Blackberry Storm First Impressions

25 Nov
2008

Like most large enterprises we have our fair share of smartphones in use.  While IT tries to keep this limited to a select few, I did recently get a hands-on with the new touch screen Blackberry Storm from Verizon.  Being an iPhone user myself I can certainly say it was a different experience and RIM while taking advantage of the now popular touch screen enabled devices has set themselves apart from the iPhone.  For better or for worse the phone appears to be solidly built and well designed.  Several side-by-side comparisons with my iPhone revealed the Blackberry Storm to be a little shorter and thicker but weight was about the same and I would certianly have no problems carrying it in my pocket.  The higher-resolution camera would be a welcomed addition to my iPhone but my real test was trying to use the clickable touchscreen.  Being and iPhone user for the past year and a half didn’t help my experience as the Storm functions more like a tablet PC where the focus is constantly changing as you move your finger around the screen to select different options.  When you have moved your finger over the menu item or area you want to select you simply press down on the screen.  The feedback was intuitive enough but I made the mistake of using it in portrait mode where the web browser presented me with a condensed set of keys (two letters for each key).  Turning the unit sideways revelaed a full single letter per key layout which was better for writing messages.  I enjoyed the iPhones predective text features more and having the pop-up visual keys appear when you type on the iPhone.

The clickable test is not a show stopper but I imagine, that while effortless, a long session of typing would cause your thumbs to become a bit tired.  Granted these devices aren’t meant for long diatribes but should certianly meet the needs of most quick e-mail responses.  I think I’ll stick with my iPhone for now and hope that Apple continues along their roadmap and includes some needed enhancements to the existing software like landscape typing of e-mails, status screen separating unread messages into multiple accounts, more alert options for new messages.  Some of this may come about with the release of the push-messaging agent Apples been promising but if history is any indication I shouldn’t have to wait too long before Apple sends out another enhancement release.

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