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Hands-On BlackBerry Storm: 24 hours with RIM's touchscreen smartphone

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The software
Like the Bold, the Storm uses the latest version of RIM's operating system, which replaces the old icons with sharper, crisper symbols for each app preloaded on the phone. The home screen displays eight of these apps; further drilling through the menu displays all 24. Flicking through them takes some getting used to, as pages don't glide as smoothly and naturally as they do on the iPhone. Instead, we found the movement to be somewhat rigid. We encountered the same problem when trying to select apps. At times, one press would open them instantaneously, whereas other times we had to select it again. The phone's accelerometer was equally picky. Sometimes it would adjust according to our hand gestures while other times the screen would freeze. This lag caused our phone to crash once within our 24-hour test. Fortunately, we were back online after removing and re-inserting the battery. It's also worth noting that the Storm does have an impressive boot up time — it powers up in roughly five seconds.

App-wise, the Storm comes with DataViz's Word To Go, Sheet To Go, and Slideshow To Go, which let you open and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents respectively. On the media side, you'll find support for a handful of apps like Flickr, Facebook, Google Talk, AIM, and Yahoo! Messenger, amongst others. The Storm naturally supports BlackBerry e-mail and also works with a variety of POP and IMAP e-mail servers.

Internet Browsing
The Storm packs a 3G radio that lets you take advantage of Verizon's EVDO Rev A network, along with UMTS/HSPA support when you're traveling abroad. The browser displays web pages in full glory, although Flash video isn't supported. When browsing, you can choose how you want web pages to appear by selecting the browser layout of your choice. You can choose between Microsoft's Internet Explorer, RIM's BlackBerry browser, or Mozila's Firefox. Choosing the RIM browser, for instance, lets pages show up in "mobile" mode when applicable, where as Firefox mode will display pages just as they would on your desktop.

Final Verdict
RIM and Verizon Wireless succeeded in creating a fervor over the Storm's release and rightfully so. On paper, it trumps the iPhone with a better camera, cut and paste support, and an impressive list of features. Some might even argue that Verizon's network is stronger and better than its competitor's, and we would have to agree. In our tests, calls sounded crystal clear providing a strong signal throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Jersey City. However, its sluggish OS, lack of Wi-Fi, and frustrating keyboard keep us from fully recommending this smartphone. We suggest BlackBerry fans consider the BlackBerry Bold as their messaging phone since the Storm requires a high learning curve and lots of patience. As for touch-sensitive phones, we recommend Apple's iPhone, which remains the reigning champ by a long shot.

Verizon Wireless Blackberry Storm

BlackBerry Storm
Price
$199.99
(after $50 rebate)
Weight
5.5 ounces
Data Plans
$49.99/mo Unlimited Data
Width
(at thickest)
13.9 mm
Screen
3.25" 480x360
Camera
3.2MP
Audio/Video/Photo
MP3, AAC, WMA, MPEG4, H.264, WMV
Wireless
None
Web Browser
BB Browser
Storage
1GB (built-in)
8GB microSD included
Expandability
up to 16GB via microSD
Bluetooth
Yes
Keyboard
Virtual Qwerty,
Virtual SureType
Headphone Jack
Yes (3.5mm)
Stores Supported
N/A
Rated Battery Life
5.5 hours talk,
360 hours standby

Louis Ramirez is dealnews' Features editor.

Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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