The BlackBerry Storm 2 is RIM's second touchscreen smartphone aimed at the iPhone market. (Updated October 26 2009.)

Updated, January 7, 2010:

In October 2008, RIM launched a touchscreen BlackBerry smartphone that fell short of the iPhone beater it had hoped for.

It was too large and heavy and we weren't convinced by the way the screen physically shifted with our every touch.

We could see what RIM was trying to do - namely, create a touchscreen handset that gave something back in response - but the need to press hard to enter every character made typing slow going.

For the Storm2, RIM has rethought the unresponsive screen, adding sensor pads that recognise nuances of touch and offer a degree of affirmative feedback. Typing is therefore a little faster.

BlackBerry Storm 2 review

Overall, navigation is faster. And the Storm2's slightly smaller, lighter design, integrating hardware keys into the main 3.5in touchscreen area and losing the weird, rocking display, makes it less clunky to carry around than its predecessor.

The Storm2 offers intelligent, threaded communication, so you can see who and from which applications incoming messages and conversation threads originate.

Solid business communication and connections are the BlackBerry's bread and butter and, as always, these are top-notch.

Business credentials sorted, the Storm goes on to make the most of that generous screen with beautiful depth of colour and crisp display when playing videos and a media player that supports multiple music, photo and video formats.

The web browser remains a little off the superlative execution of the iPhone, but the Storm2 serves up the real web with acceptably fast load times.

The 3.2Mp camera has a flash and 5x zoom, and you can name photos as you save them or MMS them straight to friends.

Aside from the iPhone, the BlackBerries are the only smartphones to offer significant numbers of apps. There are already several hundred: some frivolous, and some functional. These are searchable and can be organised into folders out the way.

NEXT: Original full review.

Last year, RIM launched a touchscreen BlackBerry smartphone that fell short of being the iPhone beater it hoped (see our original BlackBerry Storm review). At 158g, it was too heavy, seemed rather too large and we weren’t convinced by the way the touchscreen itself sat within the handset’s base and physically shifted with our every touch.

We could see what RIM was trying to do – namely create a touchscreen handset that gave something back in response – but the need to press hard to enter every character made text and web address entry slow going.

For the BlackBerry Storm 2 the unresponsive screen has been rethought with new sensor pads underneath the transmissive touchpad that recognise nuances of touch and that also offer a degree of affirmative feedback to the user.

Typing on the quad-band, Wi-Fi, 3G handset’s touchscreen keyboard is therefore a little faster, while RIM has also improved the predictive typing. You still can’t type terribly fast on it, but the same is true of all the touchscreen phones we’ve tried.

Onscreen icons are large enough to easily and accurately select and you need only gently place your finger on an item for it to glow back at you in affirmation that it recognises your touch. Navigation therefore feels faster and is a more pleasing experience.

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The new BlackBerry Storm 2 model is slimmer and lighter than the original Storm smartphone too, while the sole hardware keys are now tucked beneath the glass fascia. Hardware buttons around the edges, meanwhile, are encased in rubber, rather than being ridged silver metal. You therefore feel where the camera button is or the one to lower the volume. This subtle change doesn’t make much odds to the Storm’s usability.

What does, though, is the new focus on intelligent communication – RIM has learnt a lesson from Palm and is talking up the usefulness of being able to see who and from which applications incoming messages and conversation threads originate, be that phone, email, instant message, Facebook and so on. Solid business communication and connections have always been the BlackBerry’s core strength, matched only by the Palm.

The web browser remains a little off the superlative execution of the iPhone, but the BlackBerry Storm 2 serves up the real web with acceptably fast page load times and the ability to jump immediately into a full-page view of a story and straight back out again.

BlackBerry Storm 2 in pictures

The excellent bright, QVGA screen makes viewing photos and video on the BlackBerry Storm 2's 3.8in screen a joy and with both iTunes support and a searchable media player and photos you can immediately save, rename or send on to a friend or upload, it doesn’t disappoint on the entertainment front.

We found taking photos on the Palm Pre easier, to be honest, due to the physical shape of the handset, but the BlackBerry Storm 2 is no better or worse for taking snaps than the iPhone and has the advantage of a zoom and a flash.

The BlackBerry Storm 2, of course, comes with the BlackBerry App World download store – something that launched a couple of months after the first Storm model launched. Accessible from an icon on the main screen, it’s not as well populated as Apple’s App Store, but has a useful selection of free and paid-for productivity tools for the incessantly in touch and some fun timewasters for the rest of us. Several hundred apps are offered.

NEXT: our original review of the BlackBerry Storm 2, from the US >>

CLICK HERE FOR OUR EXPERT VERDICT >>

The BlackBerry Storm2 is the Storm that we wish RIM had released last year - this BlackBerry's build, the on-screen keyboard, and the software are miles beyond the first generation. Even so, pressing to type still takes some getting used to.

RIM's first touchscreen device - the BlackBerry Storm - received a lukewarm reception last year. But when the BlackBerry Storm 2 debuts in the UK in October 2009, it will be well worth your consideration.

In measurements and display size, the BlackBerry Storm2 is identical to its predecessor. It weighs just slightly more than the original Storm. If you put the two handsets side by side, however, the older Storm looks clunkier.

All of the buttons on the BlackBerry Storm2 are more recessed, making for a more streamlined design. Hardware buttons no longer run below the display; instead, the new handset offers touch-sensitive buttons there. And unlike with the first model, on this version you won't see a crack between where the display ends and the keys start - this alone puts the BlackBerry Storm2 aeons beyond the Storm in design aesthetics.

BlackBerry Storm 2 in pictures

The absence of that (somewhat disturbing) crack is due to the new SurePress technology, which is now electronic rather than mechanical. You still have to push down to type or select an application, but the BlackBerry Storm2 no longer feels wobbly or clumsy to press.

In the original Storm, the mechanical SurePress interface was often inaccurate: You'd press one application, and another would activate.

Without getting too technical, the difference in the two generations lies underneath the display. The original Storm was in essence one big suspended button mounted below the screen's centre point. Below the BlackBerry Storm2's hood, in contrast, four activators sense when you're pressing on the screen. This design allows for a more stable navigating experience.

We had a much easier time typing on the BlackBerry Storm2's keyboard than on the original's, but we still can't get accustomed to pushing down on a display to type. We know that it is supposed to feel more natural than a typical touch keyboard, but we prefer the physical BlackBerry keyboards. We do like how you can hold down the Shift key and a letter to capitalise it, as you would on a physical keyboard. (A colleague with larger hands had more difficulty typing on it than I did, however.)

One interesting thing to note: RIM studied the way people typed on touch keyboards, and found that, while typing quickly, they often briefly held down two keys at once. The BlackBerry Storm2's keyboard mimics that by having both keys respond when you press them, thus making typing faster. And of course, the keyboard has RIM's excellent SureType predictive-text entry, which facilitates speedy typing.

The new BlackBerry Storm2 also has inertial scrolling, which means that you can move through your contacts or media library quickly with a flick of your finger. It isn't as speedy as the iPhone's scrolling, but it is a big improvement from that of the older Storm, which barely budged when you flicked to scroll. There were times when we had to flick multiple times to get the phone to respond, however. The cut/copy/paste functions are also easier to use, since the "handles" you grab to select text are bigger.

While the BlackBerry Storm2 retains the original's 480-by-360-pixel display resolution, the user interface looks a lot brighter and sharper. This is due to the BlackBerry OS 5.0 software, which has sharper icons, brighter colours, and blacker blacks than does BlackBerry OS 4.7 (which shipped on the original Storm). The interface is clean and simple to navigate, thanks to the easy-to-identify icons.

Call quality tested in the US over Verizon's 3G network was very good, with no background static or hiss. Voices were loud enough for us to hear easily, and they sounded natural. Parties on the other end of the line could hear our voice clearly while we were standing on a busy street corner.

Like all BlackBerry products, the BlackBerry Storm2 has excellent messaging and email capabilities. You get BlackBerry Enterprise Server support for your work email, and you can load up to 10 work or personal POP3 or IMAP accounts.

The BlackBerry Storm2 doesn't come loaded with the new BlackBerry Messenger 5.0, but you should definitely download it from BlackBerry App World. Trust me, you'll never go back to the old Messenger: Version 5 sports a spruced-up interface that's easier to use, it offers more emoticons to choose from, and it has the ability to display your location via GPS.

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Pages loaded quickly over Verizon's 3G network, and even faster over Wi-Fi. Yes, the BlackBerry Storm2 has Wi-Fi, and that alone makes the revised handset a big step up from the original Storm. RIM says to expect all of its future CDMA handsets to ship with Wi-Fi connectivity, so kudos to the company for finally getting past that roadblock. The browser will default to a mobile page when one is available, but it also loads full sites without any issues. Of course, the BlackBerry platform doesn't yet support Flash, so Flash-heavy sites won't load.

The BlackBerry Storm2's music player displays album art and has easy-to-access touch controls. Audio quality sounded a bit hollow piped through the bundled headset and on third-party higher-quality earbuds. Video playback was very smooth throughout most clips; we noticed only a bit of stuttering in fast-action scenes.

Overall, we were impressed with the BlackBerry Storm2's 3.2Mp camera. Snapshots taken both indoors and outdoors looked better than pictures taken with the Apple iPhone 3GS. Colours were a bit washed out and even more so when the flash was on, but details were sharp and we didn't detect any noise or graininess.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

BlackBerry Storm 2: Specs

  • HSDPA
  • Built-in GPS navigation
  • 3.2-megapixel camera
  • Touchscreen
  • 3G/GPRS/WiFi/Triband/Quadband
  • Bluetooth
  • PC synchronisation
  • Memory card slot
  • Vodafone Mobile Internet
  • Email
  • Games
  • MP3 player
  • Poly ring tones
  • Mobile TV compatible
  • Camera / Video
  • Flash or light
  • Alarm clock
  • 112x62x14mm
  • HSDPA
  • Built-in GPS navigation
  • 3.2-megapixel camera
  • Touchscreen
  • 3G/GPRS/WiFi/Triband/Quadband
  • Bluetooth
  • PC synchronisation
  • Memory card slot
  • Vodafone Mobile Internet
  • Email
  • Games
  • MP3 player
  • Poly ring tones
  • Mobile TV compatible
  • Camera / Video
  • Flash or light
  • Alarm clock
  • 112x62x14mm

OUR VERDICT

We aren’t wholly enthused with the Storm 2 and are hoping for a sleeker, yet more tactile model to emerge that can truly rival the iPhone. Overall, the Storm2 is a solid business smartphone with some neat multimedia tricks and excellent communication credentials. Its touchscreen has been markedly improved, putting it on a par with most of the pack here, but the Bold is a better Smartphone and the HTC HD2 and Pre are more impressive overall.

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