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Summary:

The BlackBerry Storm has assumed a position in my daily work since picking it up recently and I figured I would share how the experience has been going.  Bear in mind that I evaluated one of these prior to launch so it is not totally new […]

cimg1320The BlackBerry Storm has assumed a position in my daily work since picking it up recently and I figured I would share how the experience has been going.  Bear in mind that I evaluated one of these prior to launch so it is not totally new to me, but how I approach usage on my own phones like this one is always a bit different than the approach with a short-term loaner.  Read on to see how the Storm is working for me so far.

The first thing I did after getting the Storm set up was to upgrade the OS to version .103.  I wasn’t having problems with the Verizon version it came with but I heard from so many people that had upgraded and insisted I do the same.  So I bowed to peer pressure, confident in my ability to roll back should the need arise, and I headed to the Crackberry forums to get the new OS.  They also had very explicit instructions on how to make the upgrade and I highly recommend anyone thinking about doing this to check out these instructions.

I carefully followed the instructions to the letter and everything went as it should, although I admit I got pretty concerned when I realized it was taking such a long time.  It took about an hour, as a matter of fact, but it came back with the new OS yet with all my data intact.  I’m not one to advocate hacking a phone like this as a rule but this is a genuine RIM update so I felt pretty good about doing it.  Verizon takes so long to get approved upgrades out the door, and if I had to do it all over again I would.

This new OS is fast; everything happens immediately, with no lags anywhere.  The full QWERTY keyboard in portrait orientation is a nice option to have, too, although I am usually using SureType due to its accuracy.  I have readjusted to the onscreen clicky keyboard and find I’m getting pretty darned fast typing on it.

Once I got back into a routine with the Storm I realized how much I missed the BlackBerry message notification system.  It’s hard to understand how useful the little red blinking LED is to indicate when a message has arrived.  They always arrive on the Storm first, too, something I’ve noticed about BlackBerries.  I’ll usually get the notification on the Storm, followed by the notification on my Mac from GMail, then the iPhone, followed finally by Apple Mail.  That’s the way it’s always been, in my experience.

Since I use GMail for my main email I am happily using the BlackBerry GMail app on the Storm.  While not as pretty as the GMail app on the T-Mobile G1, it is fully functional and I like working with GMail through the app.  I like how the GMail app caused the aforementioned mail indicator to light up when it receives mail, too.

Blackberry 8830 holster

I was digging through a drawer in my office and found the holster I used with the BlackBerry 8830.  I tried it and discovered this holster fits the Storm perfectly, so the big screen is not only well protected while inside, but the holster puts the phone on standby when placed within it.  This is very convenient; I can’t remember seeing anywhere else that this holster works with the Storm.

I have installed various software on the Storm and a few of the apps have made for a good time.  I have been playing with the Bolt browser (beta) and it’s very neat.  It’s easily the fastest browser on the Storm and it displays well on the big screen.  It’s not optimized for the Storm, however, and that creates some problems with clicking things on the screen.  Usually you have to physically click the screen on the Storm to make things happen, but with Bolt it sends a click when you just touch the screen, a la the iPhone.  This makes it hard to select links on the screen sometimes so I hope they change this in the future for the Storm.

The one program that has filled the only remaining gap I had with using the Storm as my main phone is eReader.  I was unable to use the Storm alone given my penchant for reading ebooks on my phone, so the nice folks at Fictionwise gave me access to the beta they will be launching soon.  It’s definitely a first version but makes reading books as good as on any other device and I’m enjoying the heck out of it on the Storm.  That big screen is nice and I like how you have to click the screen to make the pages turn.  One of the problems I have with the iPhone version of eReader is how it changes pages when I accidentally brush the screen.  That’s not a problem on the Storm and the ability to use eReader allows me to use the Storm as my only phone if desired.

That’s about it for now, I’ll keep updating as time goes by.  The BlackBerry Storm is a nice phone, even if it’s been panned in the press and the blogosphere.  I’m not running into any glaring deficiencies with daily use and I’m pretty happy with the phone in general.

  1. Interesting.

    I’m a Verizon user, still stuck on my Pearl. It’s hard not to have the Storm on my short list of possible next phone, because the options for Verizon users are so few. I have a pretty big aversion to touch screened phones, though.

    I’ll be interested to here your thoughts on the phone after long term use. From what I’ve heard, people seem to hit a wall with this device, once the newness has worn off.

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  2. Thanks for the interesting read – looking forward to future updates. My company is getting me a new Verizon phone soon, and the Storm is an option. Everyone at my company uses a Curve or 8830, but I like new technology. Does anybody know if the Bold will be coming to Verizon this year?

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  3. I had one for a few weeks. As a Sprint customer, I wanted to test it out before porting my number. I really liked the phone also – the display blows the iPhone away, IMO and I also liked the click feature due to the reason JK mentioned about accidentally hitting the iPhone’s screen. Typing was pretty easy to pick up and I also liked the SureType kb – got pretty fast on it. However, my problem was call quality. People said I sounded “muffled” and the ear piece was crappy/crackly. BT worked fine, but I don’t use BT all the time. I decided to take it back and wait a bit for improvements. One thing I also want to see is how the screen/clicking holds up after at least 6 months. The screen “floats” and there are already people complaining about dust under the screen. Also – VZW would cost me about $50/mo more than my plan on Sprint, so I am waiting on the Pre, the RIM “Niagara” (the “Bold” for CDMA) and then the new HTC WM devices before I consider the Storm again.

    JK – Please keep us udated and try Opera Mini too. Still has the hyperlink-launch-without-clicking problem, but I really liked it.

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  4. James,
    Please clarify about your email on the storm. When you talked about the email notification, I figure you meant the built-in BB mail app. But then you talked about using the Gmail app. Does the Gmail app do something special on a Blackberry? Just curious.

    Tax Man

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  5. Tax Man, the Blackberry GMail app has a setting that tells the program to notify you when you have new mail. It works just like the BB mail app in this regard.

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  6. James, nice write-up. I’ve had the Storm for a few months now and really like it. It definitely sh*t the bed with the debut software, but since then it’s been a reliable and entertaining smartphone. I’d still put the iPhone, Bold, E71, and TouchPro ahead of it though.

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  7. Nice writeup.

    I think I need to download the new firmware. So many small things I hope it improves. Even Twitterberry won’t go landscape for me.

    I have been using the Storm since inception and here are my thoughts in a blog: http://budurl.com/storm

    And the Bold: http://budurl.com/BoldCloud

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  8. Thank you for doing this review. My buddy has one and I was disappointed with the OS’s lag.

    I will have to tell him about the new update.

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  9. Nice to hear so many good things after a long time about Storm….otherwise everybody from new york times to any local hoi poloi was just telling me about its drawbacks.

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  10. Thanks for the update. Have you used the camera or MP3 player yet?

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