BlackBerry Storm: Still Loving It

Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on December 18, 2008

One of the frustrations of reviewing products is that I always have to write before I have spent enough time with a product to feel really comfortable about my assessment. Sometimes, however, I’m able to use a new product over a longer period and come back with a more measured assessment.

The touchscreen BlackBerry Storm opened to distinctly mixed reviews when it debuted in November and mine was one of the most positive. I’m happy to say that after using the Storm daily, the feel that my original judgment has not only been confirmed but strengthened.

I think there were two reasons for some of the negative reactions to the Storm. BlackBerry fans tended to compare the on-screen keyboard to the excellent physical keyboard on the Bold and found it wanting. I don;t think there will ever be an on-screen keyboard that can match a good physical one; you just have to decided whether the tradeoff for a bigger display is worth it, and I felt it was. (It is, however, frustrating that in the U.S., the Bold is exclusive with AT&T and the Storm with Verizon; you should be able to make independent choices of your handset and your carrier and I hope these exclusives won't last too much longer.)

The second reason is that I think that some reviewers were bothered more than I was by some minor performance glitches when the Storm was first released, The touchscreen was sometimes sluggish, especially in switching between portrait and landscape mode when you rotated the device. And some minor calibration issues occasionally generated errors when you ended up clicking the screen and selecting something other than what you thought you had chosen. I find these a minor nuisance but the were showstoppers for others.

The good news is that no matter how you felt about these problems, they have been fixed by a software update available through either a desktop link or over-the-air. (You can check your version number by choosing About on the Options menu. The new version is 4.7.0.75.)

The Storm isn't the smartphone choice for everyone. But if you want a big screen and can deal with a virtual keyboard, it is a very good one.

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Reader Comments

Alan Friedman

December 18, 2008 11:32 PM

While i recently had to replace my first Storm, the replacement came the very next day and has worked flawlessly. The clicking is soooooooooo much better that I send text messages to myself just to type on it...lack of wifi is NOT an issue with EVDO Rev A and the browser-while not onj the same filed as the Safari-is a very good browser and in fact, the Storm actually has 3 different browser choices so that you can get desktop sites, mobile sites and in between. And with RIMM and Verizon apparantly taking care of the Storm owners, this device will only get better.

c

December 19, 2008 04:25 AM

Great!!that's !

faizal kamal

December 19, 2008 06:25 AM

The touchscreen was sometimes sluggish, especially in switching between portrait and landscape mode when you rotated the device. And some minor calibration issues occasionally generated errors when you ended up clicking the screen and selecting something other than what you thought you had chosen. I find these a minor nuisance but the were showstoppers for others.
that's why i love blackberry, in here all of facilities from blackberry we alwas say "GOKILLL" its mean Really AMAZING
thanks this awesome article,sir

Rick White

December 19, 2008 08:10 AM

My Storm altough sluggish at the start work great since the upgrade. However, I favor RIMM to continue to with upgrades and soon. I like the phone/ display/ and miss wifi since at my house i have enhanced coverage, but no 3g. I see where Verizon has extended the return to January 15, 2009... but this was for all phones bought during the holiday season. Not just the Storm. I do wonder what the return rate is for the Storm... I heard/read 40% - 50% of them are being returned to Verizon. How true that is I am not sure? If you have heard such or know such as a fact please write in.

Graham Strong

December 19, 2008 09:12 AM

Looks like an interesting phone, but I'm curious about Verizon's advertising. The Storm is not, as they claim, only available on Verizon. In Canada alone, it is available through Telus and Bell.

Seems a bit misleading, no? Sure, you can say "well, the 'within the US' is implied..." but there is a certain cachet that comes with exclusivity, especially in the cell phone industry.

And Verizon is trading on a cachet that just isn't quite there...

IMHO,

~Graham

Steve Wildstrom

December 19, 2008 09:33 AM

@Graham Strong--It's customary for carriers with national exclusives to claim exclusivity in their ads. AT&T does the same thing with the iPhone and the BlackBerry Bold. The Storm is currently available from Verizon in the U.S., Telus in Canada, and Vodafone in Europe.

Steve Wildstrom

December 19, 2008 09:36 AM

@Rick White--A new version, 4.7.0.83, surfaced yesterday after I posted this item. I expect Verizon will make it available in a week or so. There was a report earlier this week of high return rates on the Storm, but Verizon has vehemently denied them. Since only Verizon really knows, it's hard to say more.

arly

December 19, 2008 10:07 AM

Is it worth it to buy the blackberry storm or should I wait for couple more months

Flint

December 19, 2008 05:30 PM

I'm with you Arly. My battery won't hold a charge but I am waiting until after the holiday season to see if there are any additional fixes or features. Should I wait? I just don't know.

Steve Wildstrom

December 19, 2008 06:47 PM

@Flint, Arly--If you want a Storm, there's probably no reasons to wait, though there have been reports of shortages at Verizon. I don't believe any changes are contemplated in the hardware and you will be able to update the firmware with any new releases.

burke

December 19, 2008 10:24 PM

The storm instruction manual is probably the worst I have ever seen.
The Q, A and number selection key are very hard to select with a case cover in place.
The unit is prone to hanging up and often requires removing the battery to reset....a real pain if you have a case cover.
I have yet to get the browser to work properly inspite of the fact Verizon tech support have spent hours trying to solve the problem.
Iphone touch screen more responsive and easier to use.
VZNavigator is excellent and talk capability a must

Matt

December 20, 2008 11:09 AM

Just glad to see someone giving the Storm a positive review. I've had mine for a little over two weeks and I love it. No, it's not perfect. There are times when it frustrates me, but I've used an iPhone and played a bit with a few other touch screen phones and the Storm is no more buggy than any of them. I think it's a promising first gen product from RIM and I'm looking forward to seeing what they do next.

Liz Cranston

December 20, 2008 01:13 PM

I just read at Wireless and Mobile News that Verizon  has  BlackBerry Storms available in stores..  It looks like the shortage is over (for now.)

Tyler

December 20, 2008 02:13 PM

The storm is a good phone. It's my 1st blackberry. I noticed it works a lot better after the upgrade. I did notice one thing that no one seems to have a problem with or has been reported. The call timer tends to work initially but then freezes up. also, with any new phone there are bugs that have to be worked out. Sometimes the screen goes blank when you answer an incoming call but you can still talk to the person. Verizon has the best tech support around compared to other companies. The screen quality is absolutely better than the iphone. Its Amazing clarity is welcoming !

Pamela

December 20, 2008 05:02 PM

Re: the Storm shortage...

I went into my Verizon store in eastern Pennsylvania, a metropolitan area, to pick up two Storms for myself and my business partner, and was told it would take a week to get them shipped.

I asked if there was a store within driving distance that I could pick them up within 24 hrs, and was told no and that all stores in the region were sold out.

Chantale

December 20, 2008 08:04 PM

Well about these upgrades, as they continue to produce more phones with the blackberrys already be upgraded?
Or would you have to do it yourself?

For those who are thinking about waiting do you really thinks its best to just purchase one now, because no time soon will there be changes?

Steve Wildstrom

December 21, 2008 09:12 AM

@Chantale--Don;t hold off waiting for an upgrade. These are software upgrades and they are very easy to install.

Jimmy JJ

December 21, 2008 10:46 AM

I ordered my storm online at directpagewireless.com and had it 2 days later. Didn't have to deal with a mail in rebate debit card either to get the $199.95 price. The version I received had the latest firmware so I guess waiting a month to order was a good thing. I like it! The email is second to none, love the fact that I can set up seperate alert tones for each email account and that AOL instant messenger is always on. Two things that are lacking on my iphone.

Michael

December 21, 2008 04:40 PM

I have had my storm for a week now and am loving it more than any phone I have had before. Using it seemlessly with my mac/pc now and all applications and attachments showing with no problems. Upon receiving the phone, I took the time to go through and do all the upgrades (which took a while. I was somewhat skeptic but have had very minimal challenges to day to day demands. Love the dataviz.

Eddie

December 22, 2008 12:56 AM

I waited in line and excitedly got one of the first shipments of the Storm. Kept it for 12 days, sluggish, typing was inaccurate, portrait/landscape issues, etc. Went to the Omnia, thought I could handle the Samsung shell over WinMo, but it's still a WinMo. Exchanged it back for the Storm again because I heard of the improvements & software updates. The unit is AWESOME!!! All previous issues gone, typing is very accurate, and it's GREAT!!! Especially because it's on Verizon, I've moved from AT&T iPhone 3g. It'd be a closer call if Verizon had the iPhone 3g though.

Steveo

December 22, 2008 01:44 PM

Hows the battery life on the phone? I have the 8830 now, and I need to charge it every night (which I dont mind). Will the battery hold a days charge considering heavy phone (6 - 8 hrs/day) (i run my business off my cell) and moderate web usage (2 hrs/day)?

I also heard there was a proximity sensor issue. Where when talking on the phone, your cheek hits buttons. Any truth in that?

Thanks

Jack

December 22, 2008 02:16 PM

The Storm, before and after the upgrade, is like two different phones for me. The accelerometer is fixed, browser redraws are improved, the device crashes and hangs much less, etc. There's still some weird stuff going on, but not above an acceptable limit on a device so capable. I think those of us who have never owned an iPhone appreciate the clickable surface more because we were never used to simply touching the screen to type. Also, the speakerphone is ridiculous, and reproduces music (at a moderate volume) better than my laptop speakers.

Steve Wildstrom

December 22, 2008 02:38 PM

@Steveo--Battery life is very good, comparable to the 8830 and the Bold. Of course, you can also always carry a spare battery (unlike another phone I can think of.)

Activating a selection requires giving the screen a good, firm push. Merely touching it will navigate around the screen, but won't make a selection. Your cheek may touch a button, but it won;t activate it.

t.

December 22, 2008 03:06 PM

Return Rate? Does anyone remember when the iphone 3G came out? Brand New Software running New Software being sold in vast amounts in a short period of time are prone to issues. The storm is an awesome phone, there just happens to be a learning curve, if you can get used to it which is inevitable, you'll prob. become hooked. They don't call em crackberry's for nothing.

graham

December 22, 2008 03:28 PM

just got my 1st storm and think it is great - stop the whinging!!!!

Vidman

December 22, 2008 07:44 PM

Canucks unite......... Telus sent me an email today here in Toronto to state they now have Storms available in most stores. Heck they even gave a 1 800 telephone number so that you can call to see which store is the closest. I went into the Telus store today in Mississauga ON (west of Toronto) and the store had 27 of them. Needless to say...I am picking mine up tomorrow. Nice to see RIM finally became St.Nick to Telus.
Ho Ho Ho.

Amanda

December 23, 2008 01:23 PM

Well, I'm a current iPhone user who is awaiting her Storm delivery tomorrow. Thank you all for the reviews I'm very excited to change over to the storm!

jvc

December 23, 2008 06:01 PM

I love my storm- but manual sucks. The software upgrade does wonders.

I suspect most people dissatisfied with storm did not take time to learn it's secretes.

The more you play the more you stay- can't wait for new software

vidman

January 17, 2009 10:35 AM

Picked up the Storm. Not quite sure if I like it yet. Find quite a few quirks. Seems like it does not have enough internal memory when you "unlock" it, and then rotate it. Seems to freeze. Also, when trying to use it for text of email, and you flip from horizontal to vertical, it has a delay in action...just like an old Pentium 2 trying to run too many apps at once. Telus needs to get their act together with RIM and provide us the .83 rev, as for it seems like Verizon has the upper hand on this "fix". If you capture video over 5 minutes to record to the flash card....some videos save, and some dont. Camera is delayed --when you click the "shutter" it should be instantaneous......not so much. Lastly, keypad seems not to be calibrated properly. If anybody from RIM here in Canada is reading these postings....get with the program. Get Telus and Bell proper firmware revs so they can pass onto the thousands of Canucks that have these Storms...or you may have a Storm of your own that you can not weather!!!

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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