Storm 2 Hero

You can tell RIM is serious about the new Blackberry Storm 2, they didn’t even waste time thinking of a new name, they just added ‘2’ at the end of the old name. Hopefully this gave them more time to focus on the engineering.

It is important to note that the Storm 2 was not created to dethrone the iPhone. RIM are making far too much money to care about a company named after a fruit. What RIM set out to do was create a touch screen Blackberry that works just as well as a regular one.

The big question is, Did they succeed?

No. The Storm 2 is a very capable cellphone, but it is most certainly not one of the best Blackberrys.

Hardware:
The main selling point of a Blackberry is the speed at which you can type on their qwerty keypads. Since the Storm 2 has a touchscreen, they keypad appears there. In the same qwerty format as on their candybar phones. The issue is Blackberry, instead of ditching the stupid “surepress” touch system, refined it. It is all very clever, you can touch a character without selecting it and to select your desired character you have to press the screen down – Like a button. This results in far less, mis-taps than a regular touch screen. It fails by making it near impossible to type fast on the Storm 2. It also makes typing one handed incredibly difficult. You do get used to it, but why should you have to? For me this ruins the Storm 2. Having a big screen is great but on the Storm 2 it takes away what people love about Blackberrys. The ability to type super fast, thereby making it redundant.

Impressively, the build quality no longer resembles something you’d buy in Toy’s-R-Us, in fact I would say it’s on par with the iPhone 3GS and Nokia E72. To add to the new quality feel, is a new quality look. The Storm 2 is not beautiful but it is classy.

The new fancy casing encapsulates a new fancy screen. The screen rocks a killer resolution, 480×360 as well as being transmissive. (Reflects light back through the screen so you are able to see it clearly in sunlight) The sound quality, in call, is up there with the best – it certainly makes the iPhone sound il-cheepo. The camera is not amazing, but decent with 3.2 Megapixels on tap and the battery life is fantastic, with heavy use, I got roughly 2 days.

A pleasant surprise was the MP3 Player that really sounds great and is a pleasure to use. It is an iPhone, which is currently the industry leader, but paired with a decent set of headphones, it is more than good enough to please the audiophile lurking in us all.

OS:
After setting up the Blackberry service on Vodacom, which is as simple as breathing, I got into the device. I am still not a fan of how Blackberrys work; I find having to hit the Blackberry button every time I want more options gets a bit tiresome. The whole OS just feels a bit dated, especially with Android coming into its own and iPhone OS 4.0 coming out rather soon, Blackberry need to get cracking on modernisng their OS.

Messaging:
BlackBerry takes pride in their complete takeover of the corporate world with their push email service. They now have another feather in their cap, the world of teenage girls, with BBM (Blackberry Messenger) There is no doubt that Blackberry are real innovators in the messaging space.

There is one area where I feal they are lagging. Their on device message handling.

Blackberry handle messaging in the good ol’ fashioned way. Having email, SMS and BBM located in different places. HTC, on the other hand, have innovated a new system called the Sense interface, which, I believe, is where all correspondence management is going. What Sense does, is it puts all correspondence with a contact SMS, email, MMS, Facebook and Twitter in one place. This way when you select a contact, you can see everything about them, not just their phone number and email address. Sense shows you their Facebook status, latest tweets, birthday, events they are going to (on Facebook) their emails to, and from you, events in your calendar they have been invited to.

This “everything, in one place” idea is smart and is catching on. Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Samsung and (maybe) Apple are all busy implementing or developing a similar system. This leaves no doubt in my mind that Blackberry will follow suit, hopefully sooner than later.

Applications:
The BlackBerry App World is not the largest app store but what apps it does have seem to have almost all of what you might need. I did a comparison, I searched for all the apps on my iPhone in BlackBerry App World and I found about 60% of them. It had most of the utility apps I use daily, like Trapster and Shazam but none of the games.

Would I buy one?:
No, but that does not mean you shouldn’t. I don’t like how BlackBerrys work. People say I just need to get used to it, but I don’t see why I should have to. That said I know tons of people who picked up the Storm 2 and felt right at home, with the interface, the messaging, everything. The best piece of advice I can give you, is to pop into a VodaShop and tell them to show you one.

Brendon Ambrose
Editor

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