The Blackberry Storm2 comes across as a better handset than the first Storm, but it appears to be a 'service pack' rather than an entirely new handset. It's almost as if this handset directly addresses the flaws and problems that users of the original Storm complained most about, especially where those issues couldn't be fixed by software updates. The touch-screen now responds better and RIM has included Wi-Fi. What the company really hasn't done is improved on the handset to make it really stand out as a compelling advance from the Storm.
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Blackberry OS 5, 3.25in 480 x 360 touch-screen, 3.2-megapixel camera, 3.5mm audio jack, email, SMS, MMS, internet access, MP3 player, video player, 2GB memory, microSD slot, quad-band, GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Research In Motion (RIM) unveiled its second full touch-screen handset earlier this month, the BlackBerry Storm2 9520. The device is the successor to the original BlackBerry Storm, with new touch-screen technology, an updated operating system and, most importantly, Wi-Fi, which was sadly missing from the first handset.
We recently spent some time with the Storm2 to compile this first impression of the handset without thoroughly benchmarking and testing the device.
To the untrained eye, the new and old models look the same with their large screens, same form factor, and the same core email and text messaging functionality. It's only when we look a little deeper that we find the handset has changed somewhat for the better in most areas.
The Storm2 touch-screen is the first of the significant changes from the original Storm. Underlying the surface of the 3.25in display is an electro-mechanical mechanism for interpreting the touch-screen requests, whereas the previous handset had a purely mechanical mechanism. The original Storm had one large plate suspended just under its raised screen for reading touch-screen inputs. When pressed, the screen moved inwards a slight distance.
Selecting an application or any item on both the original Storm and the Storm2 is still performed by just touching the display, while launching that item is done by pressing down on the moveable screen, which retracts slightly and then returns back to its starting position.
RIM has done away with the large plate under the screen and has replaced it with four smaller sensors. These are located under each corner of the display for a more accurate reading and interpretation of the user's touch request as compared to the earlier single large plate.
Both of these technologies provide tactile feedback and fall under RIM's SurePress technology. In the prior version of SurePress, the mechanical mechanism had its flaws and critics. On the first Storm the interpretation of touch requests was not entirely accurate all of the time. On using the two versions side by side, we found that the new electro-mechanical mechanism is much more precise compared to the first mobile.
This new SurePress technology also makes for faster typing. You are now able to press down on the screen in rapid succession, while in the past you really couldn't mimic typing on a real keyboard. These four sensors also offer the capability of multi-press on the virtual keyboard, with the combination of holding down the shift or alt key plus another, which also wasn't possible with last year's Storm. We've seen multi-touch used on the Storm2 to zoom in and out of images. It's not the iPhone's 'pinch to zoom in and out', but it's still a move in the right direction for RIM.
On the previous handset, the screen also moved in and out whether the phone was powered on or not. As the new SurePress technology isn't just mechanical but is electro-mechanical, the screen doesn't move with the handset powered down or even in standby. This could very well help prevent wear and tear in the long run, or even help avoid general faults with the movable part of the screen in everyday use.
Other notable changes in the Storm2 are the omission of the physical send, menu, return and end call buttons. These have been replaced by touch-screen versions in the same place on the phone, only they're seamlessly integrated into the display. There are also some subtle aesthetic changes to the Storm2 case, with improvements that make the rear shape more curved and easier to hold. The speaker is moved from the rear of the phone and is now placed on the bottom.
Internal memory has been upped from 1GB to 2GB, and RIM has adopted the microSD 2.0 spec with the Storm2, using 32GB microSD card storage devices.