BlackBerry Storm 9500

The Storm's clickable display has given us confidence in touchscreens we haven't enjoyed before now. It won't be for everyone, but those who master this system will be rewarded with an excellent smartphone experience.


7.9
CNET Rating
5.2
User Rating

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Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon


Design
Somewhere between the aesthetics of the BlackBerry Bold and the iPhone 3G you'll find the chic BlackBerry Storm. The large, colourful screen lends itself to comparison with Apple's wunderkind, but the details of the design are undeniably BlackBerry.

The Storm is sexy: a combination of glossy piano-black and stainless steel line the display, with a faux brushed metal matte-black plastic battery cover. External keys on the edges are also in steel and include a volume rocker and a dedicated camera shutter button. The Storm features a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top-right side of the phone, as all self-respecting multimedia mobiles should.

To complement the touchscreen input, the Storm also sports a familiar quartet of mechanical keys below the screen, the same calling keys and BlackBerry context-sensitive menu button we've seen on all recent release BlackBerry handsets.

Touchscreen
A BlackBerry with a touchscreen may seem like a Porsche with wings — as though the two don't quite go together — but trust us; this is a cool step forward for the BlackBerry family. It seems that BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM) anticipated a reticence to touchscreens from its loyal fans so it developed a depress-able screen and software it calls SurePress.

The touchscreen uses the same capacitive touchscreen technology as the iPhone and it registers contact with the surface as accurately. Unlike the iPhone, contact with the screen will only highlight a selection, not execute one. Opening a program requires you to touch the screen then press gently — this is SurePress in action. While this may seem like extra effort, it actually acts as a second chance. Rather than regularly opening and closing programs by mistake, or mistyping letters in an email, you have that split second to realise you've hit the wrong key before pressing on the screen.

Features
On paper the Storm is a classic BlackBerry. It puts in something new, the touchscreen, but takes something away: in this case that's Wi-Fi. When you consider that the Storm was developed in partnership with phone carriers Vodafone and Verizon in the US, it makes sense that the Storm wouldn't feature hardware capable of circumventing the carriers ability to make money off data services. Still, for consumers this is a bit of a blow.

For chewing through said data, the Storm features HSDPA network support and browses the web through the same BlackBerry browser we find in the Bold, optimised for touchscreen input, of course. The Storm also includes Bluetooth for pairing to hands-free headsets.

In regards to pre-installed software, BlackBerry aficionados won't be missing any standard inclusions like the excellent messaging client, document readers, a variety of instant messaging apps and the browser. As an exclusive to Vodafone, our review unit also included links to download Vodafone service apps like MusicStation and the always improving Vodafone Compass navigation software.

Prior to the launch of the Storm RIM began spruiking the BlackBerry Application Centre, a centralised web space to download a range of apps and tools for newer BlackBerrys. Our review unit features the shortcut, though the App Centre is only populated with about a dozen apps at this time — hardly the 10,000 reportedly available on the Apple App Store.

Performance
Despite some minor lagging we've found the Storm to be quite powerful and sufficiently responsive. Some tasks, like opening large video files, can take a moment or more to process, but basic menu navigation and the all-important messaging app run pretty smoothly.

If you can put up with the short pause as the video loads then watching video on the Storm is great. Unlike the iPhone, the Storm has excellent video codec recognition, supporting MPEG4, H.264, WMV and the obligatory 3GP mobile phone video format. Formats the phone doesn't recognise are converted during transfer via the BlackBerry Desktop Manager. The 3.25-inch touchscreen is sharp and colourful and the audio is decent. The same, of course, can be said for music playback, though we do recommend forking out for an upgrade to the headphones that come bundled with the phone.

Battery life is a major concern for smartphones with large, high res displays and a range of connectivity options. The Storm is not immune from sucking through the juice and we found it was possible to run the battery down after about 10 hours of heavy use, however, it manages standby battery life much better than most. With casual use we saw battery cycles of several days, even with push email active. If you make frequent calls or would listen to hours of music a day you'll want to keep the charging pack with you.

Overall
As a dalliance into virgin territory for the BlackBerry family, the Storm is a success. As a smartphone, the Storm will suit the needs of many looking for a solid business tool with high quality media functionality. The touchscreen and RIM's SurePress tech won't be for everyone, and we'd be surprised if owners of the BlackBerry Bold even bat an eyelid at this release, but we love it. We've never been as confident smearing fingerprints over a touchscreen with our chubby, clumsy digits.

The BlackBerry Storm is exclusive to Vodafone and will be available on a BlackBerry service contract for AU$69 per month and includes unlimited data and an 8GB microSD card.

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Shan12345 posted a comment   
Australia

I hate the blackberry storm. It shuts down by itself sometimes, does not notify me when my txt message has been sent so I end up spamming my friends unknowingly until it finally tells me that my message has been successfully sent - happened too many times. Doesn't receive picture messages or takes hours if it decides it wants to and there's so much more..... My 12 month plan is almost at an end and I can't wait to get another phone.

AnnieA Facebook
5
Rating
 

AnnieA posted a review   

Starting from the top. The phone feels solidly built. It has a good weight to it and feels durable. My only fear is that my propensity for dropping phones will be disastrous for the glass click screen

AnnieA Facebook
5
Rating
 

"Almost Perfect"

AnnieA posted a review   

Simply put, the phone is very good. It isn't as breathtaking as I wanted it to be, however it is not nearly as disappointing as many critics want you to think.
Starting from the top. The phone feels solidly built. It has a good weight to it and feels durable. My only fear is that my propensity for dropping phones will be disastrous for the glass click screen

LukeM2 Facebook
1
Rating
 

"It broke today in the rain..."

LukeM2 posted a review   

The Good:Camera

The Bad:Everything else

I have written twice here about the BlackBerry Storm 9500. I'm writing today for a 3rd time. I'm a Vodafone customer (the horror!) and have been since August 2010. I took a $29 cap plan with them for $180 of included value and I pay an extra $10 for BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) which is for the unlimited data, email and BBM. I promptly purchased a new BlackBerry Curve when I was experiencing problems with the Storm (it froze, crashed, it wouldn't handle calls properly at all) and Vodafone proclaimed there was nothing wrong with the phone and handed it back to me. The Curve has a lovely flimsy plastic case, and that cracked and that phone now makes fizzing noises and doesn't really load anything. So that's gone in the bin now too. :)

Not so long ago, realising that in my past life things were so much simpler with pre-paid and Nokia phones running the Symbian S60 system... I bought a Nokia E71 from Vodafone for $199 to use my SIM in. This broke. Sat in a Uni class, the backlight all of a sudden broke and so I couldn't read anything on the phone's screen... I'm slightly mortified that because of their returns policy and the fact that it seems to have broken beyond repair (I don't really know how it happened and is extremely rare for Nokia phones to just break like that) I had to dig out my BlackBerry Storm from the vault in a bid to make it work.

Alas, without the magnetic leather pouch it did just about work. But it's still as fiddly and annoying as it was in the early days.

It's raining today in Brisbane. Walking down a street in the CBD, BlackBerry Storm in hand. Some water got under the clicky screen and typing messages started to go haywire. The application switcher kept flicking up on the screen and my messages became a distorted blur of **** nonsense. Things started to pixellate and the screen has this horrible watermark on it now... and it keeps seizing up, locking itself and unlocking itself and trying to flick between apps, totally unsure of what it really wants to do.

I'm mortified and have given up with the BlackBerry Storm once and for all. I have no usable phone. Where I live (and spend most of my time) the Vodafone coverage is so poor too that I pick up my Storm in the morning after a charge (and it needs charging EVERY night because the battery sucks) and it shows the SOS symbol. I have to re-set it. The date and time are now wrong and it's a pain to correct.

So what's my solution? I got a Nokia E63 on Optus Pre-Paid... and I'm more than happy with it. It does everything the Storm won't do, including actually work properly for 5 minutes.

The only plus side to the Storm is the 3.2mp autofocus camera which takes some of the nicest photos I've ever managed to get out of a camera phone. But that's it. I do rather love my new little Nokia E63. Within minutes of turning it on. And it's got this pretty yellowy Optus theme on it which is just spiffing. :)

If you want a Smart phone, don't get the BB Storm. :)

 

Amit posted a comment   

The Good:Nothing

The Bad:Every Thing

Dirty phone -- BB 9500 dont every buy...

driss
1
Rating
 

driss posted a review   

nothing good on that machine

 

angela posted a comment   

First time i had a blackberry storm 9500, the dealer had to change it because it was faulty for 3 times. On the 3rd time, it still had a problem which I have to take to a repair center.

This is a nightmare to use and I would not recommend this brand at all.

 

almost human posted a comment   

Very bad phone I ever have. don't think to buy anything like this from BB

damboy
9
Rating
 

damboy posted a review   

The Good:almost everything, plus isnt an iphone

The Bad:slow internet, short battery life

why are so many people complaining about apps? bb's are a business phone. if you want a toy get an iphone. if your screen and phone lag, you probably havent closed your apps or browsers, this is different to using the 'back' key to get out of it, also updating the software helps. texting in landscape with the qwerty keyboard is so simple an ape could do it. the best part is that predictive text doesnt like that annoying 'text speak'! media player is good, i connect mine to my car instead of a ipod. only bad things ive found is the battery life deteriorates quickly, and the net tends to load a bit slow sometimes. otherwise a good phone.


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User Reviews / Comments  BlackBerry Storm 9500

  • Shan12345

    Shan12345

    "I hate the blackberry storm. It shuts down by itself sometimes, does not notify me when my txt message has been sent so I end up spamming my friends unknowingly until it finally tells me that my m..."

  • AnnieA

    AnnieA

    Rating5

    "Starting from the top. The phone feels solidly built. It has a good weight to it and feels durable. My only fear is that my propensity for dropping phones will be disastrous for the glass click screen"

  • AnnieA

    AnnieA

    Rating5

    "Simply put, the phone is very good. It isn't as breathtaking as I wanted it to be, however it is not nearly as disappointing as many critics want you to think.
    Starting from the top. The pho..."

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