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16.11.09

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Brothers and sisters, if there was one thing last year's Storm made clear, it's this: You don't rush a product to market just because it's the holiday season. That's what RIM did last year, and the Storm was a mess. You'd tap one menu item, and a different one would highlight. You'd flick a list of phone numbers, and it'd stop scrolling the instant your finger stopped (no momentum). You'd turn the phone 90 degrees and wait till your next birthday for the image to rotate.

The Storm 2 fixes all of that. Bugs are out, list momentum is in, screen rotation is instantaneous.

The original Storm's big gimmick was that the entire screen was clickable, like a mouse button — but it wound up requiring too much effort to press the on-screen keys, like a manual typewriter. The Storm 2's redesigned clickable screen requires far less effort; it also loses its clickiness when you're on a call or the phone is off.

The Storm 2 can now exploit the speed of Wi-Fi Internet hot spots, and boasts an impeccable checklist of goodies: autofocus camera, voice dialing, memory-card slot (a 16-gigabyte card is included) and so on. It even works overseas, thanks to a slot for a GSM account card (the network type most countries use).

I still don't get the point of the clicky screen, though. It still has dual feedback mechanisms — colored highlighting on the screen means one thing, a click means something else — that often clash. For example, every time you swipe to scroll a list, your finger highlights the list item it first touched, alarmingly.

blackberry storm-2Typing is faster on this screen, because you don't have to fully lift Finger A before pushing down with Finger B (using the Shift key is especially improved for this reason). But it's still not a true multitouch-screen, and using the Web browser is still slow and fumbly. Isn't the Web browser the primary point of an all-screen phone? Otherwise, why not get a regular BlackBerry?

The Storm 2 will make many more people happy than the original Storm, but try it in a store before you buy; the clicky-screen bit isn't for everyone.

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