Friday, March 18, 2011

BlackBerry Storm 9550 : Specs | Price | Reviews | Test

BlackBerry Storm 9550 : Specs | Price | Reviews | TestThe new BlackBerry Storm 2 9550 by Verizon is shaping up to be. sorry it was the number 3 selling smartphone in North America. It will get much better reviews than the Storm 1 because of the software improvements. Reviews. See what the industry's saying about BlackBerry® Storm™ smartphones. Last Year when Research In Motion (RIM) launched the original BlackBerry Storm, it was their first handset to feature a touch screen (a clickable one at that). Theoretically, it had everything to be successful and was dubbed as the iPhone killer.

But it became clear that this attempt fell short: An aging OS, lack of Wi-Fi and the utter failure of the SureType technology (yes, the one that made the screen even more cumbersome to use) .The bugs and other software issues that riddled the BlackBerry Storm were solved thanks to subsequent updates. But the damage was done. 

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BlackBerry Storm 9550 Reviews

Neither did it ‘kill’ the iPhone nor was able to please BlackBerry fans. A year later, RIM decided to fix it by redoing the screen and introducing newer Piezo technology to prevent those accidental clicks. It does address most of those things we criticised about the earlier Storm. It is faster, more stable and more accurate while typing. Wi-Fi connectivity is present and the on-board memory has been doubled. In all, this certainly is an improvement over its predecessor. However, it still lags in the areas of Web browsing and faces stiff competition from Samsung Omnia and Motorola Droid. But more importantly will it manage to wash away the bad memories and gain back support from BlackBerry lovers, read the review to find out. One Comment/Review on “Blackberry Storm 2 9550 Smartphone Technical Specifications”.

BlackBerry Storm 9550 : Specs | Price | Reviews | Test



When you first hold the Storm 2, you would mistake it for the earlier model. Visually, there is not much of a difference. The overall feel of the device is very much the same. Apart from the slightly sleeker design and the newer navigation buttons, it is identical to its predecessor.  That is a good thing, because the device feels well built. But what caught our attention is the weight of the device. The Storm2 9950 has dimensions of 112.5 x 62 x 13.9 mm and weighs 5 grams more than the predecessor Storm. Although by sheer dimensions it does not seem so, the Storm 2 is noticeably bulkier than many keyboards-less phones. Not the kind of phone you can carry in a tight jeans pocket. The battery door latch mechanism, similar to the one found on the 8520 is welcome. The speaker has moved from the back of the bottom, thus making it easier while you lay down the device.


The physical controls are easy to reach and there are handy shortcuts for silent mode and volume. It is wide enough to avoid that cramped feeling one associates with touch screen keyboards. The keys are made of rubber instead of silver (another thing taken cue from the 8520). The largest design difference one would notice is the functional keys present below the screen.  The original Storm had four physical buttons each separated. This time, all these are incorporated right into the screen. The Piezo electric effect is working as we had no problems whatsoever this time. RIM has managed to combine Piezo and capacitive technology in a way that the screen responds only when touched with bare skin.  The BlackBerry storm 2 9550 has an upside when it comes to expansion as it has a removable battery and a microSDHC slot.

Display and the new SurePress technology:

The display, measuring at 3.25 inches with a half VGA (360 x 480) resolution is simply gorgeous. The touch screen also features a built in accelerometer and a proximity sensor that turns off the touch screen when on a phone call to prevent accidental mispresses. But did not the early Storm have the same dimensions? Yes.  The changes made here are pretty subtle; Subtle enough not to be noticeable.  While RIM still calls the touch screen technology of the Storm2 as SurePress, its implementation is entirely different from that of the Storm. The newer SurePress technology makes it easier to click and with multiple input sensors, typing is even more accurate. The screen actually gives an impulse that simulates the feel of a click. Thus, the Storm 9550 does a better job of replicating the feel of an actual keyboard.


The full QWERTY Keyboard can be used in both portrait and landscape mode and the phone offer auto-correction. And also, the display does not move like it did earlier. The Piezo electric system works far more efficiently as it requires less conscious effort to use. It also allows for key rollover and faster typing. If you would want to capitalize a letter, all you need to do is press the Shift button while typing.  In a regular message, we had to manually type only a few words, which in a way, is better than the original.  While it does take time to get used to actually pushing down to invoke most actions, this necessity involves slowing down of every task on the phone. Typing is relatively slow as one still cannot truly move to the next key before the screen is back into position. This slowdown is a hindrance; it ruins the main advantage of a touch screen being intuitive.  One is always left guessing the phone’s response to one’s behaviour.  While this new technology sets BlackBerry apart, it would take some time to get used to it.


An x.0 release indicates reworking of a program in a major way.  It signals a major shift in how things work.  The same can be held true about the new BlackBerry OS 5.0 in a few areas. Inertial (momentum based, that is) scrolling and threaded text messaging are finally supported. These were much necessary additions in a business centric phone such as the BlackBerry.  Auto-correction is also included. It does not work as well as Apple’s or HTC’s but is still an appreciative effort. The Blackberry 9550 also supports multi touch gestures for copy and pasting by placing a finger at one end to cut/copy and the other at another end to paste. The menu animations are slick and the scrolling smooth. There was little time lag making it the zippiest interface ever.

BlackBerry Storm 9550 : Specs | Price | Reviews | Test


Connectivity and Data:

The Storm 9550 is a global device having partners in Europe. The phone is CDMA focused but also supports GSM and EDGE.  The Storm2 also supports Wi-Fi which is welcome. But Wi-Fi does not help much; it only provides a more reliable connection and saves images on 3G fees.  Surfing over Wi-Fi is not really quick as the browser loads all the data and images before displaying unlike the iPhone or HTC Hero where one can start reading and scrolling before the page loads. It also supports Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR and the HSP, HSF, BAP, SPP, A2DP/AVCRP and DUN profiles.


Recording video and Photography on the 9550 have remained virtually unchanged. The 3.2 mega pixel camera performed better than the original one. Photos taken by it looked sharp even on a 20 inch desktop monitor and that justifies the one second taken for the auto focus to kick in before the shutter is pressed. The level of detail was impressive even in indoor lighting. But occasionally, the images had some graining to them. One would have to wait for about 3 seconds to take another shot and that is a tolerable wait. The interface has been reworked slightly and the entire image is displayed on screen unlike the Storm when the bottom was cut off with some controls. There are BlackBerry applications that allow you to upload these pictures to Facebook, Flickr or other services.

Video clip footage looked good when played back to full screen on PC. Moving objects looked a bit blurry, but the overall 480 x 352 resolution footage was good enough.

BlackBerry App World:

BlackBerry App World gives users access to over four thousand applications for their phone. While they are more than enough, it is little when compared to over 10000 apps for the Android market and 85000 for the iPhone App store.  There are apps for Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Docs to Go and even Brick Breaker. These apps need to be downloaded on first use and then they are available as shortcuts on the phone. The American Service Provider Verizon has applications such as VZ Navigator, City ID and Visual Voicemail pre- installed. All of these apps have a monthly fee if the user installs them.  Eerily, one needs to have a PayPal account to buy the premium apps.  The best part of the BlackBerry apps is how well they are integrated into the rest of the phone. For example, after downloading the Facebook app, there is an option to upload photos to your profile from the picture library.


The Blackberry Storm2 9550 Smartphone is preloaded with the VZ Navigator that was able to create a route between London and Edinburgh in about 15 seconds. We liked the way it showed traffic along the way. Not only can the app perform local searches, but do them also along the way.  The turn to turn directions were loud and there was a significant difference in volume between the instructions and the specific street and locality names.


There have been upgrades in the SMS application; the most notable of those is the threaded text messaging.  So, it becomes easier to follow a conversation that was not conducted through e-mail. A greater sense of control is provided. You can set notifications to repeat for each type of message (SMS, email etc.) for individual contacts. There are more smileys too. The Storm2 9550 features all forms of messaging such as SMS, MMS, and personal email over BIS and BES, IM clients such as GoogleTalk and AIM. They have certainly made better to use thanks to the better keyboard.

Web Browser:

The Web Browser has been reworked to give faster loading times. The earlier Storm took about 50 seconds to load the site of the New York Times while the Storm2 took just 20 seconds. While it was decent enough in the earlier releases, the newer one is better at rendering sites that use AJAX. Even refinements in the touch screen benefits web browsing. Despite more RAM and a fast processor, some tasks feel slow. You still cannot use pinch gestures for zooming as on other phones neither can you open new tabs while browsing. While the overall surfing experience is good, it would be better if RIM integrates a WebKit based browser.


Multimedia is a segment where the 9550 excels. It has its own media player that has now been broken up and is now visualized as a folder with each component as an independent application. There is 2GB built in memory and a 16GB micro SDHC slot for all its music, pictures and video.  The media player supports MP3, WMA, WMA ProPlus, AAC, AAC+ and eAAC+ formats. One can buy tunes online using V Cast Music with Rhapsody.  A cheaper alternative is transferring tracks from a PC. While downloading songs over Wi-Fi is slow, transferring non DRM tunes from a PC to the Storm2 with the BlackBerry Media Sync program is easy.  It is faster to scroll through photos on the Storm2 than its predecessor. The video looks great and the interface is clean. The storm 2 9550 phone supports MPEG4 and WMV video files for playback.


There is nothing new here. Like always, things are simple and straightforward. It has the capacity to store virtually unlimited amount of contacts and with each contact being able to hold 3 email addresses, 2 work phone numbers, 2 home numbers, a mobile, pager, fax and a BlackBerry PIN number. You can store home and work address as well as birthday dates. These contacts have user definable contacts and each entry can have a custom picture and a ringer.  Lives up to the expectations of a true Business phone, doesn’t it? Like its earlier version, the home screen contact search is missing. While the keyboard is accessible in the full menu, you cannot search the contacts by name or number.  Voice dialling is excellent and is handled by pre-programming the left soft key.

The Calendar is another robust feature. It can be managed either on the phone or a PC. Using the BlackBerry Enterprise Server you can remotely manage and sync it wirelessly.  You can also create appointments and options such as reminder and recurrence are present as well. One can also mark appointments private for extra security. Basic PIM tasks such as Memo Pad and Tasks along with a simple calculator are also available.

BlackBerry Storm 9550 : Specs | Price | Reviews | Test


Call Quality:

We tested the dual mode (CDMA and GSM) RIM BlackBerry Storm and the call quality was good. The audio and voice quality had minimal background noise.  Neither did we experience any dropped calls nor had a problem using an automated voice system. However our callers reported that the voice sounded distorted and activating speakerphone made our voice sound muffed. On the contrary, speakerphone calls sounded clear and loud.  Pairing up using Bluetooth was easy.

The 9550 uses the same processor as the Storm but with increased memory and better software, the phone felt better to use.  The accelerometer was able to change as soon as we rotated the phone. We had no problems whatsoever using applications as we did not encounter any of the performance issues that plagued the Storm.

Battery Life:

Because the Blackberry Storm 9550 is a world phone, the band that is being used affects battery life. We recommend charging once a day as moderate usage will drain most of its charge.  With light to moderate usage, you would likely charge it every other day.  While Talk time is 5 and half hours, it can last 11 days without usage. So, the battery life is pretty decent.


At first glance, the box that the Storm 9550 comes is of the same design as the earlier Storm, only slightly smaller. They are identical except for the picture of the phone and technical details. The box feels heavier thanks to the additional weight of the Storm 2. Well, whoever cares about the package, what is inside it matters.

What’s in the Box?

The Storm2 ships along with a 16 GB microSD memory card, rechargeable battery, microUSB international charger, USB cable, wired 3.5mm stereo headset, pre installed SIM card, quick reference guide, documentation kit and a global support kit.


There is a warranty of one year provided for the BlackBerry Storm 9550 from the date of purchase.


Despite the similar design and software, the RIM BlackBerry 9550 is not a really bad phone. In fact the phone easily can win the most improved award in the smart phone category.  Many improvements have been incorporated and all the previous problems (lack of Wi-Fi, unnatural scrolling and the screen mechanism) have been solved. The new touch screen is a pleasure to use than its predecessor. The phone is great when it comes to taking calls and viewing email. The increased onboard memory and the new OS make the phone snappier to use.  However, the web browser is poor compared to the one on iPhone and HTC Hero. RIM also has to do a lot of catching up in the application store segment. But the main thing that worries us is how the phone would perform in the market. Most improvements in the phone are to cover up all the faults of Storm2. Mean while, competitors of RIM such as Apple and Android have had superior upgrades, thus outpacing the BlackBerry. Do not get us wrong. The BlackBerry Storm is a great phone that appeals to BlackBerry lovers looking for a touch screen phone. If you want a solid keyboard, Palm Pre, Apple iPhone and HTC Hero are some feasible options.

BlackBerry Storm 9550 Mobile Phone - Technical Specification Table

Manufacturer RIM
Model Name BlackBerry Storm 9550
2 G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3 G Network HSDPA 2100   CDMA2000 1x EV-DO
Announced 2008 September
Dimensions 112.5 x 62 x 13.9
Weight 160 g
Display Type TFT capacitive touch screen, 65K colors
Display Size 360 x 480 pixels, 3.25 inches - Accelerometer sensor for auto-rotate
Alert Types Vibration; Downloadable polyphonic, MP3 ringtones
Speakerphone Yes   - 3.5 mm audio jack
Phonebook Memory Yes, Photocall
Call records Yes
Internal 2GB storage
Card Slot microSD (TransFlash), up to 32 GB
GPRS Class 10 (4+1/3+2 slots), 32 - 48 kbps
EDGE Class 10, 236.8 kbps
Wi-Fi Yes
Infrared No
Bluetooth Yes, v2.0 with A2DP
USB Yes, v2,0
Camera 3.2 MP, autofocus, LED flash
Features Geo-tagging, image stabilization
Video Yes, QVGA
Secondary No
OS BlackBerry OS 5.0
CPU 624MHz processor
Messaging SMS, MMS, Email and Instant Messaging
Browser HTML
Radio No
Games Yes + downloadable
Colour Black
GPS Yes, with A GPS support
Java Yes - BlackBerry maps
- Document editor (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF)
- Media player MP3, WMA, WMA ProPlus, AAC, AAC+ and eAAC+
- Video player MPEG4/3gp/H.264/WMV
- Organizer
- Voice dial
- Voice memo
Battery Type Standard battery, Li-Ion 1400 mAh
Battery Standby 11 days
Talk time Up to 5 h 30 min
Warranty One year

BlackBerry Storm 9550 Price

Blackberry Storm 2 9550 Unlocked Smartphone. List Price: $239.95. Click Here [Via eBay]

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