Review: Viper SmartStart Application for BlackBerry Smartphones

By David Boyd on 13 Apr 2010 03:24 pm EDT

We first told you about Viper SmartStart back in January at CES, and then just last month, the BlackBerry application was released for download. Well this month, I'm going to take it one step further and give you a review of the BlackBerry SmartStart App, and how it works with the Viper alarm system in general.

The good people at Directed Electronics were nice enough to supply me with a Viper SmartStart alarm system to review. The alarm itself has to be professionally installed, and this was easily done by a local authorized Viper installer. I took my vehicle in around 8:30am, and I was called by 2pm that it was ready. It takes most of the day to have the system installed, so if you're planning on getting one, prepare to be without your car for most of the day. Once my system was installed, the installer gave me a demo of the system, and helped me set up my account and activate the SmartStart App on my BlackBerry Bold 9700.

The SmartStart App is basic and simple, but does exactly what it needs to do. Once the app is launched, the user is presented with options, to lock, unlock, trunk release, panic button, and of course SmartStart. These are the same functions present in the included key fob remotes.

SmartStart App

In order for the SmartStart App to work, two things must be present; your BlackBerry must have cellular and/or Wi-Fi service, and your vehicle must be in a location where it has a cellular signal as well, specifically it runs on the AT&T network. As long as both conditions have been met, you can use your BlackBerry to control the alarm functions and remote starting of your vehicle from anywhere in the world. Now will you really have a need to remote start your vehicle from across the world? Probably not, but being able to remote start from within a shopping mall would be a nice feature. I live in Texas and our summers are quite warm. The luxury of having a remote start to cool down my vehicle before I get in is absolutely fantastic.

Many of you are probably worried about the security of your vehicle at this point. Let me help put your mind at ease. The Viper SmartStart system will allow your vehicle's engine to run for 20 minutes only before it will shut down if you have not entered the vehicle and placed the key in the ignition. If anyone were to enter your vehicle when you had it remote started, the alarm of course would activate, but not only that, as soon as the person attempts to shift your vehicle into gear, the engine will die. There must be a key in the ignition before someone steps on the brake pedal or the engine will die.

What about if you were to lose your BlackBerry? Does that mean someone will be able to steal your vehicle now that they have access to your SmartStart App? No, they may be able to gain entry to your vehicle if they can find it in the first place, and know about the SmartStart App, but they still would need the ignition key before they can take it anywhere. Having the SmartStart App is no more risky than carrying around a key fob for your vehicle.

I talked a little earlier about the alarm going off if someone were to mess with your vehicle, or attempt to steal it. Wouldn't it be nice to know when something like that was happening? It just so happens that the SmartStart App will also send alerts to your BlackBerry whenever there is an alarm activation. Now isn't that fancy?!?

How many of you are wanting to get this now? Well here comes the catch... the price tag. If you don't already have a compatible Viper secuirty system, you'll need to get a full install. The price ranges, but plan on spending at least $500 to purchase the system, and then you'll possibly have install fees on top of that. Once you have a system installed, there is a $29.99 annual fee for the vehicles cellular system, but the good news is that the first years fee is covered. If you did purchase a system, and then decided to stop paying the annual fee, you're system will still work with the included key fobs, and they have a surprising one-mile range.

Overall I am very impressed with the Viper SmartStart system, but also recognize that this system isn't for everyone. Obviously the cost of the system will be the biggest factor in most people's buying decision, but if you're a big tech geek like me, this will definitely be on your radar to purchase. The Viper SmartStart App is available for download for almost every current model BlackBerry device except the Pearl. Sorry Pearl users. Currently the Viper SmartStart system is only available in the United States, but according to the Viper SmartStart Twitter feed, our Canadian friends can expect some love in May.

Anyone else using this system? Let us know in the comments.

Reader comments

Review: Viper SmartStart Application for BlackBerry Smartphones


Yeah I know it's filthy. There was a 40% chance of rain when I filmed this, thus why I didn't wash it, and why it was shot in the garage.

So what about all those basements that even phones don't work in? I hope Viper knows that not all cars are parked in open fields in front of Walmart.

That's why you still have the key fob remote included with your alarm system. The system I'm using has a one-mile range for the key fob.

That's a pretty neat application. That'll be cool if it could also send you a GPS coordinate of where your car is in case you can't find it or it's stolen.

That's a terrible idea. If someone got a hold of your phone they could then locate your car and gain access to everything in it.

yea, but if your crackberry is password protected, they wouldn't be able to gain access to your car. your bb will erase its self after so many tries. PLus if u have Where's my phone, You can erase your phone remotely. Just FYI

Ive had this for about a month or 2 and it is great.
About a month ago I had a new exhaust installed on my car but I would be at work before the shop opened. Instead, I dropped my car off in front of the shop parked with the keys inside. I had the shop owner (also a friend) call me when he opened shop and I unlocked the doors so he can install my exhaust.
There are plenty of times I have used this where my remote wont work such as leaving a mall or a restaurant when your car is parked far.
All in all a lil pricey, but I love it.

I already have a remote start on my car by the Viper company but it's a Hornet brand. Do I need to get this exact model for the phone app to work?

David, I hope Crackberry reimbursed you for that install... cause, no one's going to steal a Buick. :)

I have this system on my vehicle and it works great but doesn't send alerts to my storm. Disappointing considering the cost....I also hate the fact it uses AT&T s towers. I'm afraid that means it won't have service most of the time!

This might be a newbie question, but I really like the theme that is shown here... Mind spilling the beans on where you got it and what it is called? Thanks!

I'm all for coolness and all - but - isn't this really an example of a solution in search of a problem? Let me make my case:

1. Who doesn't carry their keys (and associated remote) with them anyway, all the time, when using a car?
2. Seems like this app has some lag time to it, when it sends the BT command to the unit in the car. That lag would make me (ok my wife really) crazy.
3. I mean let's look at the specific use case, to open your car doors:
a. You're walking up to the car.
b. You know you're going to need your keys (unless you plan to START the car with the app, which I wonder as to the safety aspect of that)
c. So you have your keys, maybe, but then you also need to dig out/whip out your BB.
d. You then have to unlock the BB, open the app, scroll to unlock, send the command, etc etc...

See what I mean - man just use the remote that you already have!

Again, I'm a HUGE device user and use it for almost everythng I do, but this one.... not so sure. I don't want to rain on David's parade (nice review, btw) but hmmmm....

I use my key fob when I'm at my vehicle, it is faster. But when the key fob is out of reach of the vehicle U R suppose to get alerts on ur berry when someone is messing with ur ride. Also 1 mile range isn't much when ur 20 minutes away and U want to start ur car to warm up. My girlfriend took my vehicle to another state for an appnt. And locked the keys in the truck. She called me Panicking, all I had to do was unlock it from my storm 300 miles away! pretty handy.

A lot of you have commented on how it's a pretty expensive way to open your doors, pop your trunk etc. I would for the most part agree with you on this. However the most valuable part of this device is being able to start your car.

I live in North Dakota. Now I realize most of you have never heard of the state but it is cold here in the winters...I am talking -40 below. The summers get to be 90 on a pretty consistent basis.

I have sold and installed (including DEI) remote starters and alarms for years. The first and only thing people care about up here is the range of the remote starter. A good one will get you up to a mile of range but is greatly reduced by obstructions like vehicles, brick walls, building etc. When you are at a hockey game for instance and your car is parked a great distance away. Nothing is better then knowing your car will and has started when it's -20 out and blowing snow. People in climates like this would more then likely pay twice as much money as what this new device is going for to have that sort of range and confirmation it's started.

Again, I realize most of you live where it's warm and for that I am extremely jealous. But for those of us that live in cold winter climates....this unit is absolutely priceless!!!

/end rant

I live in North Dakota and have to agree with Firedancer1189. I know people here who would easily pay double for this system. Too cold in the winters, leather seats too hot in the summers - can't be pleased. Buy something to make it (somewhat) more bearable!

Think I'd rather have a basic alarm keypad.
The app was kind of slow in my opinion when he locked and unlocked the doors.

That is actually fairly respectable time. Most of the two-way ones (LCD screens that confirm if it started,locked, etc) take about that long. You have to realize it's a signal being sent to a tower which is then sent to your vehicle which is then sent back to the tower then you.

I have had Viper remote starts on several different cars for years, but this is definitely one that I will consider next time!!!

If you think this is cool and you really really want one but would like something better like being able to have your car start, unlock the doors, roll down the windows too and be accessible from anywhere in the world for about the same price then look at -

Directed Electronics is awful for trying to force you to go to an authorized retailer for installations.

As if the guy at best buy (no offense to best buy guys) knows how to crimp a wire better than I do.

I ordered a viper 5901 from amazon and found out when I tried calling DE that they will not support you on your own install (even with a basic question like what does this code mean).

Needless to say I figured it out and it is working perfectly.

I refuse to pay to have this installed out of principle.

This is the thing I *LOVE* about the internet. I tried to get some configuration information out of the installers and was told that I am allowed to know that, but bring my vehicle in and they'd be glad to make the changes for me. Instead, I googled "5901 install guide", and POOF! There is the PDF that the installers use to install and configure the system. Now I don't have to worry about what they might charge to make a simple change.

That's pretty stupid. I don't understand why do you need a phone to start your car....

A key /button would do fine. Why do I need to start a car 10 feet away? I still need to drive it...if it drives itself, THEN we can talk. But it's pretty much a useless thing that people get just to seem cool. And the feature lags a bit too. Dumb idea.

Unless anyone can tell me what possibly this can be of use, I am not impressed.

I know a good answer to that, at least in regards to the 5901. The main key fob now comes with a non-removable, rechargeable battery.

The cost of a new key fob? The same price as the ipod/blackberry module. In my experience (and I'm kinda rough with keys) key fob's usually last me 3 or 4 years (probably less with they expendable battery).

So in this case, instead of buying a 2nd two way key fob for my wife, I purchased the module. Now, if something happens to the key fob, battery dies, or the keys fall in the lake, I have a backup way of getting into my vehicle.

Also, I live in Texas. It is nice to be able to start the vehicle when the weather is 105F outside while Im leaving the office/mall/or someplace where the 2 way remote is out of range and able to climb into a A/C cooled vehicle.

@aznhomieboi, obviously you either don't live where it gets excruciatingly cold in the wintertime, park your car indoors, or have never had your car broken into. As someone who does, and has, I can totally see myself getting one of these.

My car was broken into while I was at work on midnights at a college. Stereo was almost ripped out, lock was busted...I would have liked to know when someone was dicking around with my ride, then I can go and show them what 'protection of property' means, little bastards. In the aftermath, the insurance company didn't cover my lost books and broken lock and busted radio because the books weren't related to the car, and the cost to fix the other things were less than my deductible. GREAT! They're still broken/gone...I hear the alarm on this thing is loud, like...REALLY loud, so even if you're on your way out there, they probably don't want to stick around and risk going deaf for your stereo. And if people are around, they will probably be caught.

As for the remote start, I live in Canada. It's cold here. The keyfobs won't go through building walls, but cellular signals do. If I'm parked in the garage next door, or out at the far lot, I can start the car. From class, or my office desk, so long as I have cellular signal. Really helps with those days/nights when it snows and your car is encased in ice, or generally is tempermental on cold mornings.

But then again, this isn't a product for everyone. I guess I should have asked it you even have a car first...Hope I answered your question.

First of all it runs for 12 minutes (might be u can set the idling)

2nd; y isn't my alerts working on my 9630? Is it supposed to be pushed to my bb?

id like to explain to everyone who doesnt quite understand.

i got this installed the day the BB app came out.

it is not intended to be used when you are 10 feet away from your car. you get a key fob for that. it is intended to be used when you are out of key fob range, say inside a building or miles away from you car. the basic system comes with the viper 5101 which DOES NOT have an alarm. it costs $500 at best buy, install included. you can add the "smart start module" to other viper systems that DO HAVE an alarm for around $250. This needs to be professionally installed. I hated letting someone else splice wires on my 50K dollar truck, but viper will not activate the service if you dont get it professionally installed. Best Buy did a horrible job and I ended up redoing all of the wiring. (they didnt even secure the brain module in place, it was just hanging by the wires and used more 3M splice connectors than my local hardware store has on stock). The crappy install was/is not vipers fault though. It works by cell signal not bluetooth and functions any where in the world. I unlocked my doors when i was in china and my GF had my truck in PA. It will not work if you park underground or in a paking garage. basically if you see your phone doesnt have signal where you parked your car then your S.O.L.

You will get a command confirmation on your BB when the vehicle performs whatever operation you told it to. You still get all the usual remote start customizable features like run time, valet mode, turbo timer, cabin temperature starting (starts your car if the interior temp gets to high/cold), climate control, etc.

check out for the features of the 5101 and you will see what the $500 systems offers.

My wife works at a large hospital - if she started her car when she left her department, the car would be warmed up, or cooled off by the time she got to it.

If she used a standard remote start, she would have the car running about 60 seconds before she got to it and it would still be whatever the ambient temperature is, providing no use whatsoever.

AutoPage has had this for a while longer than viper has, why is it barely surfacing now just because viper did it? The Autopage C3 system is better IMO, and its been around since '08, and i've had it since beginning of '09 (when they built the blackberry app i believe...). And to go off topic for a second, Autopage was the first of the two to come out with the OLED 2-way remote also... just saying...

I just skimmed through the messages and, frankly, I'm kind of surprised that no one mentioned that device skin. Seriously, I'm not trying to be a troll or rude, but that was a shockingly ugly skin. Maybe it was explained in the video (I smashed my speakers -- long story) but I don't know, the purchase of that 9700 skin is far more baffling to me than the purchase of this car starting application. Holy cow, that was one ugly bitch. It sort of looks like a 1970's mop top complete with big sideburns.

I go and get this installed in my truck yesterday and the part for starting and stopping the engine, as well as locking and unlocking the doors work great. But when I opened the truck with the alarm set, I didn't get any response on the app. I emailed them and was told to go back to the installers to make a change to the settings. Nothing we changee worked. He called in to their support and was eventually that will work, but not now. It only does that on the iPhone. He told us that BlackBerry was their next high priority and took people off the Droid app until this was completed. This is what I was told, so take it for what it's worth.

I go and get this installed in my truck yesterday and the part for starting and stopping the engine, as well as locking and unlocking the doors work great. But when I opened the truck with the alarm set, I didn't get any response on the app. I emailed them and was told to go back to the installers to make a change to the settings. Nothing we changee worked. He called in to their support and was eventually that will work, but not now. It only does that on the iPhone. He told us that BlackBerry was their next high priority and took people off the Droid app until this was completed. This is what I was told, so take it for what it's worth.

Over $800.00 at best buy and still does not alert you when someone sets your alarm off....Disappointing to say the least. I was told by the salesman that it would alert my blackberry from any distance when my alarm is triggered so that is why I bought this system... Save your money, It will only lock/unlock your car and remote start it.....I dont need these features, I needed to know when someone messes with my vehicle.