Verizon Wireless BlackBerry Storm2 First Impressions

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The hardware tour and software overview videos have been posted for the BlackBerry Storm2 on Verizon Wireless’ CDMA network, which will officially be available to the public on October 28. Here are some of my first impressions.

Read on for the initial impressions of the Storm2.

1. Having WiFi on board is nice. This feature is new to the Storm2 and since its hardware-related, won’t be available on the original Storm via a firmware upgrade.

2. The browser could use a bit more speed to it. In our non-scientific test comparing the Storm2’s browser to the original Storm’s browser on Verizon’s EVDO data speed, the Storm beat out the newer Storm2 in rendering the pocketnow.com webpage with Javascript enabled. Compared to other smartphone platforms, almost every other platform had beat out the Storm2. Compared to the BlackBerry Tour (a more traditional keyboard candybar BlackBerry on Sprint’s 3G network), the difference in rendering speed became apalling. The Storm2 kept chugging away while the Tour finished so much earlier.

3. Gestures: Flick scrolling as Apple calls it or kinetic scrolling as RIM likes to say is now part of the software. It is nice to flick through long documents, lists, or web pages. However, that same feature will also make its way to the original Storm via a software package. Also included is a gesture for cut, copy, and paste, which is done by tapping two fingers on the screen. I didn’t think it worked all too well, but that’s debatable. It does take getting acclimated to and I’ve only had the unit for two days.

4. The new click screen: This is what everyone’s been asking and wanting to talk about–how does the new click screen work? Well, the short answer is the same. It feels more sturdy and more solid than the original Storm–there is no light leakage around the screen borders as on the original Storm, and it seems to be anchored more solidly rather than the single anchor point in the center of the screen on the Storm. However, in use with the touchscreen BlackBerry OS and user interface, it feels the same–when typing, you still have to click in, the keyboard still is the same and you’ll get the SureType two-character per key keyboard in portrait and a full QWERTY layout in landscape. In actual use, the paradigm for the clickscreen, which RIM labels as a SurePress screen, is still the same idea carried forward from the original Storm. The hardware just is a bit better. That means if you were annoyed by the clickscreen, those feelings won’t go away with the Storm2.

5. Is it worth the upgrade? Probably not for original Storm owners. The hardware is more refined, but you’ll get very similar functionality with the original Storm getting a firmware upgrade to take advantage of features like cut, copy, and paste as well as kinetic scrolling. If you can live without WiFi on your Storm, the Storm2 may not be a compelling upgrade. If you’re new to the touchscreen BlackBerry, this may be a good device to you if you like, can tolerate, or can’t live without that SurePress screen technology.

6. Comparisons: Compared to other touchscreen devices like the Windows Mobile 6.5 HTC Imagio on Verizon Wireless’ lineup, the capacitive screen really does make a difference in being able to see the display outdoors. It really does depend on what you need your device to do–TouchFLO 3D and the new Today screen on Windows Mobile 6.5 offers you a lot of information at a quick glance without having to open specific programs but the BlackBerry brand is still strong among enterprise and prosumers, which the device is targeted. Will it remain top dog on Verizon’s lineup? Probably not as Verizon Wireless is now focusing its attention on Android, and more specifically the Motorola Droid, which will be unveiled to media the same day as the Storm2 gets launched, casting a dark cloud on the Storm2’s launch day.

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About The Author
Chuong Nguyen