With its large and crisp touchscreen, 3.2 megapixel camera, sleek form factor, and a host of connectivity options, the BlackBerry Storm2 should be great. It packs upgraded performance, a tweaked user interface, enhanced operating system, and overall really works to make up for its previous generation's shortcomings. It even includes Wi-Fi, a first for Verizon-branded Storms.
Despite all of this, the end product is somehow lacking. The Storm2 makes up for its predecessor's shortcomings, but given the competition of large, touchscreen-based smartphones on Verizon, and the hordes of apps available for its prime target competitor, it's hard to give this BlackBerry a solid recommendation.
DESIGN & BUILD
It's hard to tell the Storm2 apart from its predecessor at first glance, but there are a few cosmetic changes. The chrome trim on the edges is subdued, and the function keys (Send, End, Menu, Escape) are now integrated as a part of the screen. The side buttons are a matte black and the headphone jack is now flush against the side of the device. Finally the top rocker button has a slight makeover where the left rocker key will first lock the phone, and then shut it down if depressed further. Other than these subtleties, the two can very easily be mistaken for one another.
The Storm2 sports a 3.25-inch, 360x480 display at 184 ppi, and delivers a crisp, sharp picture. The screen retains its clickability, though it does seem more responsive and more natural than the previous generation.
The display offers multiple types of interaction -- in certain applications, such as zooming in on the browser, just lightly touching the screen will drive behavior. In other applications, such as typing, the screen needs to be completely clicked in.
It recognizes multiple fingers for use in functions such as copying and pasting.
One annoyance I noticed almost immediately was clicking the integrated function keys at the bottom of the device. Sometimes the screen seems to stick around these buttons, forcing the user to click on the top of the screen first so that the bottom ‘pops' back out before it can be pressed again.
When you looked at the original Storm from certain angles, one could see a slight diamond latticework of gridlines, presumably sensors. This is not the case in the Storm2.
Size and Weight
The Storm2 feels heavy and solid in your hand, traits carried over from the first generation. Initially I could notice the added weight in my pocket, though it quickly becomes second nature.
Other Design Notes
One criticism of the physical design of this model is the placement of the volume keys. Like other BlackBerrys, the speaker during calls is plenty loud -- sometimes to a fault. When trying to dial down the volume, I often found myself unsure of which key I was pressing. If the keys were moved up slightly they would be in a more natural and comfortable position.
Research In Motion is nice enough to send a pair of headphones with integrated microphone along with most of its devices. Unfortunately for those who pick up the Storm2, this headset is the same as the entry-level Curve, and is mediocre at best. This contrasts with the Bold which ships with a great ear-bud headset with multiple buds. Given how badly RIM and Verizon needed to knock it out of the park to make up negative perception, I'm surprised to see this lower-quality headset in the box.
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