BlackBerry Storm 2 9520

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As the saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed... that’s also apparently RIM’s moto. While they have launched new devices recently including this, the Storm 2, they don’t seem to be doing much in terms of design, just upgrading of specs here and there to beef up an existing device's appeal. You’ll hear no complaints, well not too many at least about that fact. It seemed like RIM just didn’t get the whole SurePress Touchscreen bit right the first time with the Storm, among other facets, so here we are with the Storm 2 that was designed to fill the holes it’s predecessor left. Here’s what’s new with the Storm 2.

Form Factor
A few subtle changes have been made to the overall design. The separated buttons below the display have now given way to a set of touch sensitive keys in their stead. The touchscreen display is still 3.25-inches with a 360 x 480 pixel resolution; however the SurePress panel has been replaced with a standard, fixed capacitive touchscreen. The technology for the SurePress, button like screen system is still very evident though. Thanks to the addition of a Wi-Fi antenna and the added 1GB (total of 2GB built-in) of internal memory the weight of the device has gone up by 5g to 160g. Speaking of memory, the predecessor was equipped to handle just 8GB of external memory while the Storm 2 can handle up to 32GB.

Even though the dimensions are almost identical, give or take a couple of millimeters in breadth, the Storm 2 somehow looks sleeker than the original. Instead of the chrome lines and buttons the Strom 2 is an all black handset with rubberized keys. The placement of the keys hasn’t changed though. The hot-swap microSD card slot is also still under the real panel near the battery compartment.

The good part is the screen doesn’t move when you shake it, the bad part is its a little heaver now. I liked the design then and I still think it’s an impress piece of hardware in the looks department.

Features and Performance

Upgraded to the new BlackBerry OS version 5 RIM has still retained the 528 MHz processor which was a bad idea. However they have upped Flash memory from 128MB to 256MB. There’s a visible difference in speed of conducting operations from navigation to start up and even just accessing and opening features and settings. The updated OS may not look all that dissimilar from the older one but if you’re transitioning from an old handset to one with version 5 you’ll notice the subtle changes. The accelerometer is quick but just a little too sensitive. I like the newer SurePress system. It’s got a certain stability to it and the whole button, haptic, touchscreen also makes typing a little easier than it was with the Storm.

The OS even though relatively finger friendly throughout, with stubby fingers like mine, the copy function can be a quite a hassle. It’s well designed but unlike the iPhone’s it will require you to have slim fingers even if you use large fonts. The virtual keypads occupy almost 50% if not more of the display so when it comes to chatting you have just a tiny window to see the text and forget about the history. The new auto-correct/complete functionality while typing is personally a little obtrusive but those used to it will find it speeds up your typing quite a bit.

There’s not a whole lot much introduced to the media section. The music player is still as good as it was and the EQ presets as well as Audio Boost option add considerable enhancement to overall audio for videos and music. The video player will read most of the popular video formats including .AVI (DivX, XviD). Playback is smooth and display is very conducive to watching full length movies with a strain on your eyes.

The BlackBerry is one of the foremost handsets for the business person and therefore incorporates all the necessary connectivity you’d need. Of course this is what we all thought till they launched the Storm sans Wi-Fi. Well that’s been dealt with and the Storm 2 comes with everything from 3G, to EDGE/GPRS, WAP support, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (upgraded to 2.1 + EDR) and of course USB 2.0 for PC connectivity. The problem with RIM’s devices is that as versatile and loaded with connectivity as some may be, all of it largely depends on the service providers plans that you’re tied to – Vodafone, Airtel, Reliance et al. The browser, or should I say browsers (always seems like a waste having three) still lack Flash support which limits viewing of websites in full glory. Setting up emails is never an issue if you’ve got your plans in place.

Facebook and Gtalk as well as MSN Messenger and BlackBerry’s own messenger services are provided but for more you can simply download tons of content for social networking or other uses from BlackBerry’s AppWorld. The handset’s camera supports Geotagging but all you’ll see is a blank slate of a location as Blackberry Maps still don’t support our beloved country. Google Maps Zindabad!

Misc. Features
All the basics are covered from a calendar that syncs your Google and Facebook accounts, an alarm clock, Memo Pad etc. Documents to Go will allow you to open MS document files but you won’t be able to edit them nor create new files. For that you’ll have to invest in the Premium edition. This is seriously something RIM should consider providing as part of the package considering the price tags the handsets come with. There’s still no PDF reader although PDF attachments can be read. BlockBreaker and Word Mole are the only two games preinstalled. You can download more off of AppWorld. The Voice dialing functionality of this BlackBerry isn’t any different from the others but that’s never a bad thing.

The 3.2MP autofocus camera has an LED flash and image quality is really quite good. It offers a close up mode which is handy for macro shots and other basic features like White Balance, Image Stabilization and a few color effects are available. It records video in 480 x 352 resolution. Videos also manage to come out quite clear and easy to view on the handset and PC.

The Storm 2’s 1400mAh battery can deliver up to a day and a half of usage if location services and Wi-Fi are active. Shut them down and that’ll boost it up to 2 days and change. Talktime averaged in at about 4 hours which is pretty decent although one expects more. However, if you do want that number to go up you’ll have to shut off the mail services and switch to manual downloading, which defeats the purpose of the handset’s core functionality.

The Bottom Line
The Storm 2 has a price tag of Rs. 31,990. That’s a bit steep but so was the Storm when it first hit shelves. At least this next generation version comes with Wi-Fi and additional memory. Save the Curve 8520 RIM’s handsets are known for their high price but that doesn’t matter to users who will swear by them and I know these same individuals will stand by this one as well. Personally the Storm 2 is a few steps better than its predecessor but still has a few of the same minor issues as all the other devices like a read only version of Documents to Go and, no Indian friendly BlackBerry Maps and the lack of Flash support. There’s something to be said for consistence I guess, but not when even the negatives are consistent.

Nevertheless the Storm 2 is still a good handset that Blackberry users will clamor for. Its only competition is their own Bold 9700 if touchscreens are not your thing.

Published Date: Apr 01, 2010 04:24 pm | Updated Date: Apr 01, 2010 04:24 pm