and has cool Facebook and Twitter widgets.

keyguy242

I've had this phone for about a week. This thing has so many glitches its ridiculous. I cannot delete a picture I sent in BBM. My brower constantly freezes. I've had it one week and ive had to do a battery pull 3 times already. Its a piece! The smart type messenger constantly gets words wrong and scrolling on the screen to get the right word hurts my back with frustration. I'm not even kidding i feel like smashing this stupid thing with a hammer.

slimjim987

I want to know how the difference between the S1 w/ the new 5.0 (Not the 4.7) update and how it compares to the S2. Besides the WiFi, does the S2 have a faster browser for the internet(or is this a speed issue with Verizon) and does it have more app space? Or anything else i havent mentioned!

rdsookey

i just got a 9700 last week and its ok...i had an 8120 pearl for over a year..yes, with wifi and 3G..i,m gonna get the 9100 pearl the day it comes out cuz i hate the keys on the bold...way too close together..cant believe some guy paid $700.00 for one..i'll be selling mine for best offer once i get my new pearl...anyone got a release date on that yet or what??

helidriver

I recently had my S1 software upgraded to the S2, massive improvement. Much faster all round usage especially load time of apps. Better features like flick scrolling, options in calendar, and many others. Was disappointed with my S1 but since the upgrade it is a completely new phone, very impressed and I just love it. Recommend anyone that has a S1 to see your local dealer and get them to upgrade the software for you.