While most smartphone manufacturers have released at least one fancy touchscreen model, RIM has pretty much stuck with their Blackberry's standard businessman-pleasing form, a squat candybar design with QWERTY and a tiny screen. That was, until they announced the BlackBerry Storm, the first full touchscreen Blackberry on the market—and also the first smartphone to transform a normally cold, lifeless touchscreen into one big clickable button.
So what did the press think? They loved it...and they hated it...depending who you talk to.
...its 3.25-inch VGA glass display also demands attention for its sharpness and brightness, showing 65,000 colours at a crisp 480x360-pixel resolution. We weren't as impressed with the Storm's screen as the BlackBerry Bold, but it's still beautiful.
A solid voice phone, the Storm has fine reception, and earpiece and speakerphone volume are both very loud. There's also some pleasing in-ear feedback of your own voice. Transmissions sounded steady on the other end, with just a little background noise coming through, thanks to the phone's dual-mic noise cancellation.
When you want to select anything, be it a multimedia app or the number five, you have to press the screen down a millimeter, it's roughly the same sensation you get when clicking a mouse. But that small press makes a huge difference. Text messaging is amazing — pounding out a long-winded SMS (with a lot of compound words and no abbreviations) is just as easy as typing one out on a MacBook's keyboard. This is the single killer feature of the Storm and if not for a few glaring flaws a good reason to go out and buy one right now.
The decision by Research in Motion to differentiate the Storm by giving its capacitive touch screen a mechanical component (the entire screen functions as a button for confirming selections or initiating actions) turns out to be more confusing than helpful. Ultimately, the Storm's touch interface feels like a failed experiment.
With a little practice, we were able to get used to [the virtual keypad]and speed the typing along, but it was never quite as fast as typing with a real mobile keypad, or even with the iPhone's virtual keypad.
The Wall Street Journal
The Storm also has a keyboard oddity that I found annoying, and that may put off others. It presents you with a full virtual keyboard only when you are holding it horizontally. When you hold the Storm vertically, you get a mashed-up keyboard, like the one on the narrower BlackBerry Pearl, which has multiple letters on each key.
Why would BlackBerry addicts want to give up buttons for a touchscreen typing system that is almost, but not quite as good? The trade-off is for the big, beautiful screen that you get when you're not using the keypad. It's far better for reading emails, using GPS or playing BrickBreaker than any BlackBerry that's come before.
...the web browser on the Storm, new to OS 4.7, is very good. I wouldn't say it's as good as the browsing experience on the iPhone but it's pretty darn close, certainly close enough. Web pages are rendered quickly in full page mode and when you double tap on the screen the browser zooms in to column mode...Simply hit the Back hardware button and you instantly zoom back out.
The camera on the BlackBerry Storm should have been much better. After all, with auto focus, a 3.2-megapixel sensor and plenty of advanced settings for shooter, you might expect the camera will take decent photos...[yet]colours seemed sapped out of even the most exciting scenes, as Times Square and our little hot pink action figure were both rendered drab. Noise was somewhat of a problem, though there was a nice amount of detail in pics when the auto focus was doing its job correctly.
I think that the Storm falls short of what RIM was aiming for, and ultimately what all the hype is driving people to expect. Some of this is fixable: The damn thing needs to crash less often. But SurePress is not the end-all, be-all of touchscreen technologies—it's not really an evolutionary step forward, even.
The Storm will be available tomorrow (November 21) for $US200 after Verizon rebate.