BlackBerry Storm 9500 review: Berry-go-round

GSMArena team, 13 March 2009.
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Connectivity: No Wi-Fi is a bummer

Smartphones are usually very well-heeled in terms of connectivity. Well this just goes to show that the BlackBerry Storm is all set to hit you when you least expect it. Business is all about data transfers and stuff and while we perfectly acknowledge the carriers' agenda we cannot figure out why is Wi-Fi left out.

Anyway, pleasing the carriers was obviously more important than pleasing the end user, so RIM decided to go without one of the main features in the Storm. So here is a situation for them - quite a lot of business users travel for work. Why should they be forced to pay roaming data traffic when Wi-Fi would have been so much cheaper?

And here is another one: the Storm 9500 only supports HSDPA 2100 MHz, which means that every EMEA citizen who travels across the pond will be stuck with EDGE. Now how is that for the company flagship?

The BlackBerry Storm has a standard microUSB port and its used for connecting it to a computer and charging. Once connected, you can sync your data with the mobile phone including your iTunes collection of ripped and purchased music. You can even use the Storm as a tethered modem.

Bluetooth v2.0 connectivity is also on board and the latter naturally also sports A2DP. It also has a microSD memory card slot (up to 16GB), which can usually give you the fastest data transfer rates. Blackberry have included a 8GB one for free in the package.

Web browser is quite nice

The web browser of BlackBerry Storm is a whole lot better than its connectivity set. Nicely touch-optimized, it takes the otherwise good BlackBerry application to a whole new level. The extraordinary touchscreen really makes a difference here, making sure you will never again hit a link by mistake. Now, if only they'd added Flash support all would've been just fine.

Panning is the done by sweep gestures, and zoom is controlled by tapping on the screen. You can also zoom using the shortcut keys appearing on the screen in non-fullscreen mode or via the relevant menu. However that last option is hardly comfortable so we doubt anyone will use it too often. When you zoom in by tapping on a desired column the text does automatically center onscreen.

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The web browser has its flaws but is generally very good

Page rendering is quite good, making all the pages look as if browsed on a desktop PC. The high resolution is also a welcome bonus here, as it allows more content to fit on the screen. In all fairness, we did have a few instances of web pages not getting properly rendered but those were too rare to be an issue.

Unfortunately, the web browser has no Flash support, meaning flash video websites like YouTube are a no-go for the Storm owners.

So, generally speaking, the Storm web browser is quite comfortable to work with, even though a few more gestures implemented might have improved it even more. The lack of Flash is the big problem with it but the general experience still deserves a very positive mark.

Organizer is just great

The organizer is one of the best parts of the Storm. It has a good set of applications and although some of them are not quite some lookers, their usability is on a very decent level.

The calendar has monthly, weekly and daily view modes and allows easily customized events to be set up. We have to admit that some event presets would have been useful but unluckily the device fails to provide them.

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The BlackBerry Storm calendar

Mobile office is also very well geared, with preinstalled applications able to open and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Furthermore, document editing is also supported unlike most competing phones. Unfortunately, there is no PDF viewer preinstalled so potential users will have to get one themselves.

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Documents can be browsed in portrait and landscape mode Editing is available too

The organizer package also includes a calculator with a built-in unit-converter as well as voice recorder and a Notes application. A handy To-do manager allows you to set-up and organize your upcoming tasks.

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The calculator and the voice recorder

The alarm application allows you to set only one alarm which doesn't get standing ovation. It's quick to turn on but most of its settings can only be adjusted from the settings menu. There you can change the tone, snooze interval and the volume as well as the vibration intensity.

The clock also offers a bedside mode that turns off the status LED (unless you set it otherwise) and displays a large clock on the screen. The display then automatically lights up when you lift the phone thanks to the built-in accelerometer.

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Setting up an alarm is pretty simple with the Storm

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