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Going down a Storm?

Consumer Brands - 28th November 2008

Hooray!  I’ve managed to get my hands on one of the last remaining BlackBerry Storms in the UK.  This is the product touted by RIM as its iPhone rival, but better in some respects thanks to its clickable touch screen.  So, great excitement at getting to grips with this pocket wonder.

However, although it’s very early days, the signs are that this smart phone definitely falls into the category of ‘good, but not great’.  The good things include the versatility of the product, the ever-dependable functionality of the email, and – to an extent – the clickable screen, which can be satisfying when you get it right.  However, I’m already wondering if/thinking that I made a mistake in not going for the highly rated but more evolutionary BlackBerry Bold

If you’ve chosen to go the RIM route rather than Apple, it’s likely because you value practical email above all else.  However, whether I use the Storm in portrait or landscape mode (each with their respective keyboard layouts) it is a frustratingly long time before I can produce a typo-free email (and, yes, I care about that sort of thing).  In particular, the landscape qwerty keyboard, which I held out so much hope for, is very tricky with my sausagey fingers and thumbs.  If it’s email you want, I would recommend going for something with real keys.

As to browsing, this is the first phone I’ve had that professes to any real ability in this area.  Rendering, again, is ‘good, but not great’.  It makes the grade for accessing things like our hosted timesheet application, but straying too far into the rich media environment unearths its shortcomings – a good work helper, but nothing to stake you life upon.  The iPhone definitely retains the edge in this area. 

Also, and probably more significantly, the browsing experience on such a small screen isn’t a delight, except on those sites like and that offer mobile-optimised formats.  That isn’t a criticism of the Storm, so much as a criticism of the suitability for phone handsets for this type of use.  Roll on the next generation of Kindle-like units that give us more real estate to view the web, plus new functionality that builds on the still commendable achievements of RIM with the Storm.

For a more exhaustive assessment of the Storm, has a thorough road test here.  The moral of the story for me is that, if it sounds too good to be true, it doubtless is – at least for now.