updated 08:00 am EDT, Thu October 15, 2009
Storm2 brings Wi-Fi, new touchscreen
RIM today at last released the BlackBerry Storm2, its second touchscreen phone. The new model has a sleeker design that centers on a much-improved 480x360 touchscreen; rather than slow down users by actually moving the screen inwards, it uses a piezoelectric system that replicates physical feedback but still allows two-finger input. It's also the first Storm to have Wi-Fi and is much faster through carrying twice as much memory as the original.
Vodafone is the first carrier to offer the Storm2 and offers it in its 9520 form, which only supports European HSPA but allows quad-band GSM and EDGE. Its version should be available October 26th in Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK; France, Italy and South Africa get the handset later in the year.
Verizon is known to be getting the Storm2 very soon. RIM has already confirmed that its version (the 9550) will be virtually identical except for the addition of CDMA for calls and EVDO for 3G data.
The handset is likely to be crucial to RIM's image. Although BlackBerry shipments reached a record high this past summer, analysts believe the phones lost market share this quarter and have cast doubts on RIM's ability to compete against touchscreen devices like the iPhone. Sales of the original Storm were lackluster as the combination of a rushed launch as well as complaints about the click-down screen and absence of Wi-Fi steered users either to conventional BlackBerries or to competitors.