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 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.
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.