The BlackBerry Storm is the first full touchscreen smartphone by RIM. Research in Motion (RIM) has made its mark in making great mobile devices for the business segment with its BlackBerry handsets. RIM’s signature work in most of its devices include a very dependable full qwerty keyboard and the push email technology that’s geared towards the corporate crowd.
It was then not surprising when RIM announced the BlackBerry Storm with a full touch screen interface — an arena that competing manufacturer Apple is making big waves with its iPhone. It was a move that RIM needed to do in order to slow down if not stop Apple’s attempt at eating away its long-dominated market.
The biggest challenge for the BlackBerry Storm when it shed the physical keys was the virtual keyboard. The screen itself is recessed so you need to press down on the display panel instead of just tap. Users familiar with other touch screen phones may find this mechanism a bit odd but for first timers, it only takes a little while to get used to (I still often forget to press down a bit harder every once in a while).
Only four physical buttons are found at the bottom of the display panel that’s dedicated to Send, End, Menu and Return. The virtual keyboard also rotates automatically in landscape mode when the device is positioned sideways.
The Storm sports a large 3.25-inch screen with a resolution of 480 x 360 pixels of up to 65,000 colors. The display delivers bright and crisp details especially when playing video and multimedia files in MPEG4 format. The user interface is very similar to other previous versions of the BlackBerry but the touch navigation becomes a bit frustrating especially when scrolling webpages.
For connectivity, the Storm is equipped with Bluetooth and 3G/HSDPA. RIM completely skipped WiFi functionality which could turn off a lot of data-heavy users expecting this feature to be there. As such, 3G (including GPRS) connectivity is practically essential as the BlackBerry relies on it for delivering push email. But as I said in the TV interview for QTube last week, the lack of WiFi is a deal-breaker.
The built-in autofocus camera is 3.2 megapixels with 2x digital zoom and coupled with a flash. It takes good pictures under decent lighting conditions although the shutter is a bit slow and could result to blurry images even with the flash activated. The handset has a 128MB flash memory and a 1GB internal storage that can be expanded to 16GB with an external microSD card.
The BlackBerry Storm has a 1400mAh battery with a capacity of 6 hours talktime and 15 days on standby. My experience with the push email set to “On” gave me about 2 days worth of usage. To maximize and use the push email functionality, the device requires a BlackBerry service subscription with a RIM partner telcos (both Smart and Globe offer BlackBerry Personal Plans).