Blackberry 9500 Storm Smartphone

By on April 9, 2009
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Lets talk about one of the most important bits on a Blackberry- the Keyboard. There’s only one type of keyboard configuration that I like- a full keyboard in a portrait mode. I’ve tried all other kinds- T3 type input, landscape sliding-out keyboards etc. but could never get myself accustomed to them. Thus I was a [...]

Lets talk about one of the most important bits on a Blackberry- the Keyboard. There’s only one type of keyboard configuration that I like- a full keyboard in a portrait mode. I’ve tried all other kinds- T3 type input, landscape sliding-out keyboards etc. but could never get myself accustomed to them. Thus I was a bit disappointed when I received the Storm that could only do a full keyboard in landscape mode. However, a quick search revealed that one of the official firmware (v.113) does allow for a full keyboard in portrait mode and since its generally a good idea to evaluate a device with the latest software. I upgraded my unit right away.

The keyboard on the Storm, unfortunately doesn’t work as well as the iPhone. I kept switched between a full keyboard and SureType in portrait mode as well as the full keyboard in Landscape mode but even after a week of practice and getting a hang of it, I was nowhere close to being as fast as the iPhone and miles away from a standard Blackberry such as the Bold. There are three problems that I think need to be addressed with the Storm’s keyboard. First of all, when you hover over a key, it turns blue. But considering the fact that your thumb in ON the key, its not easy to see which key is highlighted. The iPhone solves this by magnifying the key above your thumb so always know where you are.

Secondly, once you have identified the key, you have to Press it which automatically becomes slower than using a touch keyboard. Too add to the injury, as I mentioned above, the click is not the most sensitive on the edges which sometimes makes it frustrating to realize if you have already pressed a key or not. Last and certainly not the least, is the auto-correction feature. Its alright, but not as good as the iPhone. To give you an example, mistakenly typing “hellp” always converted it to “help” and not “hello” which is what I wanted to type. The Storm didn’t bother learning this even after I corrected it three times. It gets even harder when you type non-English words. I pretty much lost my appetite trying to type Chelo Kebab Bakhtiari and Kashko Badamjan to my wife for picking up dinner.

Last but certainly not the least, the Phone Application has gone through an update on the Storm and one of the good things is that when you click on a contact’s number, it shows you a brief history of calls made to that number. What’s obviously lost is the ability to assign a quick dial/short cut to a keyboard button, however, you can assign speed dial for numbers 2-9 on the soft keypad. This leads to one of the efficiencies of the Blackberry platform that is lost in Storm- you can no longer start typing a name like you would on a QWERTY blackberry to bring up a contact. Now, you have to go into the phone app, switch to the contacts page and then type the name in the search field using the soft keyboard- a process similar to one on the iPhone. Another complain is that the screen stays active when you answer a call and put the phone next to your ear which has, at least once, caused an accidental pressing of the soft buttons on the screen and disconnected my call.

RIM claims that they’ve put their highest capacity battery on the Storm-1400 mAh which is the same found on the new Curve 8900 but given the extra power required by a big touch screen, it doesn’t necessarily compare that well to their recent devices. If I turned on 3G, I would just about get one day’s use which is almost similar to the Bold. However, switching to 2G/Edge gave me two days on the Bold but the Storm couldn’t last more than just over a day, which is half of what I got from the same battery on the Curve 8900. That too, when the Storm was mainly used for emails and phone calls- If I was to browse the web, download applications, listen to some music or watch videos then it was back to one day with 3G turned off.

I feel the Storm is trying to bridge two gaps- one between a full touch device like the iPhone and the Blackberry Platform and the other between a consumer and a corporate user. Unfortunately it doesn’t succeed at either. As a business user, I would rather carry my Bold or an 8900 Curve that allows me to be much more efficient with calling and emailing along with providing me an excellent battery life.  As a consumer my iPhone offers me a much better experience with its user-interface, browsing and multimedia capabilities.

RIM should decide on how it wants to position the Storm- as a consumer product or as a business product. Using the Blackberry O/S and simply adding touch capabilities to it doesn’t cut it. I wont argue about the hardware as I feel that its pretty powerful and the clickable touch screen is certainly very innovative. The fault in the Storm lies mostly in the software- RIM seriously needs to study the end-user experience with the Storm and turn it into a product that its set out to be.

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Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali

  • Osama

    I used it…hated it. I can’t stand the whole touchscreen/button idea. If they wanted to make an iPhone beater, they should’ve aimed higher…way higher.

  • BlackberryStormApps

    I totally agree with the editing feature in Black Berry Storm. I’ve been struggling with the text feature of Iphone especially if you are used to Nokia or Sony Ericsson brands.Wait till you see the integrated and WiFi feature and the improve SureTouch feature. These new features will definitely redeem Storm.

    Btw, I just want to share this information I found which is definitely useful for Storm users. There is an All Blackberry Storm Apps that do not require any compatibility mode. It has a Cool Call Blocker application, useful tip calculator, Typing speed application, a bartender app that tells you what drinks you can make based on what you have in your kitchen and even a super-quick and bright flashlight app!

    This is a must have for Blackberry Storm fanatics!

  • Pingback: Blackberry Storm @ t-break - TestFreaks Forum - Geeky discussions about Consumer Electronics

  • Jodiuh

    If you’re not going to bother updating firmware, why should we place merit to anything in your review?

  • Jodiuh

    Maybe I’m sleepy, but I don’t see anything on the 2nd page about firmware. Did you at least get a chance to loosen the torx screws and put some paper behind the battery door?

    I went right from .109 to .122 and there’s quite a difference. From 25MB free to 40MB and I can finally leave Opera mini running in the background wo/ the GUI having a heart attack. Sadly, it still goes back down to 25MB later in the day and becomes crappy again. Quickpull’s scheduled every night @ 4am, so that’s a work around for now.

    .122′s really gotten the GUI where it should have been in the beginning though. Here’s to hoping for .200 instead of a Storm 2. :(

  • Abbas Jaffar Ali

    Sorry- my bad. Its now on the first paragraph of the third page- last line. Must’ve been moved when the review was edited.

    It was a loaner unit from RIM so I didnt want to open it up- in case something messed up. But what exactly does putting paper behind the battery door do? My back cover is firm in its place if thats what it helps with.

    Storm 2 rumours have certainly been making the rounds. Lets hope RIM reads reviews and comments on the Storm and makes it out to what it should be

  • Jodiuh

    There are 2 torx 6 screws in the middle (left and right) behind the battery cover. The right screw’s covered w/ a red sticker (water damage revealer?), but it’s removed easily w/ a push pin or small needle. You can’t even tell I removed it. But be careful, my bro ripped his. :D

    From there, you can loosen 1 or both ever so slightly and play w/ them to get the right amount of tension on the screen. Once you’ve tweaked it to your liking, it will not longer “stick” and should press down 2-3x easier than before w/ much faster rebound.

    By placing a felt/plastic button or slim paper behind the battery door and centered behind the screen, you reduce the total travel time. Now instead of a PRESS, it’s a quick tap.

    Combined and after some practice, typing on this phone became a true joy to use. I’m getting very fast and accurate on the portrait QWERTY and the landscape keyboard gets used when I want to relax and chill type.

    The current .122 has increased the speed of the GUI tremendously. However, it still leaks memory like a champ. That may well be due to the weatherbug or one of the many crazy apps installed, but quickpull sort of fixes that. Every night, it does a reboot and gets me back up to speed.

    Battery life on the thing impresses me the most. I know a lot of users complain about the G1 and the iphone’s not a warrior either. But I can last 1 to 4 days depending on how hard I use. it. Average is about 2 and that’s using GPS on occasion, 30-40 emails a day, 30 minutes of phone, and a decent amount of browsing.

    Here’s a good illustration and guide for modding the screen which BB should have done from the start IMO:

    And the Storm 2 better come w/ an “upgrade” offer to Storm 1 users if it comes out sooner than a couple years…

  • Cool

    I am not happy with Rim Blackberry at all! I have to dispose my Iphone because of Storm Blackberry with the aimed that it’s going to have all the features i needed compared to Iphone.. they should try to correct that as soon.

  • iPhone Lover

    The Storm has got to be the worst phone I ever used. The software is slow and feels very arkward. The screen may be crystal clear but the icons and color scheme is horrible. The web browser sucks you can’t browse any regular website with it. The video playback is slow to start and the controls are jerky. I would go on but this would take all day.

  • Reggaeluvr

    Blackberry Storm!!! What a turd!!! I wanted to take it back the 2nd day i had it. Can’t upgrade because you need a Windows system running internet explorer. Who the hell uses internet explorer anymore?? Phone sucks!! I don’t care what it cost, i’m getting a iPhone.

  • Abbas Jaffar Ali

    Jodiuh: If you read the second page of the review it states that I used the latest official firmware available at that time which was .113

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