Dealership Communication Tools

Review on the Verizon Blackberry Storm 9530

First off, sorry for disappearing from Dealer Refresh again – I was on another vacation….rough life, I know.  I just got back Monday morning and thought I’d do a quick review on the Storm since it has now gone through its first firmware upgrade, and I’ve got some significant mileage on it.

There is a Verizon store about a mile from my house and I have to pass it to get to work, so I stopped by late on the release date to check it out.  When I got there I found out I could grab a spot to get the phone on the second shipment of the day, so I bit.  Later that day I got a call to drop everything and get to the store.  After 3 unsuccessful attempts to get it programmed (Verizon’s systems crashed numerous times) we finally got it right.

The Storm is a very well constructed phone.  It has a weight to it that gives it the same kind of feel you get from a German car – just solid.  When you turn the screen on, it is beautiful.  There is so much screen real estate you almost get lost.  It is filled with all the Blackberry goodness of intuitive navigation and simple buttons to move through apps easily.

Before the new firmware update, it was a little slow to respond to things and I found myself hitting buttons twice because I didn’t think it was responding.  Today it is much better.

The keyboard takes a lot of getting used to.  Everyday I get better, but it will never be the same as the keyboard on the Curve or Bold.  I like it much more than the keyboard on the iPhone though.  There are 3 keyboard options:  regular QWERTY, double-lettered SureType like the Pearl, and a numeric keyboard much like any regular phone.  I find myself using the SureType keyboard more than anything else.  I only use the QWERTY one if I need to type a word the SureType (fills in the words for you) doesn’t like – usually cuss words (for emphasis of course).  SureType has a tendency to replace a certain word with “ducking” every time and that is *ducking* annoying!

Keyboard Tip: grab a business card and cut in 3 equal pieces.  Put one piece between the battery and the battery cover to decrease the travel space on the push-down part of the touch screen.  This will allow you to type much faster.  Continue to add pieces of the business card until you’re satisfied or the back cover won’t close.

The phone is plenty loud – louder than the Curve and much better than the older Blackberry 8703e.  BlueTooth is fantastic over an earpiece or through the car.  Using BlueTooth sucks the battery out over a day of use, but when the BlueTooth is not on the battery lasts for days with heavy use.  My biggest gripe with the phone is that there are 4 big buttons present:  Speaker, Mute, Add Participant, and Flash.  Because this is a touch screen you either have to pull up the numeric pad or be very careful not to rest your face on the screen or you’re going to hit one of those buttons.  My second biggest gripe with the phone is that you have to hit the call button twice in order to get to the phone – it is just annoying.  When you hit the phone button it takes you straight to your contacts which is good for me about 40% of the time, but I also call people back about 40% of the time too and have to shift over, or the other 20% of the time I’m actually dialing a number.  I can’t tell you where I’d prefer the phone default to.

Where the Storm rocks is online.  I have yet to find a website I can’t visit in its full splendor.  There are 3 browser settings that tell websites what type of device you are:  Blackberry, Internet Explorer, or Firefox.  If you find a website isn’t loading quickly or is coming up in the mobile format, it is simple enough to flip between one of those three and hit refresh – works like a charm!  The Verizon 3G network is fast.  Yes, I would like Wi-Fi, but I’m not that impatient.  I find my texts, emails, voicemails and any other messages coming to and from the Storm are happening much, much faster than on any other Blackberry I’ve ever owned.

When on a call, you cannot send and receive emails, but you can send and receive texts.  I find this to be a blessing and a curse all in one.  I’m too much of a multitasker to pay attention to anything.  I’m always doing 3 or 4 things at the same time and think that not being able to respond to emails in a call helps me pay better attention (my girlfriend appreciates that), but there sure are a lot of boring business calls during the day where I’d love to be saying “uh huh” …. “yeah” ….”gotcha” ….”uh huh” while getting some emails done.

It works fantastically while roaming – even in Mexico….except in Mexican Customs where I really needed it to work (don’t ask).  I have yet to find a bad spot with this phone.

All in all, the Storm is a great phone.  I’m not convinced it is “the” phone and my search will continue one day.  I’m looking forward to the new Curve, but I certainly will not be getting one on launch day.  If you’re a heavy Blackberry user with little patience you will hate the communications side of the Storm, but if you need to visit heavy websites on the go, you’ll love it.  So I’m split because I need to do both.

Some of the things I didn’t cover, but am happy to answer in comments below:

  • Visual Voicemail
    Voice Dialing
    Instant Messaging
    Highlighting Text
    3 MP Camera
    Video Camera
    Other Applications
Who knew an argument with Jeff Kershner, in 2005, would lead to Alex becoming a partner with him on DealerRefresh. Where will the next argument take ...
Alex, thanks for the review. I'm sort of glad that the Storm didn't come on T-mobile yet. Knowing me, I would have been first in line for it. Your review seems consistent with other I have read. Though you are the only one to offer the business card tid bit!

Thanks for the review!!
The online aspect is what has my attention on phones these days. The Storm sounds great.

I am a Spring customer on the World Edition. I bought it for the keyboard but the browser bugs me. I also desire a camera.

I take it the keyboard is 100% touch screen on the Storm? I am not familiar with that style.


I am an avid follower, so I can't take credit for the business cards. I did hear that is a good modification for any touch screen phone and some with keyboards.


Yes, it is completely touch screen, but the screen depresses so you have some feedback. It definitely helps! Just stop by a Verizon store or Best Buy to test it out.
Nice work Alex! I think we both stole that tip from the Crackberry Forums. ;) Love the cardboard click screen mod.

Honestly, I've had this device since the first day and I think its a revolutionary leap forward. The OS is *at least* 6 months to a year behind the hardware. Many people have complained and there have been some abysmal reviews.

The problem is that too many people want it to be like the iPhone-which is a Multi-media toy. Also the original OS that shipped (.65)just sucked. Major accelerometer lag, and memory leak. With the lastest OS from Bell Mobility(.76)everything is much better.

The 9530 is a pure business device with superb multi-media functionality mixed in. I have been tweaking it for a good while and have optimized it as well as the current OS will allow. I recently offered a post which turned into a lengthy thread on the Crackberry Storm forums titled "Dramatically Improve Your Storm in a Few Simple Steps". Its worthy of a read as there are a lot of useful tips from the entire community thrown in on optimizing the device. Feel free to hit me up to discuss improving it more.

Check out the thread here.

And Jeff, you should definitely buy the device when it comes out for T-Mobile.(And I can tell you how to get it to run on T-Mobile tomorrow if you want..;)

Happy Holidays to All!

I've been through your thread and have implemented most of the changes you suggested - there is a noticeable difference. I've also been playing with the memory some more based off this thread:

And also working on the keyboard speed based on this thread:

All good stuff! Thanks again!
come on sprint lets move forward with something new and the instinct is not it.
I was disappointed when I read no wi-fi on the storm....whats up with that?
J don't really need WiFi with VZ's fat EVDORevA pipe. Assuming you live in an area where their network is strong. :)

I've heard thru the grapevine it's on the hardware but VZ has disabled it like usual. Maybe a software update in the future will enable? BTW...the next software up date .83 is "loose in the wild". We'll all have it soon enough.

The New Leaked OS is here:

Great review. It looks like a great phone. I am usually crazy with getting the hottest phone. I do love my iphone though. If and when I get bored with it, I will most likely convert to a blackberry.
The touch screen going to mute bothers me no more thanks to a FREE app that called TalkLock that you can download here:

I downloaded and and couldn't figure out where it went. It didn't go to the download folder like its supposed to. It asked if it could access my phone when I downloaded it. Since I said, Yes, it automatically installed itself in the background. First call I got, no more cheek mute!
  • J
  • April 21, 2009
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