Storm Ahead: Verizon Sets a Date and Price for the Touch-Screen BlackBerry

By  |  Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 8:50 am


At the moment, RIM’s BlackBerry Storm reigns as the most intriguing smartphone that hasn’t quite been released yet. That’ll change on November 21st: Verizon Wireless announced today that it’ll begin selling the first touch-screen BlackBerry on that date. Sign up for a two-year contract, and you’ll pay $249.99 for the Storm and get a $50 debit card in the mail, assuming you remember to do the paperwork in time. Which, if I were buying a Storm, I probably wouldn’t.

(Side rant: Verizon lists the price of the phone as $199.99, and only footnotes the fact that it charges you $249.99 and gives you a debit card to bring the final cost down. That’s not the same thing as a $199.99 price–if it were, Verizon wouldn’t bother with the $50 card rigmarole–and I think consumer-protection laws should require the company to list the price you’ll pay as the price you’ll pay, with the $50 debit card being the footnote. End of side rant.)

Is the Storm a good deal? Any price comparison will inevitably involve two other phones, Apple’s iPhone 3G and RIM’s own BlackBerry Bold. The Storm’s eventual-cost-of-$199.99-if-you-send-in-for-your-debit-card-and-use-it pricing is obviously designed to compete with the 8GB iPhone 3G, which goes for $199. The Storm lacks Wi-Fi and has only 1GB of onboard memory; on the other hand, Verizon’s high-speed data network beats AT&T’s. I’d say that the iPhone is a slightly better deal overall based on pure specs. (Which doesn’t mean much: The BlackBerry and iPhone experiences have a lot more to do with software and services than hardware.)

Then there’s the Bold: With a two-year contract, AT&T charges $399.99 for it and gives you a $100 rebate, for a final cost of $299.99. The Bold has Wi-Fi, but that still feels a tad pricey compared to either the iPhone or the Storm. Probably because the Bold is the most buttoned-down, corporate phone of the three, catering to road-warrior types with deep pockets.

But wait: If you sign up for a two-year contract, Wal-Mart will sell you a Bold for $199.99 and provide a $199 rebate, for a final cost of…nothing. That’s one of the best deals going in smartphones.

(Additional side rant: AT&T’s site lists the unsubsidized price for the Bold as $549.99. Wal-Mart’s site lists it at $699. My conclusion: Don’t believe anything anyone tells you about the cost of a cell phone.)

Okay, back to the Storm. I haven’t seen one in person yet. When I first heard rumors of a touch BlackBerry it sounded like a cheesy me-too response to the iPhone which stripped the BlackBerry of its signature feature: a usable, physical keyboard. But the Storm looks like it’ll be more than an iPhone wannabee: The whole screen depresses when you touch an on-screen key, giving you feedback that the iPhone lacks. So I’m reserving judgment until I’ve had some hands-on time with one.


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3 Comments For This Post

  1. eric Says:

    but what about the monthly cost? These $50 to $100 costs up front are nothing when you factor how much it is going to cost per month, and I’m still not clear on what the minimum you’ll have to pay is for iPhone vs. Storm, for example. $70? $90 if you want to text? Does anyone have a grid that spells all this out for all these phones and companies?

  2. Harry McCracken Says:

    Good point on service costs–Verizon hasn’t released pricing for Storm plans yet, to my knowledge…


  3. Kevin Says:

    Everything that has been published on verizon and throughout the tech world says that you will have to have a premium data plan to get most of the functions that the Storm offers. See and scroll through. It’s hidden in there but is there.

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