BlackBerry Storm 9500 review: BlackBerry Storm 9500

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Typical Price: $899.00
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Touchscreen and SurePress tech. Excellent video codec recognition. 3.5mm headphone socket. Decent battery life. BlackBerry's excellent business functionality.

The Bad No Wi-Fi. Some performance lag. Could use more than 1GB internal storage.

The Bottom Line The Storm is a successful experiment and a decent smartphone. Those who take to the clickable touchscreen will love its ease of use and the excellent range of productivity tools on-board.

7.9 Overall

Design
Somewhere between the aesthetics of the BlackBerry Bold and the iPhone 3G you'll find the chic BlackBerry Storm. The large, colourful screen lends itself to comparison with Apple's wunderkind, but the details of the design are undeniably BlackBerry.

The Storm is sexy: a combination of glossy piano-black and stainless steel line the display, with a faux brushed metal matte-black plastic battery cover. External keys on the edges are also in steel and include a volume rocker and a dedicated camera shutter button. The Storm features a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top-right side of the phone, as all self-respecting multimedia mobiles should.

To complement the touchscreen input, the Storm also sports a familiar quartet of mechanical keys below the screen, the same calling keys and BlackBerry context-sensitive menu button we've seen on all recent release BlackBerry handsets.

Touchscreen
A BlackBerry with a touchscreen may seem like a Porsche with wings — as though the two don't quite go together — but trust us; this is a cool step forward for the BlackBerry family. It seems that BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM) anticipated a reticence to touchscreens from its loyal fans so it developed a depress-able screen and software it calls SurePress.

The touchscreen uses the same capacitive touchscreen technology as the iPhone and it registers contact with the surface as accurately. Unlike the iPhone, contact with the screen will only highlight a selection, not execute one. Opening a program requires you to touch the screen then press gently — this is SurePress in action. While this may seem like extra effort, it actually acts as a second chance. Rather than regularly opening and closing programs by mistake, or mistyping letters in an email, you have that split second to realise you've hit the wrong key before pressing on the screen.

Features
On paper the Storm is a classic BlackBerry. It puts in something new, the touchscreen, but takes something away: in this case that's Wi-Fi. When you consider that the Storm was developed in partnership with phone carriers Vodafone and Verizon in the US, it makes sense that the Storm wouldn't feature hardware capable of circumventing the carriers ability to make money off data services. Still, for consumers this is a bit of a blow.

For chewing through said data, the Storm features HSDPA network support and browses the web through the same BlackBerry browser we find in the Bold, optimised for touchscreen input, of course. The Storm also includes Bluetooth for pairing to hands-free headsets.

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