Review: BlackBerry Storm -- better for business than the iPhone?

BlackBerry's Storm may be an iPhone wannabe, but it's a powerful smart phone that will be particularly attractive to business users.

Like the iPhone, if you turn the Storm 90 degrees, it switches between portrait and landscape modes.

Like the iPhone, if you turn the Storm 90 degrees, it switches between portrait and landscape modes.

Connection pros and cons

The Storm's ability to work on cellular networks around the world is a huge plus, particularly for business travelers. However, it doesn't support Wi-Fi, which could be a deal-breaker for some users. After all, cellular coverage isn't available everywhere and is often spotty indoors, where Wi-Fi is more common.

Also, Wi-Fi is typically faster than 3G service, so even if you're just sitting in a coffee shop browsing the Web, the lack of Wi-Fi will slow you down. Plainly put, it was a bad decision by Verizon Wireless and RIM to not include Wi-Fi.

My reaction to its Web browsing capabilities was decidedly mixed. The Storm's browser does a much better job of handling Web pages, particularly complicated Web pages, than previous BlackBerries. But it still doesn't get it quite right when rendering pages not optimized for small screens.

Like a lot of smart phone browsers, BlackBerries previously stacked multiple elements such as frames one on top of the other. It no longer does that, but it still treats each element separately. So, for instance, a page with a frame on the left containing a site index is initially laid out on the screen correctly in relation to the larger frame to the right that holds the bulk of the page's content. However, you can horizontally and vertically scroll both of those elements independently. This means that the page may look fine at first, but after a bit of use, the independent navigation can create a disorganized-looking mess.

Finally, a few words about voice calling, which gets short shrift these days in smart phone reviews (we do still use these devices to make phone calls, right?). I found the Storm's sound quality to be quite clear, perhaps because of the effectiveness of the built-in noise-canceling capabilities. The device includes voice commands for dialing and support for standard calling features like speed dialing and conference calling.

More media

The BlackBerry Storm is more media-centric than previous BlackBerries. In fact, one way in which it is clearly superior to the iPhone is that it has a 3.2-megapixel camera that records video, while the Apple device has a 2-megapixel camera that doesn't.

I found playback of all media to be quite good. I still have a slight bias toward the iPhone's music playback quality, but the Storm provided bright and nicely textured sound. It supports common audio formats such as WMA, MP3 and AAC, although it doesn't support any of those formats with digital rights management (DRM) attached. That means you can't listen to DRM'd music you bought on iTunes or may have downloaded from a music subscription service such as Napster.

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David Haskin

Computerworld
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