The long awaited touchscreen Blackberry Storm was released today to long lines and sold out inventory. It seems that the launch was a bit botched since a last minute problem was identified which limited the amount of phones available for sale. As the title says, the reviews of the phone were mediocre. Crackberry.com has a complete list of reviews. It is ironic, I was ready to go out and stand in line to get one today and decided to hold off due to the questionable reviews. In short there are two issues which are holding me back:
The general feedback on the phone is that the performance is not as it should. The firmware appears to be very slow. One of the most common complaints is the orientation changing very slowly when rotating the phone and slow phone performance in general. The good news is that this is a firmware issue and should be fixed in a future release. (The rumor is that Verizon will be releasing two new firmware revisions in the next couple of weeks.)
Surepress works by having the entire screen be one button. The problem is that this means that it can be hard to rapidly type. The problem is that when you type one letter, you cannot type another until the screen has been fully released. Compare this to a standard QWERTY BB where you can simultaneously press multiple keys to accelerate typing. The other complaint I have heard is that it is harder to press on the letters that are located close to the edge of the screen due to the distance from the button mechanism. These problems are related to the Storm hardware and will be impossible to remedy with a firmware update; however, I have not experienced these problems first hand and so cannot validate how serious they are.
I am confident that RIM will resolve the first issue above, but feel no need to go out and buy the phone until they release a much improved firmware revision. I have no interest in paying $200 to be a firmware beta tester.
The second point is a bit more troubling and relates to the hardware design. My feeling is that the only way to truly evaluate the issue is try out the phone. I originally was going to purchase the phone and then return it if I did not like it until I found out that the "guarantee" is not free. Verizon will not reimburse the $35 activation fee. My new plan is to visit a Verizon store and play with the phone for a few minutes there,
The good news is that there are now two very good Blackberry options out there. The Storm as described above and the Bold which is a traditional QWERTY model. The Bold has gotten stellar reviews and so is also a great option although it has a much smaller screen and the benefit of a full keyboard. I am undecided on the Storm/Bold question and am currently leaning towards the Bold because of issue 2.