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RIM BlackBerry Storm 9500 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 530
inc VAT SIM-free; free on £40 per month,18-month contract

Specifications

BlackBerry OS 4.7, 3.3in 480×360 display

http://www.expansys.com

The latest BlackBerry is a slim but weighty touch-screen phone.

It differs from other touch-screen handsets in that the entire screen is a big button – you can select items using touch alone, but they are activated only by clicking the screen. This is hard to get used to at first, and the fact that the screen wobbles from side to side when you slide your thumb across it is disconcerting. With no seal around the screen’s edge, we’re concerned that even a splash of liquid could have serious consequences.

The Storm supports 3G and HSDPA networks but, surprisingly, not WiFi. It has a 3.2-megapixel camera with LED flash and a built-in GPS receiver. The latter comes with a six-month trial of Vodafone’s Find & Go satnav application, which includes turn-by-turn directions and costs £5 per month once the trial ends. There’s support for multiple email protocols including BlackBerry’s own service and Microsoft Exchange. You can view and edit office documents and PDF files, but for more advanced features, such as word count and spellchecking, you’ll need to upgrade to the Premium version for $70 (around £46).

The phone comes with a suite of applications installed, and an Application Center lists further software you can download, such as IM clients, Google Maps and Facebook. It’s not exactly a wide selection compared with what’s on offer at the iPhone App Store or Google’s Android Market. It may be early days, but RIM already has a lot of catching up to do.

The onscreen keyboard changes instantly when you change the phone’s orientation. With the phone upright, you get two letters per key, and the predictive software offers word choices as you type. This isn’t very good for entering names or passwords, however. For that, you need to turn the phone on its side to access the full QWERTY keyboard. This has relatively large keys, but it’s a little fussy about how you press them, and we found ourselves making numerous errors.

Overall, we weren’t impressed with the touch-screen interface. Besides the fussy keyboard, the touch-and-click mechanism is inconsistent. Sometimes when trying to click a button we succeeded only in magnifying the screen. At other times we found we’d opened an application by mistake. Selecting the right option on menus is hard, and editing a document is a nightmare as there’s no fine control of the cursor position. However, we liked the way it saves web page requests for later if no network connection is currently available.

One of the Storm’s saving graces is its battery life, which is far better than those of other touch-screen models we’ve seen. The innovative touch-and-click interface has potential, but it needs improving. Long-term BlackBerry users may have the patience to get used to it, but as a competitor to the iPhone, it falls flat.

Details

Price £530
Rating ***

Hardware

Main display size 3.3in
Native resolution 480×360
Second Display No
CCD effective megapixels 3.2-megapixel
Flash LED
Video recording format MP4, 3GP, H.264, H.263
Connectivity Bluetooth, USB
GPS yes
Internal memory 1024MB
Memory card support microSDHC
Memory card included 0MB
Operating frequencies GSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G 2100
Wireless data WCDMA
Size 113x62x14mm
Weight 155g

Features

Operating system BlackBerry OS 4.7
Microsoft Office compatibility Word/Excel/PowerPoint editors, PDF viewer
Email client POP3/IMAP/Exchange/BlackBerry
Audio format support MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, WMA ProPlus
Video playback formats MP4, WMV, 3GP
FM Radio no
Web Browser BlackBerry browser
Accessories headset, data cable, charger
Talk time 5.5 hours
Standby time 15 days
Tested battery life (MP3 playback) 18h 47m

Buying Information

SIM-free price £530
Price on contract Free on £40 per month, 18-month contract
Prepay price £530
SIM-free supplier www.expansys.com
Contract/prepay supplier www.vodafone.co.uk
Details www.blackberry.com

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