Review: New BlackBerry Storm improves on original

Nov 11, 2009 By RACHEL METZ , AP Technology Writer
In this Nov. 10, 2009 photo, the BlackBerry Storm2 for Verizon is shown in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Russel A. Daniels)

(AP) -- The first touch-screen BlackBerry phone, the Storm, got a few things right, but generally it was a chore to use.

Good thing a lot can change in a year. Though not without flaws, the latest version of the device, the Storm2, is the phone Ltd. should have released last year: It's faster, smarter and more fun to use.

The Storm2's face is still dominated by a large, bright touch screen. The buttons that previously sat just below the screen have been integrated, making most of the phone's face one big, slick slab.

From the start, I found the Storm2 more responsive and accurate than its predecessor. When I reviewed the original Storm last November, I found the screen often took an irritating amount of time to change from portrait to landscape mode when I flipped the phone to one side or another. On the new Storm, there's little to no delay.

Owing to the latest BlackBerry software, the phone also makes it easier to scroll through lists of contacts and messages, though I still sometimes wished the scrolling was even quicker to bypass a block of text or bevy of e-mails.

The Storm's virtual keyboard has been improved as well: I could type on it more easily and made fewer mistakes when sending e-mails and text messages.

One of the most noticeable features of the original Storm was its combination of touch screen with physical feedback - you could mouse around the screen with your finger, but needed to press down on the screen to complete an action like opening an application. Trouble was, it required some force to push.

The new Storm keeps the click, but it's a little easier to push on the screen. It has also learned a neat new trick: When the phone is off or asleep, the screen doesn't click (and, because they're all connected, the buttons below it don't move either).

If you're an application junkie, RIM's BlackBerry App World may not satiate your appetite. It's still just a fraction the size of Apple's App Store, which has more than 100,000 applications. Fortunately, the basics are there for keeping up with Facebook friends, communicating through the short-messaging site Twitter, listening to music and checking the news.

I was surprised that RIM didn't upgrade the Storm's 3.2 megapixel camera to one-up rival Inc. and its popular iPhone - especially as other phone makers including Motorola are incorporating cameras that leapfrog the 3 megapixels on the iPhone.

The Storm2 comes with a 16-gigabyte microSD card, doubling the amount of storage space for photos, videos and music.

And if you were bemoaning the lack of Wi-Fi on the first Storm, you'll be pleased to see it is included on the latest model.

Of course, aside from all the bells and whistles, a cell phone should be good for making calls. And while I had a strong reception nearly everywhere I took the Storm2, I didn't think calls sounded as clear as they could have. I also thought Web pages tended to load rather slowly, and photos on them appeared distorted several times.

The Storm2, which came out in late October, is available from Verizon Wireless for $179 with a two-year contract and after a rebate.

It isn't likely to be a game changer, but it is clear that RIM recognized and fixed the glaring problems found in the first version. If you were intrigued by the Storm last year but were nervous about making the commitment, chances are you'll be happier with it this time around.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Gift Guide: Strong photo, video gear options

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

BlackBerry Storm 2 coming soon (w/ Video)

Oct 20, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- RIM are soon to release their updated BlackBerry, the Storm 2 smart phone, with a more streamlined design and touch-sensitive buttons instead of the hardware buttons of the first version.

Review: Motorola's Cliq is a snappy smart phone

Oct 21, 2009

(AP) -- Imagine how you'd feel if you peaked in middle school. That's pretty much what happened to cell phone maker Motorola Inc., which had a megahit in 2005 with its Razr handset but has since failed to ...

Recommended for you

Ear-check via phone can ease path to diagnosis

Dec 18, 2014

Ear infections are common in babies and young children. That it is a frequent reason for young children's visit to doctors comes as no consolation for the parents of babies tugging at their ears and crying ...

Gift Guide: Home products come with connectivity

Dec 18, 2014

Do you really need an app to tell you to brush and floss? It seems every household appliance is getting some smarts these days, meaning some connection to a phone app and the broader Internet. But then what?

BlackBerry launches Classic in last-ditch effort

Dec 17, 2014

(AP)—BlackBerry is returning to its roots with a new phone that features a traditional keyboard at a time when rival Apple and Android phones—and most smartphone customers—have embraced touch screens.

Tag Heuer changes tune, now looking at smartwatches

Dec 16, 2014

Barely a few months after dismissing Apple's smartwatch, the new chief executive of luxury Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer conceded Tuesday that such a hi-tech gadget might after all have a place in his firm's ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.