BlackBerry Storm2 9520 review: Back in Black... Berry
A great video player
Watching videos was one of our favorite activities on the BlackBerry Storm2 9520. The great picture quality, the ample screen and the good number of supported codecs make the handset a decent portable player.
The video player usually works fullscreen with the virtual buttons only appearing upon a tap on the display.
The best part about the Storm2 video player is that it comes with DivX and XviD support. We had no trouble playing most of our test videos on the handset, which is better than most of its RIM stablemates.
So in most cases you will only need to upload the video to your Storm2 and start the player - no converting necessary.
Passable image gallery
The image gallery of the Storm2 is nothing spectacular, being hardly any different than the one we saw on its predecessor a year ago. It does pretty well overall with the 100% zoom shortcut earning our appreciation.
The gallery has standard functionality including thumbnail and list view of the images. It also offers finger gestures, meaning you can browse pictures by sweeping your finger across the screen. You can also zoom in on a photo by pressing the screen and sweeping with your finger. Opting between portrait and landscape mode is automatic, thanks to the built-in accelerometer. All you need to do to switch modes is to flip the phone sideways.
We are particularly happy with the zoom to actual size shortcut on the BlackBerry devices. This gives you a quick and easy way to review photos in the finest detail possible.
Overall, picture browsing is decently fast but the zooming is on the slow side. There is some lagging even when it is handling 3 megapixel photos, let alone if you upload higher-res images.
An average 3 megapixel shooter
The BlackBerry Storm2 9520 is equipped with a 3 megapixel autofocus camera and a LED flash. We are used to expecting next to nothing from the BlackBerry cameras so when one actually produces average photos we are nicely surprised.
The camera interface is still on the worse side of devices we have tested. Since the display has the same aspect ratio as the camera sensor, the readings that appear at the bottom cover a part of the viewfinder and impede proper framing.
The camera options are also pretty uncomfortable to access as there are no shortcuts on the screen meaning that you have to dig in the menu. Not that there are too many settings you can apply, but still.
The best part (or rather the only good part) of the camera is undoubtedly the image-geotagging, which allows you to automatically record your location in the images EXIF data.
The few other settings available are: white balance, color effects and digital image stabilization. There is also the obligatory picture size and quality.
The image quality of the BlackBerry Storm2 9520 is about average in the 3 megapixel league. It's about the same as on the Bold 9700 and close to what the other manufacturers offered a few years ago.
We are not enjoying particularly good weather around the office these days so the camera samples might seem even worse, but actually the amount of resolved detail is acceptable. The noise levels are acceptable for a 3 megapixel shooter in those kinds of conditions.
Contrast is OK, though hardly impressive, and the colors could have used a tad more saturation but they aren't too bad overall.
Here go several samples so you can judge the image quality yourselves.
Uninspiring video recording
If there is one thing that is generally worse than a BlackBerry still camera that would be the BlackBerry camcorder. Yet the Storm2 isn't completely hopeless offering videos with a maximum resolution of 480 x 352 pixels and framerate of a good 30fps.
There is still way too much compression applied and the colors seem a bit too dull but let's not get too picky. In the BlackBerry world any video where you can tell a person from a bus is considered good.
Videos are captured in 3GP format and if you fancy, you can apply various color effects. The LED flash can also be set to work as a video light.