If you want the best email service on the move, it’s hard to beat a BlackBerry. So the promise of a touchscreen BlackBerry is especially enticing. The result is great, if not perfect. The main fault is the lack of Wi-Fi: a curious omission in a phone that’s as sophisticated as this and encourages web browsing so strongly.
RIM, BlackBerry’s parent company, says there just wasn’t room, but it is still disappointing.
On the other hand, the handset is only available on Vodafone, which has an extensive HSDPA enabled network and includes 500MB of data transfer per month (and Vodafone tell us that unless you exceed this regularly, you won’t be billed extra).
The Storm has a clickable touchscreen, which is spectacular. Generally with touchscreens it’s too easy to slip through from one menu to another with the most casual of touches. If the operating system is fast and responsive, like the iPhone’s, you can find yourself sliding through from one level to the next before you know it.
On the Storm, the screen moves under your finger’s pressure, so that when you touch the screen it highlights an option and only selects it when you press down. It’s a simple and highly efficient system, although it looks a little cheap with some light leakage from the side of the raised display.
Texting is often an issue with touchscreen interfaces, but not here. When you turn the phone to landscape orientation, a full QWERTY keypad appears. It’s big and easy to use and even has the text correction facilities found on other BlackBerry models. Turn the phone upright and you can use the SureType input system found on the Pearl.
Cutting and pasting text is a major iPhone omission, but that’s made up for here. Touch the screen at the beginning and end of the text and it is highlighted, so you can copy and paste easily.
The camera, a 3.2 megapixel autofocus sensor with flash, outguns Apple’s handset, too. And unlike the iPhone, all the programs in use stay active even when they’re not on the screen in front of you. Time will tell how battery-depleting this is.
If you’re familiar with BlackBerry’s unusual but efficient operating system, you’ll be at home here, with everything redesigned for touchscreen. And it has another handy innovation: where on Windows Mobile touchscreen phones a stylus is essential to pick out the tiniest areas of dense screens, here you can create a virtual mouse pointer which you direct with your finger.
It’s a neat and effective solution, especially since the Storm has a capacitive touchscreen which won’t respond to the touch of a stylus, anyway. Capacitive screens look better and cost more, which is why few phones (this, the iPhone and the G1) have them.
So is it an iPhone beater, at last? It’s a tough call. The lack of Wi-Fi is a shame and it’s pretty chunky, though not so wide you can’t use it as a phone comfortably. But the screen, a higher resolution than Apple’s, looks terrific. The clickable touchscreen is exceptional and there is of course the BlackBerry email functionality as well. Like the Bold, its key feature is left to the end because there’s simply nothing else out there to beat it.
Exceptional touchscreen experience and with a much better specification than the iPhone
The lack of Wi-Fi is a real oversight. Vodafone says it won’t matter, but we’re not convinced
RATINGS (OUT OF 5)
|Battery:||5h30m talk/360h standby|
|Camera:||3.2MP + LED flash|
|Multimedia Player:||Music, Video and Pictures|
|Memory/Expansion:||1GB + microSDHC|
|Connectivity:||Stereo Bluetooth, USB|