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BlackBerry phones Reviews
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Vodafone BlackBerry Storm 9500 review

Free handest; from £35 per month on 24-month contract

Manufacturer: RIM (BlackBerry)

Our Rating: We rate this 4.5 out of 5

The BlackBerry Storm 9500 is something of a departure for RIM, and not just because it's the first touchscreen BlackBerry

The BlackBerry Storm 9500 is something of a departure for RIM, and not just because it's the first touchscreen BlackBerry. It's also a handset that has been jointly designed by its customers - the mobile phone operators Verizon and Vodafone.

Unlike some phones, which launch initially on one mobile phone network but are later rolled out and offered by several, the BlackBerry Storm 9500 is completely tied in to these two carriers. You can buy the Storm through Phones4U in the UK, but the only network you can buy it on will be Vodafone.

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In some ways, this makes it easier for us to assess the BlackBerry Storm 9500's performance. Aside from the effectiveness of its touchscreen, it will live or die based on its 3G mobile connectivity. Vodafone's is very good, as we found when testing its over the air music downloads and when accessing the web.

The 158g BlackBerry Storm 9500 is physically larger and heavier than other BlackBerry phones. It has a brushed aluminium back with a rubber surround and a 75mm-deep transmissive screen that dominates its front. The usable area measures 80mm diagonally (61mm deep and 49mm wide). By comparison, the iPhone's touch-sensitive area is 81mm diagonally (64mm deep x 49mm wide) and it weighs 144g.

Unlike other phones, the BlackBerry Storm 9500's touchscreen is not just touchable but clickable, so to select an option or a specific area of a web page, you press down firmly. Once you get used to pressing a bit harder than you would on other touchscreen devices, it becomes quite satisfying, but we did have to train ourselves to apply that extra pressure.

The BlackBerry Storm 9500's onscreen icons are the large smart ones introduced on the BlackBerry Bold and are the ideal size for selecting with a thumb or finger. Typing on the BlackBerry Storm 9500 is wholly different experience than on previous BlackBerry smartphones, though.

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BlackBerry Storm 9500 Expert Verdict »
BlackBerry Storm 9500 Scores 7.3 out of 10 based on 432 reviews
Quad-band GSM, 3G, HSDPA smartphone
480x360-pixel transmissive touchscreen (80mm diagonally or 75mm x 49 mm)
3.2Mp camera, flash, 2x incremental zoom
video recorder
voice recorder
Bluetooth v2
BlackBerry Enterprise for Microsoft Exchancge
Lotus Domino
Novell Groupwise and other email clients
email, MMS, SMS, calendar, clock, task list, voice dialling/voice recorder
BlackBerry media player/manager, Vodafone Music downloads
MP3 ringtones
password keeper
AES secure encryption
BlackBerry Maps
Vodafone Telmap Find&Go (six month subscription)
3.5mm headphone jack
mini USB port
1GB onboard memory
128MB flash memory
microSDHC slot
dimensions: 62x113x14mm
weight: 158g
15 days standby
5.5 hours standby
  • Build Quality: We give this item 8 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Overall: We give this item 9 of 10 overall

While the BlackBerry Storm 9500 is by no means the perfect smartphone, there are many aspects of it we admire. The clickable touchscreen works very well – we liked the fact you need to apply definite pressure to initiate a command or enter a character. It also helps distinguish this handset from the expanding pack of touchscreen devices out there. The web browsing experience is vastly improved too; for the first time, you can confidently enter a web address and view it properly, as its designers intended, and can navigate its structure as you would if accessing it from a PC. The contact management and synchronisation tools are rock solid, as we've come to expect, and we can't fault the BlackBerry Storm's phone features either. In these two respects, it shows up the iPhone's shortcomings as a straight communication handset. Even so, we think the iPhone has the edge when it comes to touch-sensitive text entry functions. In the end, which device you choose will probably come down to whether you want a business smartphone with some compelling entertainment features and a strong web browser, or a consumer gadget that serves up the web and email alongside iTunes content.

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