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RIM Vodafone BlackBerry Storm

Attempts to take on iPhone, fails...

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Review RIM’s first BlackBerry to feature a touchscreen has been eagerly awaited for some time now, and after all the hype, you’d have thought it would have made a much better job of it.

Now don’t get us wrong, the Storm’s not a terrible phone by any means, and there are parts of it that are very impressive, but RIM and Vodafone have certainly missed out on the chance to be in the running as the next iPhone killer, if only because, despite the long lead-up, the phone feels like it was rushed to market.

BlackBerry Storm

RIM's BlackBerry Storm: feels different

But first, the good stuff. A little late to the touchy-feely party it may be, but the Storm is no me-too product because RIM has managed to put a new spin on capacitive touchscreens. It feels different. Not the feel of plastic against skin, but when you press it, there’s a much more tactile reaction from the SurePress touchscreen than you get with other phones - the whole screen moves.

This is because it floats a fraction of a millimetre above the phone’s sensor pad and gives a similar impression to clicking with a mouse. It’s disconcerting at first and feels like something might be loose, but with regular use the benefits become clear. The problem common to most of today’s touchscreens is the accidental activation of buttons as you try to scroll around the screen. That doesn’t happen with the Storm.

BlackBerry Storm

The accelerometer will flip the screen to portrait or landscape as you choose

But while this is a welcome innovation, it has its drawbacks, most noticeably when you’re typing. There’s a choice of RIM’s own SureType and multi-tap keyboards in portrait mode, or a full Qwerty keyboard in landscape mode, but entering text feels slower than with standard BlackBerry keyboards because the screen requires a distinct click to register a keystroke. This is great for preventing accidental presses, but we found it frustrating to try to write this way.

Given that BlackBerry’s USP has always been the ease it brings to email on the move – not just sending and receiving but creating, with the range of keypads available - this is the first BlackBerry we’ve tried that has disappointed us. And, odd for such an email-centric devices, the @ symbol doesn’t appear on the keyboard – you’ll need to access it through the Symbols menu.

Cut and paste is reassuringly easy, though – just highlight a stretch of text by tapping your thumbs at each end and use the menu button to cut, copy, or paste it elsewhere. You can even paste into different documents. So it certainly beats the iPhone here.

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