The Storm outperforms most BlackBerrys with its crisp, innovative touch-button screen. Boasting a 3.2 megapixel auto-focus still and video camera, the Storm impresses by packing numerous features into its sleek and sturdy form-factor.
The Storm is a striking device. From the second you lay eyes on it, it’s clear that a lot of time and care went into crafting this phone. The majority of the front panel is display, a large 3.25-inch (480 x 360) touchscreen sitting just shy of flush with a silver bezel that runs around the sides, top, and bottom of the device. The bands seem to be plastic, not metal, and trace the outline of the moderately thick (0.55-inch) phone, looping around the back, while the rest of the surface is a high gloss, piano black plastic.
The touchscreen is where most of the attention on this phone will be focused, and rightfully so. Unlike similarly stacked competitors. the Storm doesn’t just boast a capacitive touch display, it also utilizes a completely unique "click" technology called SurePress which actually allows you to click the screen down like a mouse button. The purpose of this technology, ostensibly, is to provide two aspects to touch screens which are currently lacking in most devices: the ability to "hover" without selecting or moving an on-screen element, and the physical sensation of "clicking" when you type or navigate.
There is a lot to like about this device, including its sharp display, an auto-focus 3.2 megapixel camera, and applications like Visual Voicemail, but there are still some glaring problems. Even after updating its operating system with Verizon’s new patch, there is still lag present in a lot of applications which hinders the phone’s functionality in many areas. And the lack of Wi-Fi and QWERTY keyboard, and unrelenting fingerprints detract from the innovative hardware.
Verizon’s CDMA call quality on the Storm is consistent and good. It often connects calls faster than ones I make over AT&T’s network, though there is a bit of delay answering calls via the touchscreen as compared to hitting the talk button on the phone itself.
When on a call, the speaker, mute, flash, and add participant features appear as buttons on the screen by default. Although they’re conveniently placed, they’re easy to hit by accident if you’re trying to balance the phone on your shoulder.
When using the browser, it’s easy to display a page at a comfortable zoom level in landscape mode. You can navigate the page by dragging your fingers across the screen. Resting your fingers on hypertext will highlight the link, and you can select it by pressing in the screen. The ease of navigation for the Storm showcases the best browsing experience I’ve seen on a BlackBerry, and is better than what I’ve experienced on most other smartphones.
The Storm’s list of applications and messaging services is another testament to its consumer-centric orientation. Included with this smartphone is Flickr, Facebook, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, Windows Live Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger, and BlackBerry Messenger.
The camera is one of Storm’s strongest assets. In general, picture quality was excellent on the camera, which offers a healthy 3.2-megapixel resolution. The only problem we had — and it was a big one — was the fact that it took ages to focus and snap a shot. There were numerous times when trying to photograph something that we lost the shot because of the length of time it took the camera to kick in. In broad daylight, things fared a slight bit better, but when using the flash, it was pretty hard to get good results. This seems like something that could take a simple software tweak to fix — we know the camera looks nice, we just need it to take photos faster. A lot faster.