So far we have covered four of the best smartphones: the Apple iPhone 3G, HTC Touch HD, Nokia E71 and Blackberry Bold 9000, and it is another Blackberry that we take a look at now. Blackberry is a massive company in the smartphone market and it is no surprise that it is the only one with more than one phone in this list – although this may also be a reflection on the inexperience of the other companies in this market.
So moving onto the Blackberry Storm the most obvious question is how different is it from the Bold, and I suppose the most obvious thing is the use of a touchscreen instead of a QWERTY keyboard. This is an attempt to open up a different bit of the market and is Blackberry’s first real attempt at a full touchscreen, obviously prompted by the iPhone.
Ease of use
The touchscreen instantly makes navigation (around the menus) very easy although it is perhaps not as a smooth as the iPhone, and the 360 x 480 resolution is not up to HTC Touch standards. Despite this, it is very nice to use and the “clickthrough” screen (where the screen acts as a button) really is a great idea, making selecting items more ‘natural’ and typing a lot easier.
Admittedly it does take some getting used to, but when you do you will find that it is much more satisfying than any of the other touchscreen keyboards. The screen itself is also good, the resolution of 360 x 480 is perfectly adequate, the 3.25-inch size is easily big enough and it is also very bright allowing you to use it even in the sun.
The Storm has a curious selection of features, especially when you consider what the Bold has: the main thing that it is missing is a Wi-Fi adapter which is a very odd thing to exclude in a modern phone like this, but the rest of the connection options are all there including a six-month subscription to Vodafone’s satnav software.
One of the more irritating things on this phone is the poor Office capabilities which only allow you to read and edit documents. This is pretty frustrating especially if you are someone who intends to do work on the move, and it is a shame that RIM couldn’t put a fully fledged Office programme on it.
In true Blackberry fashion, it comes in a sleek black, with some stylish silver highlights down both sides creating a very nice colour scheme enhanced by the silver buttons on the side. The back is also well designed with a smooth back broken only by the Blackberry logo, with the 3.2-megapixel camera tucked at the top behind a black protective cover.
The price is, surprisingly, exactly the same as the Bold at £630 for an 18-month contract but unfortunately, unlike the Bold, it is not available SIM-free (but bear in mind that if it ever does it will probably be at around the same price as the Bold). Although you may be thinking £630 is a lot (compared with the Nokia E71 for example) bear in mind that of the six we will look at it is the joint second cheapest (with the Bold) which makes it look pretty attractive.
The most obvious thing to look at first is how long it lasts against its brother, and it is not quite as good lasting a few hours less at around 89 hours compared to 93. This is probably down to the larger screen, but to be honest the difference isn’t really one that will make a huge amount of difference as both are very good.
This is another great phone and is a very solid first touchscreen smartphone from Blackberry, but unfortunately, I don’t think that it is quite good enough. Sure it is by no means a bad buy, but the iPhone and HTC Touch are both adorned with more features making them both slightly better smartphones. But do not rule this out straight away — if you really want to buy into Blackberry’s prestige but felt that a QWERTY keyboard is not for you… try the Blackberry Storm!