I am in the market for a new Blackberry and have been holding off a making a purchase because I wanted to wait for the new Verizon Wireless BB Storm. This weekend I had the opportunity to try out the Storm and Bold in rapid succession. As a reminder, the Storm is Verizon’s new touchscreen Blackberry that looks like the iPhone. The Bold is a traditional BB device that includes a complete keyboard.
I am a frequent Blackberry user and am a huge fan of these products. I use the device as both my primary cellphone and email device. For me, email is the killer app and is equally important as phone functionality. This is the big reason why I am not considering an iPhone because I do not like their email implementation and keyboard.
When comparing the two Blackberries, the good news is that they both provide very robust email support. Thus the Storm is much better at email than the iPhone. However, the biggest difference between the Bold and Storm is the lack of a physical keyboard on the latter.
Reviewers have suggested that the Surepress technology in the Storm would replicate the typing experience of physical keyboard. With Surepress, the screen is one big button and typing requires you to first put your finger over the letter and then push the screen. This is different from the iPhone where no pushing is required. I thought that this was a brilliant design by RIM and was curious to see how it worked in practice.
Well, in my brief experience with the device, I have to say that I was disappointed. It was immediately clear to me that I would not be able to type nearly as fast or as accurately on the Storm as I can on my current BB or the Bold. The problem is that is that there is no tactile feel to the keys on the Storm and so it is difficult to find the right letter without looking. Making matters worse, I found that the Storm did not seem to correctly recognize the letter I was touching. My thumb would be over the W, but the Q would be highlighted. It felt like the device needed to be calibrated, but I found not option to do so.
Finally, I also found Surepress to be a bit inconsistent. The screen click affect was noticeably different depending on the letter you were trying to press. For example the A (at the edge of the screen) was much more difficult to click than say the G (in the middle of the screen). The other issue is that the screen is one big button which limits the speed of typing. With my current BB and the Bold, each key is a separate button and so while you are releasing one key you can be simultaneously pushing the next. Since Surepress has only one button (under the screen), you have to press and fully release the screen before you can type the next letter. Both of these issues added to the difficulty of typing in my experience.
In summary, the Storm look is a very cool phone, but it is not without its trade offs. It offers a very large and high quality screen which is great for multimedia and web browsing, but it is slower and less accurate in typing than physical keyboard devices. The Bold has an equally good (although much smaller) screen and provides a less robust web browsing experience. However, it provides a try QWERTY keyboard and the fatest text input.
For me, email is a priority with my BB device. I am willing trade off multimedia functionality for a more efficient keyboard and so the Bold is no-brainer. You need to weigh the priorities and decide which platform makes the most sense for you. However, you should consider each option carefully before making a purchase.