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Hands-On: BlackBerry Storm

Hardware Software Comments  100+  

Oct 7, 2008, 11:24 PM   by Rich Brome   @rbrome

Our hands-on report of the just-announced BlackBerry Storm touch-screen phone for Verizon. Our first impressions with plenty of photos.


Research In Motion (RIM) and Verizon Wireless are preparing to launch the new flagship BlackBerry - the Storm 9530 - in time for the holidays. The Storm joins an increasingly large group of phones with large touch screens and new interfaces designed specifically to be manipulated with your finger, like the iPhone.

I recently spent time with a pre-production Storm 9530. I came away very impressed. Read on to see what surprises the Storm has in store.

The Storm isn't excessively large, thick, or heavy. It's not going to impress in these departments, but it's reasonably pocket-friendly. If it's a half-ounce heavier than I would like, the upside is that this weight adds to a feeling of solid construction. Indeed, the overall build quality feels excellent. The rear battery cover plate is made of metal, which also helps. In terms of size, it's shorter than the iPhone. It's slightly larger than a Curve, although tapered edges help it feel smaller in the hand.

The display is huge and very high-resolution. At 480 x 360 pixels, it has 12% more pixels than the iPhone, and those pixels are more dense, making details exceptionally clear and crisp. The Storm bucks the wide-screen trend with an old-school 4:3 aspect ratio.

The big news about the display is the touch technology. First, it's capacitive, like the iPhone and the HTC G1. This alone is great news, but the real innovation is the true tactile feedback. The whole screen is essentially one giant physical button that you can press down for a gratifyingly real "click" action. There are no haptics or funny tricks here; just good ol' tactile feedback, and it works very well.

As you would expect, the click action lends a great deal to the experience of pressing virtual buttons and text entry. However, it also enables a whole new dimension (literally) in touch interaction. Capacitive touch technology requires no pressure; it responds to the very lightest touch. This means the Storm has two distinct ways to press the screen. A light touch is just a "touch", while a more forceful press results in a "click". This makes the Storm the first phone we know of with what could be considered a "3D" touch screen.

RIM has implemented a few clever uses for this in the BlackBerry interface. For example, the browser has a "cursor mode" that simulates a desktop browsing experience. Touching the screen moves a visible pointer around the web page just like using a mouse, while clicking (of course) clicks. Browsing email lists, a click will open that email, but a touch-and-hold will search for all emails with the same subject or sender. The QWERTY keyboard also has a touch-and-hold shortcut for accessing accented versions of letters, which is very useful for non-English languages.

Moving on to the rest of the hardware... there's an accelerometer, of course. Rotating 90 degrees in either direction flips the whole interface; it's quick, works on most parts of the interface, and works equally well for lefties.

The front has four physical buttons: Menu (BlackBerry), Back, Send and End. They are all easy to find and work well. The top sports two semi-hidden physical buttons: mute and lock. The top buttons are completely smooth with the rest of the plastic at the top, but their placement at the corners keeps them easy to find and use. There's also the usual assortment of side keys, all of which work well.

You'll also find a standard micro-USB connector (which supports charging) and a standard 3.5mm headphone jack for use with a headset or your favorite music headphones. Stereo Bluetooth is also supported.

On the subject of sound, and moving to the back of the phone, there's a secondary microphone on the back which provides active noise cancellation. The speakerphone is also on the back. It's surrounded by two protruding rubber bumpers. These really stick out quite a bit and make the Storm harder to slip in and out of pockets, but they do their job of keeping the speakerphone loud and clear when the Storm is sitting flat on a desk. The speaker is quite loud and clear in all situations.

The microSD memory card slot is located under the battery cover, but it's easily accessible without removing the battery. The Storm comes with 1 GB of built-in memory plus another 8GB on the included memory card. Cards up to 16 GB are officially supported, and it should handle 32 GB cards in theory. Metal battery covers will be available in several colors, allowing some degree of customization.

Also on the back, you'll find a 3 megapixel auto-focus camera.

Besides the unique touch screen, the other feature of the Storm that blew me away is the roaming capability. This is simply the most global and most 3G-savvy phone made to date.

In the States, naturally it will work on Verizon's CDMA 850/1900 network. Not only is it EVDO, but the faster Rev. A flavor of EVDO, so you get the fastest data experience Verizon's network has to offer.

It's when going abroad that the Storm breaks new ground, though. The Storm supports all major overseas GSM and 3G networks. It's quad-band GSM, which gives you full GSM roaming even in Latin America. It also has HSDPA 2100, so you get full 3G data speeds in Europe and Asia. Verizon has roaming agreements already in place that support those 3G networks, and Verizon does not charge extra for 3G roaming; it's the same rate as GSM/EDGE data. The Storm 9530 even works in Japan and South Korea. A SIM card comes with the Storm, so it's ready for all this global action right out of the box.

The only thing missing is WiFi, but with so much 3G love, this is one of the few times we almost buy Verizon's argument that WiFi would be redundant.



This forum is closed.

This forum is closed.


Oct 14, 2008, 10:00 AM

Problems in the future?

I really, really want to upgrade to the Blackberry Storm (and more than likely, I will). I'm just concerned that the phone may have a few glitches if I get the first ones that are released. I know people that got the first iPhones-some of them had problems with the first ones, then they released the 3G, which made the first ones seem archaic.
Of course with every new handset there will be some kind of glitch or lag, mainly s/w issues. It's a good thing that once s/w issues do arise, they can be easily fixed thru a s/w update. Hardware problems are most rare than s/w problems. If there was ...
There is almost no difference in the iphone and the iphone 3g are u serious.....
I plan on upgrading to the storm as soon as its released, and honestly I'm not worried about any software glitches. One thing I've always liked about verizon is the are meticulous in there testing before they release a new handset, and if you or I hap...

Oct 16, 2008, 6:43 PM

BlackBerry Storm

Looks Great but no Flash! BlackBerry and Verizon lost a sell there because of that. To many things you cant do unless you have flash!!
Take a look at the pics of the phone again...I believe that you're wrong. On the back of the phone you'll see the lens which is to the left of the text that says 3.2mp and the flash is to the right.

Oct 27, 2008, 3:07 PM


does anyone know if it will be avabile on sprint in the future? and a possible release date 4 verzion? Shocked

Oct 10, 2008, 4:51 PM

Google Maps??

So with no flash support with the browser means no google maps, Correct? I love that on my curve. oh well.
I believe (not 100% sure) it will support VZ Navigator.

Oct 8, 2008, 8:52 AM


I'm a long time BB fan/user. I actually made the mistake of getting AT&T service so I could enjoy an iPhone, but amazingly [read: predictably] AT&T service sucks! The iPhone is cool enough and I still use it as a very expensive iPod Touch, but VZW's service is unbeatable.

I cannot wait for this phone to be released! My birthday is Nov. 8--I can't think of a better bday present!


You can't really judge AT&T's service with an iPhone. They've had nothing but problems with those things... Rolling Eyes
I was at a bb training class today where the bb rep had a working storm. i got to play with it and it is really nice. the keyboard is nice and spaced out the screen looks great. she wouldn't tell me when its coming out but they do have a release date ...
Read on the net today that VZ has a release date of Nov. 10th for the Storm. I'm thinking that might be true since they have been dragging out the release of this phone for over a month.

Oct 8, 2008, 5:13 PM

why does it show a sim card slot?

verizon is cdma not gsm why does the pic show a sim card?
because it is quad band GSM too. When you are traveling overseas just pop in a sim and are connected...
It's a global phone that also has GSM for roaming overseas. Verizon and Sprint have offered several of these before.
Verizon is offering GSM for World Travle and CDMA for World Travel and for the US.

With this you can use it for GSM GPRS EDGE UMTS & HSDPA internet speeds while traveling.
Right in the statement.
"It's when going abroad that the Storm breaks new ground, though. The Storm supports all major overseas GSM and 3G networks. It's quad-band GSM, which gives you full GSM roaming even in Latin America. It also has HSDPA 2100, ...

Oct 9, 2008, 9:17 AM


What's this thing likely to cost? Okay, the phone is touch screen and filled with radios and comes with a sim card and an eight mb micro SD. The 8830 is $219.99 2yr contract add $79.99 for 8mb card and $39.99 for the Sim an an 8830 would be $340??? What would adding touch screen and all the other features raise the price to?
Funny, the 8830 is $149.99 on a 2 year contract on their website (as of 10/9). I thought SIM cards came with them standard.
The 9530 Storm comes with a standard 8mb card and common sense says the price would be competitive with iphones. Maybe a littl...

Oct 12, 2008, 10:25 AM

Storm Simulator

I've heard a few mentions of a storm simulator that allows you to play with the features that will be available on the storm. Does anybody know where I can find this?
blackberry web site

Oct 14, 2008, 12:28 AM

BlackBerry Messenger

Will the Storm have BlackBerry Messenger on it? I was looking through photos and I can't find BlackBerry Messenger on the phone (under apps, or instant messenger sections).
that would be like making an iphone without a media player.of course it will have blackberry messenger. Smile

Oct 13, 2008, 11:01 AM

Storm - Very heavy in weight

I think many people have overlooked one con that may be the deal breaker for me. Its the weight. The new storm is going to be 5.5 oz. Thats about 15% heavier than the 8830 (4.6oz). And the size of the Storm is about sliver smaller length and width of the 8830. So why the big increase in weight? For a device that small it will be like a piece of lead. Its even .75 oz heavier than my current Samsung i760.

A 5.5 oz phone is almost as heavy as the HTC6800 5.8oz.

I personally think the HTC Diamond Touch at 4.1 oz is where the new RIM should be at. At least the Storm should be no heavier than 4.6 oz 8830.

Weight=Quality. The Storm has a glass screen and metal backing; that's going to put on a little extra weight, but you still don't have to be a body builder to use something that weighs 5.5 oz. It weighs about as much as a bar of soap.

Oct 13, 2008, 11:30 PM


When is this phone set for launch? Anyone know?

Cody »
I saw something on the internet about a November 10th release date for this phone. Not too sure if this is accurate but I wouldn't be surprised if that is the date. VZ has been dragging out releasing this phone.

Oct 8, 2008, 10:40 AM

Will Verizon cripple the GPS on this phone too?

Since Verizon consistently cripples GPS enabled phones to charge an extra $15/month for their crap service are they going to do it to this phone too?
The good news is VZNav is only $9.99 a month and in the time it took you to ask your question you could have done some reading and seen the BB Maps. Very Happy

Oct 8, 2008, 10:45 AM

WiFi vs 3G -- am I missing something?

I really just don't get this and maybe someone can explain it to me:

The only thing missing is WiFi, but with so much 3G love, this is one of the few times we almost buy Verizon's argument that WiFi would be redundant.

I realize that 3G provides excellent coverage and speed, but I do not understand why people (besides Verizon) believe having WiFi would be redundant. If I'm sitting at home or in a local cafe that has WiFi, why would I want to use 3G and have to pay for the amount I download rather than take advantage of the free WiFi. Like I said, I totally understand Verizon wanting you to use 3G instead so they make money, but how can an outsider say its just as good to use 3G.

Maybe I'm missing something w...
  1. I said "almost". Wink
  2. Most people do use the $20-30 unlimited data plans.
Lack of WiFi is a deal breaker for me. Although I am a VZW fan, I expect a phone of this quality to have built in WiFi. GSM BB's have it but, thanks to Verizon's greed, they have disabled WiFi on all their BB's and their phones. I believe that the Mot...
3G = A very large coverage area for fast data speeds for almost anywhere you are.

Wifi = We're's the nearest coffe shop so i can use this expensive device to see if that cute guy messaged me on myspace?

Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
Since this is a competitor to the iPhone 3G lets take somethings into consideration.

iPhone 3G works it's 3G magic in about 40% of the US Population and you still have to pay the $30 3G data plan not matter how you connect or where you are located....
What you're missing is femtocell. I'll lay down good money that and EVDO femtocell is less then 6 months away from hitting the market on VZW. It makes a lot more sense for the company to market femtocells which improve voice AND data coverage indoor...
I used two iPhone 3Gs and my LG Dare in an area with low signal. I set the iPhones to run WiFi off a 6 Mbps Cable, and the Dare... well, Verizon EVDO. All three phones performed the same. That's right, my little Dare was hammering out the websites jus...

Oct 8, 2008, 4:08 PM

exclusively verizon?

will this phone be exclusively for verizon or will it eventually be released for ATT?
Vodafone and Verizon have an exclusivity contract with RIM. In order to maintain exclusivity they must meet sales goals.
AT&T has US exclusivity on the Bold (whenever that is released).

Verizon has US exclusivity on the Storm

The only phones that are not exclusive beyond a 3-6 month time frame is the New Pearl (Codename Kickstart for GSM and Apex for CDMA) and the...

Oct 13, 2008, 12:21 PM

Exchange support

I see that the Storm will support 'enterprise email systems'. Will it provide exchange push email like iPhone or Windows mobile phones without?
It works like every other Blackberry, if you have a question, ask your IT Department.

It works with Blackberry Enterprise Servers, Outlook OWA, POP3, IMAP, or an Outlook Redirector program can be installed on your computer. The OWA, POP3 and IMAP j...

Oct 8, 2008, 10:11 AM

Just get a browser to work!!!!

Being a former iPhone crackhead I came away from this review extremely impressed, except for the damn browser again. No matter what service or phone I look at, no one can beat the iPhone browser. But looking at every other option, this might be the phone to challenge the iPhone. Good luck Blackberry!

P.S. Amazing review as always guys!
Mozilla is working on releasing their Firefox Browser for the Mobile platform. Maybe if we're lucky it will run on Blackberries and ease our browser problems.

Oct 8, 2008, 5:15 PM

Switching from iPhone to this device and Verizon

Sorry, but I had the iphone 2.0 without too many issues then I switched to iphone 3G. Big mistake. I have had it with this phone and service is lousy. I have always wanted a cool phone on the best network in the states. Now it will work on GSM too? I can travel without any worries. This will hurt ATT and the lousy iphone. I could care less about the few features my iphone has over the Storm. Now I get a better camera, text messages again!! with video and pics, etc etc etc... Waiting patiently... Glad I can get enough on ebay for my iphone to pay for the phone and canceling my service...
Um, ok, thanks for telling us. But my service w/ ATT is way better than with Verizon and Verizon's rates stink and they are a crappy company so sorry VZW no business.

Oct 10, 2008, 11:23 PM

awesome goodness ..

this will be my first blackberry and i am super excited! before reading the review, my only skepticism about the storm stemmed from it not having a true keypad but i'm convinced it won't take much getting used to .. and adding a data plan should be an easy adjustment, too. i remember being this stoked about the fantastic voyage(r) last year. i absolutely love my voyager [except when the speaker started going bad a couple of months ago, but i took it to the vzw store and they gave me another one] and i'm totally prepared to love my blackberry storm just as much, if not more! i wonder if the storm will be made available for pre-order like the phones in last year's 'holiday line-up' .. i'm so looking forward to attacking the fed ex guy again ...

Oct 10, 2008, 5:04 PM

Gonna need a new phone soon, advice please....

After reading this article, it seems the storm is a very impressive phone. The other phone I was looking into was the LG Dare...

The thing is I am in professional school and will be scheduling patients, making appointments, and needing to access my email on my phone

Bottom line I guess I need a more "grown up" phone than my current enV #1, which was an awesome phone.

Just looking for some advice on the Storm vs Dare vs waiting for a better phone to come out, if there is one on the horizon ( I am probably like most on this board wanting/looking for the next best thing Very Happy )
Nothing will come close to approaching the Storm for any use whatsoever. It is the culmination of what anyone could ever want in a phone.

To be more specific, it combines the user-friendliness of an iPhone with the functionality of both a tradition...
Do you need a Data Plan? Because all Blackberries require a data plan. If not and you want a PDA with a touchscreen, the Samsung i910 Omnia is coming out. All touchscreen windows mobile. You can sync it with your calendar and you dont need a data plan...
cell guy jamie

Oct 8, 2008, 9:26 AM

Does any one else see the ROGERS MALL on the first picture !!!

I was looking at my new drug of choice "THE STORM" and on the very first picture. What do i see?

whats with that. . .

A full GSM edition to come?
I'm still in shock about this picture.
I check a couple other pic's of the phone that were posted. Its is really on the unit shown at three angles.

For a little background knowledge:
Rogers is a Full GSM company in Canada, much like AT&T for y...
It's actually "Rogers Mail", and it's a user-created shortcut to someone's web mail. Since RIM is a Canadian company, that was simply the PR person's link to her personal email.

Like the iPhone, the Storm lets you re-arrange the touch buttons on th...


It could be a Fav. saved for a Web Site, or anything!


N O T H I N G !
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