October 21, 2009
I was able to spend a few moments with the BlackBerry Storm2 today. My initial take-away is that it is better in almost all respects than its predecessor, but weaknesses remain.There's no doubt at all that RIM has make significant improvements to the Storm2 when it is held next to the original Storm. The device feels more solid, smoother, and more well thought-out.
In terms of the dimensions, there appeared to be only microscopic differences. For all intents and purposes, it is the same size as the original, and it feels about the same weight. The first thing you notice when you hold it in your hands is that the screen feels more solid. The moveable SurePress screen on the original actually slides from slide to side, and if you shake the phone, you'll actually hear it rattling about. Not so with the Storm2. The display is held firmly in place. As noted by others who've held it, the four buttons along the bottom are indeed built into the actual face of the display rather than as stand-alone buttons. Because they are flush with the display surface, they're a bit harder to find than the buttons were on the original, but they still have good travel and feedback. About the screen and typing. According to the person who let me use the Storm2, the display has four actuators underneath it, an increase from the one actuator used by the original. This makes the screen much more responsive, especially to very fast typing. The rub is, you still have to physically depress the screen to get it to register clicks and key presses. The amount of travel has definitely been reduced when compared to the original Storm, but if you think it's going to be anything like typing on an iPhone or Android device, think again. At the end of a long day of messaging (assuming the battery makes it that far), your hands are going to be tired from all the pressure required to depress the screen. RIM's real QWERTY keyboards are simply better. I felt the device was a hair's breadth faster and more responsive, but I still experienced a little bit of lag when rotating it from portrait to vertical orientation and when switching from app to app. In general, though, the OS felt more stable and appeared to be less flakey. The OS has been spiffed up fractionally, and this is perhaps the biggest weakness. Using BlackBerry OS on a touch phone just doesn't compare to the experience offered by HTC's Sense or TouchFlo UIs, Samsung's TouchWiz, or even plain old Android. RIM needs to step up the OS game here. The other features of the phone are so similar that they don't require comment. Verizon has yet to officially acknowledge that it will sell this device, but you can expect official word to come from Big Red very soon.
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