Why Even the BlackBerry Storm STILL Doesn't Compare to the iPhone 3G

We've covered why the BlackBerry can't compare the iPhone, why the BlackBerry compares worse than ever to the iPhone 3G, and even what the iPhone could learn from the Blackberry.

So, okay, fair enough. We've beaten the BlackBerry horse so far past death even it's ghost shows bruises. But here's the thing -- the second biggest story of the week (after iPhone OS 2.2, naturally) is the release of the Blackberry Storm, a direct response to Apple's revolutionary iPhone and its unprecedented sales, business, and reliability success.

How could we ignore that, and how could we ignore iPhone owners who are daring to think different(ly) about jumping to the Storm, or have stuck with Verizon this long hoping the Storm would give them reason not to switch to the iPhone AT&T.

The answer is, we can't, and we won't. So after the break, our Top 5 reasons why the BlackBerry Storm STILL doesn't compare to the iPhone!

Flattery Will Get RIM Nowhere

We've joked about iClones before, about RIM's choice of stylings for the Bold, and their note-by-note replication of Apple's iPhone SDK Event, but the Storm is perhaps the ultimate iClone, and for would-be-Storm users, that's a problem.

Just look at the review. Pretty much every reviewer puts the Storm head-to-head against the iPhone, and many of the comparisons don't end up in the Storm's favor. Heck, even CrackBerry.com is getting an incredibly wide range of feedback on the device.

Why? Because in trying to be what a BlackBerry isn't, in trying to stem the bleeding in people (especially business people) leaving the BlackBerry for the iPhone and leaving Verizon for AT&T just to get an iPhone, RIM has created something that compromises the traditional BlackBerry's killer productivity while failing to match the iPhone's unparalleled usability.

In making the whole touch-screen a giant wrist-wrecking button, RIM has create something that's less than the sum of its parts.

BlackBerry OS By Any Other Input Method...

Dieter said it best in his recent BlackBerry Bold review. RIM has reached the point Palm did when they released the 650. While this is true of the Bold, it matters even more to Storm users.

Apple leveraged a modern, advanced desktop class OS to create the iPhone, but also meticulously crafted a whole new -- and unique -- UI paradigm.

RIM reworked a slight variation of their aging embedded micro-Java platform and tacked some touch (and a very few multi-touch) on top of it.

While the situations are admittedly different for a variety of reasons, it's the BlackBerry equivalent of Touch Flo 3D.

Future Un-Proofing

Following the OS train of that, even if RIM has a few more tricks up their sleeves -- hey, maybe even a whole new, next generation OS sitting deep in the bunkers below Waterloo? -- right now they face iPhone OS 2.x leading mobile computing world, and Google's Android all but ready to challenge for that title.

Heck, unlike Palm Nova and Windows Mobile 7, far off vaporware though they may be, RIM hasn't even shed any light whatsoever on their next generation plans, if any.

Apple, for its part, has shown they not only can, but will push out software updates at a near break-neck pace. While even iPhone 2G owners can update to iPhone OS 2.x, giving their last gen hardware some next gen software, BlackBerry certainly hasn't provided as frequent, functional, or simple upgrade paths in the past.

Unfortunately, Storm owners can't enjoy that kind of faith in the future.

Form Factor Fracture

We mentioned earlier that RIM recently iClone'd Apple's iPhone SDK Event, complete with the promise of VC funding, push notification services, an App Store (2 of them, actually), and renewed power for developers.

Then they went ahead and launched the Storm.

So, unlike the iPhone SDK, where developers can pretty much count on similar hardware across 2 platforms (iPhone and iPod Touch) and 2 generations (2007 and 2008 models), RIM developers now can't count on any given handset having touch or multi-touch screen input, having a trackball, or having a hard keyboard.

In order to enjoy the richest experience, would-be Storm users will have to bet on special developed Storm apps, and given the entrenched base of non-Storm BlackBerry's, those aren't great odds.

iTone Deaf

With it's gorgeous full screen, the BlackBerry Storm is clearly aimed at the iPhone's heart and soul. No, not internet communication. iPhone still wins web and BlackBerry is still untouchable at messaging. We're talking media. The high density -- though not Bold-style drool inducing -- should make almost everyone enjoy their movies and TV on it...

If they could get their movies and TV on it.

By going for iTunes sync, RIM has pretty much given up on handling their own media and just gone with iTunes sync (and, hey, wouldn't it be fair to give iPhone users some BlackBerry Connect love in exchange? Huh?) But just connection to iTunes to drag over some MP3 files pales in comparison to Apple's complete ecosystem.

Rent or buy movies, get season passes to TV shows, move them to or from your iPhone, PC/Mac, or AppleTV, enjoy the full catalog of the #1 music retailer... And did we mention in iPhone OS 2.2 you can download not only music, but audio and video podcasts directly to your iPhone?

So not only does "clicking through" the "whole screen button" tire you out and slow you down, you can't even enjoy the same breadth of entertainment while you're resting up.


While RIM deserves some credit for stepping beyond their front-facing keyboard comfort zone with the BlackBerry Storm, they're still playing "catch up" and "me to" with the iPhone. They're still following, not leading.

That's why these five reasons, among others, make us confident the BlackBerry Storm STILL Doesn't compare to the iPhone.

What are your reasons? Or, if you disagree, what are your top 5 retorts?

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Why Even the BlackBerry Storm STILL Doesn't Compare to the iPhone 3G


Couldn't of put it any better I think that click screen is horrible when I am typing on my iPhone fast I am barely pushing down on the keys I wouldn't want to have to click the screen ughh gross!! There will never be an iPhone killer apple will always be the leader always!

Was this entire article just a self-confirmation of your iphone purchase? "Unprecedented... business success"? Seriously, the "business world" has for the most part roundly rejected the iphone as a biz device. I love my 3G, but it's got too many strikes against it to be a full fledged biz class device. However, IMO it's still good to see that the 3G's forced other manufacturers to come along in an effort to compete.

Wholeheartedly agree with your assessment. I tried out the new Storm this past Friday. I find it very flimsy next to the iphone. I was a die hard Blackberry but now a avid iphone user. I think Blackberry should stick with the Bold as that is what it does best.

AT&T doesn't have great service in the areas where I work. Storm has major software issues and after being one of the "lucky" ones to get one, I'm told 4 weeks to get a replacement that might work. No wonder the country is in such a mess - big businesses can't get anything right.

Many companies have invested alot of money in BES, and RIM is offering them a solution for their employees who are whinging about wanting an iPhone. This will only stem the flow for a few years. RIM is in big trouble in my opinion.

My brother owns a Blackberry as long as I've had my iPhone. He's been drinking Blackberry flavored Cool Aid ever since just like I'm sipping Apple flavored Cool Aid. Today he went to a Verizon store to try the Storm and came back impressed with the screen not so much for display resolution but how 'cool' it is to type on it. He thought that RIM wins game over. I acknowledged that if all people do is type on their phone they're likely to be satisfied with RIM's new direction. However, if they like to do other things with their phones that don't involve typing then what, exactly, is the benefit of RIM's Storm?
If anyone, RIM included, can answer that then they are going to have a hit on their hands. However, I don't think that they've got an ad campaign lined up that will show the world how doing things on the Storm other than text-based activities is going to be easier, better or more satisfying. If they've gotten this far and all they have is it types better then Apple will continue to outsell all RIM flavors.

Clicking is out. Touch is in.
Henry Ford didn't put plastic horses in front of his Model-Ts. Neither should mobile devices cater to those afraid of change.

I think the Blackberry Storm is a good device but for a very small niche of customers. Their OS lags are evident everywhere and it's extremely hard to type quickly on the keyboard. I tried typing on the Storm for over an hour and I still couldn't get the hang of it. The blue highlighted light doesn't help as much as it gets in your way when trying to find the correct keys to press. I feel RIM is probably going to be ready for the iPhone 3G in their next release if they take heed to their mistakes of this version of the Storm. Too bad for them, iPhone users will have yet another iteration of the iPhone to use by then and RIM will still be behind.

I think the point would actually have been stronger if you'd just stopped at the Palm comparison. I think that's key here. RIM has chased after a market that wants an integrated experience and not provided one. It has abandoned it's core market, who strongly wants things like a hardware keyboard. So by trying to chase and forgetting their roots they have wound up with a device that doesn't really seem to satisfy any of their targets successfully/completely. Is it the perfect compromise, or doomed to obscurity? I guess time will tell.
But another important parallel with Palm is the OS gap. People have been complaining about RIM's apparent lack of vision on the OS front for a while now. And considering some of the UI glue they have attempted with this new interface, one is left wondering whether they should be applauded for tacking it onto an OS that isn't worthy or lambasted for not having the vision to do something about the platform.
I feel no particular drive to switch to the Storm (I'm an iPhone 3G user, but have used many other devices in the past). For others I know, including WM users who don't want to leave Verizon, the Storm is a real draw. But I still caution these folks to wait a bit and see how well this device is really accepted. Several of them jumped onto WM because their favorite Palm wasn't available on Verizon and are really upset with that choice. It may be that there /aren't/ any really good choices -- reminds us of recent election opportunities.
My best advice -- and how I'm advising these friends and coworkers now -- is to stick with the evil you know and have doing what you want for no extra $$$ now rather than jump again into the unknown and questionable, plunking down lots more $$$ (hardware and apps) in the process. In case you're wondering, I do actually follow my own advice... I vowed never to touch the iPhone until they opened to 3rd party development and had applications that could at least reproduce what I was using my then Palm Treo to accomplish. I've been a happy iPhone 3G user since it launched. :D

Yeah I would say that the storm is a complete fail. Why doesn't blackberry try some originality. I worked in mobile support for Telstra and the blackberry bold because of it's user friendlyness is a life saver for us, the storm if it comes to Australia is going to be a big fail. I still hold the iPhone as the best business phone in the world. Blackberry need to stop being so retarded as to make up their own design not copy anyone elses. And yeah palms rule!! If I didn't have an iPhone I would seriously concider a treo 750.

I own the Storm and like it very much. Verizon is the only game here in rural AZ so I'm happy to have such a great unit. Undoubtedly future software updates will help and the software store will be nice whan it opens early next year. I would have gone with the iPhone but the service is spotty at best. This is a great 2nd choice for me.

it's sad to see blackberry resorting to crummy gimmicks. verizon probably suggested it to them since they are the experts on gimmicks.
it's funny to know that apple originally brought their iphone to verizon but they were rejected. all verizon wants are gimmicks, innovation means nothing to them. so blackberry gave them one. a clickable screen.
thanks verizon and blackberry, i will agree that gimmicks sell to those who don't see through your fake attempts for "innovation" and see all you fat cats dancing all the way to the bank. you will always have a place in america's hearts. =]

Iphone fan boys....pfff. Let me make this clear to all of you, There are many positives to this new phone that most of you don't seem to realize.
1.Competition- with the Storm (I have) pressing iphone against the wall, it forces them to be more innovative and productive now, instead of being passed.
2.Most of you highschoolers and bums sitting at home have all these great ideas for innovation and support of a lack of competition for the Iphone... go ahead, you try to make a competitor! Stay in school!
3.Dynasty/Empire- There is a fall to every single one in every time period in history. For instance, Dinosaurs, Rome, Nazi Germany, Green Bay, Lakers, Celtics! My point is with every great rise of an idea, person, product... There will be a great fall. The RAZR use to rule sales. Where is it now? It will happen to you too Iphone fair weather fanboys!!!! HA!

Your point well taken Rich182x, but the last time I check, iphone was selling 4 million units since July. Why don't you wait with your comments until Blackberry is selling 4 millions units??!!!

rich 182x your funny and if u knew anything about the iPhone u would know that it will never fall because it is a trend setter it is the leader of smart phones apple was the first to revolutionnize smart phones with the real Internet on a phone and people know that. that's why people love the iPhone all these other companies r followers and they r trying to catch up.

We have an iPhone 3G AND a new Blackberry Storm, so I think I may be qualified to make a reasonably fair comparison.
The Storm is not a copycat of the iPhone. The only thing they really have in common is a touch screen, but Apple wasn't the first to do that anyway.
The OS on the iPhone is more refined and slightly quicker. The Storm is slow in comparison, but I think some people are blowing this issue out of proportion. Either that or mine is quicker than others?
The iPhone has a browser that is easier to use and faster. The browser on the Storm however seems to be more stable...so far.
Both phones are a PITA to type anything on. I honestly can't say one is better than the other...they both suck equally for typing. Whether you click the screen or not is a preference. It's not like it's hard to press the screen on the Storm.
Iphone is a slightly better music player. Not enough better to make the Storm a loser per say, but it is slightly better and integrates directly with iTunes.
In general the iPhone is a slightly better "entertainment" phone.
Sadly, while the iPhone accels at entertainment, it falters somewhat as a phone and messaging system, which is what should be most important. Here's why:
The iPhone bluetooth support is pathetic at best. Ours doesn't even work. Well, it worked for one day then quit. Need to get that fixed. The Storm not only has great bluetooth, but it also has stereo bluetooth, which allows me to play my MP3's thorugh my car stereo without wires. Awesome! I can also use bluetooth headphones.
The messaging options on the Storm are FAR superior. SMS and MMS, send pictures, send video, whatever. Great email support, visual voicemail (another great thing), etc. The Storm wins hands down in this department.
Replaceable battery. Why Apple thinks it's cool to not use user replaceable batteries is beyond me. With the Storm I have an extra battery I can install if I need to.
Replaceable memory. I already upgraded to a 16 Gig card. Sure, you can get the iPhone in 16 Gig, but at some point I imagine Blackberry will upgrade the firmware so 32 Gig cards can be used when they come available. Even if not, in theory I can just use multiple cards with multiple information on them and swap them out as needed.
Call quality is better on the Storm. Argue all you want, but Blackberry does this better and Verizons service is better.
The camera on the Storm is better than iPhone AND supports video capture. Don't know why Apple overlooked that from the beginning...this is nothing new for phone cameras?
Wi-Fi. I know many people complain about the lack of it on the Storm. I don't miss it, maybe because we've never used it on the iPhone. 3G is fast enough, it's more secure, and it's sure a hell of a lot more reliable than free Wi-Fi. If it's important to you then that's a good reason to not prefer the Storm. But that's probably the only thing that would be a halfway logical reason to not like this phone.
Anyway, when it's all said and done, it really comes down to personal preference, requirements, priorities, etc. There is no real right or wrong answer. Both phones have goods and bads. The good news is that the more competition there is the better they will all get. Apple isn't going to be able to sell their phone through clever marketing anymore...they will have another version of the iPhone soon and I'd bet money it will imcoporate some of the features it has been lacking. And all the companies are going to be working hard to keep ahead.
Now stop the childish arguing and accept the fact that competition is good and there's no such thing as a perfect phone!

Guys, BlackBerry has released a new firmware ( for the Storm. This release has Reduced lag and response time of the Storm. Users have reported that this release has made a huge difference in performance. Visit http://smartphone-guru.blogspot.com/2008/12/blackberry-storm-bug-fixes-w... for a list of bugs fixed by the firmware update.
The only bad thing is that this release is not for Apple Mac users. Yep, BlackBerry does not support Apple Mac that well... visit http://smartphone-guru.blogspot.com/2008/12/blackberry-storm-firmware-up... for System Requirements.

I think that you are all wrong in a way. it is what you like and what you have to deal wit. for example, i am stuck with verizon so i will get the next best thing to the iphone. also the web browsing for the storm is a little faster. if you want the blackberry's great email service then get it. if you want the iphone's great apps and touch screen then get it. Both have ps and downs.

I just have one question for all you iPhone users..."Can you hear me now" No..oh that might be a problem. I went to Nashville a few weeks ago and one of the guys that went with us had an iPhone. Most of the places we went to he had 0 coverage and one time even had to borrow my Storm to call his fiance. iPhone could be the greatest single invention of the century if only it ran on a network you could actually make, receive, and hold a call on. AT&T's network is spotty at best. I have absolutely no issues with my Storm and the web surfing is faster then my work PC...no joke this is true and we have a T1 backbone at the office.
Till iPhone migrates to a network worth something it is little more then a portable jukebox, second rate gaming system, thrown in with some moderate call functionality (moderate is a gift to AT&T if you are a corporate traveler). I talk to iPhone biggots all the time and love hanging out with them since it really makes me smile when I have to lend them my phone for them to make a call. Call me stupid but I thought that the goal of a cell was to actually place a call and maintain that call till completion.

I have a BB 8700g. Been looking at iPhone and Storm, hard to do a direct comparison of a first generation Storm to a second generation iPhone! Don't you remember all the fuss around the first iPhone and all the things it did not do! (http://www.engadget.com/2008/06/09/iphone-1-0-r-i-p-2007-2008/) I think as a 1st gen device the Storm is a pretty good contender. Stop comparing the FIRST Storm to the SECOND iPhone and say the iPhone is better...of course it is better in some ways - they already learned from version 1!

So much to agree and disagree with. As a first go, the Blackberry Storm is a nice try but certainly no match for the iPhone. Apple has nailed the iPod + phone features to a level that everyone is left following. That being said the iPhone still hasn't got it's act together enough from a productivity standpoint to beat Blackberry at the corporate device game. No weekly view for calendar, poor synchronizing to Exchange (or MS Outlook for that matter) no manipulating MS attachments, 4 character security, and so on. The app store is the killer app for the iPhone, but I can count less than a dozen apps that would actually benefit a business type.
I believe the iPhone is truly the new standard for a multimedia device. But it's very much the 5pm to 9am smartphone as opposed to the 9 am to 5 pm device.

The Storm does such , it's just a cheap plastic Blackberry device and is no Mach for such a great phone like the iPhone 3G and 1st generation . I have the 1st iPhone and the 3G and have tried the blackberry Typing on it is a lot harder the screen resolution is a lot worse than the iPhone's the screen is smaller , it is not as comfortable to hold . Apple iPhone will allways be better and allways has been better , plus the media on the Storm Sucks !

I fully agree with Joe (comment #22) above. ATT network sucks compared to Verizon. Since I own the Bold, I can't really comment on this thread. But the OS is not as advanced, say as Palm's