The BlackBerry Storm2 9550 provides reliable performance, touch-screen technology that delivers new on-screen capabilities, and more connectivity options both domestically and abroad. The Storm2 9550 is also the first device RIM has shipped with the BlackBerry OS 5, which adds a number of enhancements.
Research In Motion's new BlackBerry Storm2 9550 smartphone is born of lessons learned, both good and bad.
Gone are the balky, unresponsive touch screen and laggy performance
that were the hallmarks of the device's predecessor. Instead, the
Storm2 9550 provides reliable performance, touch-screen technology that
delivers new on-screen capabilities, and more connectivity options both
domestically and abroad.
The Storm2 9550 is also the first device RIM has shipped with the
BlackBerry OS 5, which adds a number of enhancements for users,
particularly those working for companies already using the latest
version of BlackBerry Enterprise Server.
The BlackBerry Storm2 9550 (I'll just call it the Storm2 from here
on out) is available now on the Verizon network. With
month-to-month pricing, the Storm2 costs $540; with a two-year contract
and online discounts, the smartphone can be had for as little as $180.
The Storm2 measures in at 4.43 by 2.45 by 0.55 inches, and weighs
5.64 ounces--a slight, 0.14-ounce increase over the first iteration of
the Storm (the Blackberry Storm 9530).
Like its predecessor, the Storm2 comes with a 3.25-inch touch screen
with 480-by-360-pixel resolution. Unlike its predecessor, however, the
Storm2 ditches the mechanical subsystem used to provide a clickable
touch screen, using instead an all-electrical iteration of the
SurePress screen. According to BlackBerry representatives, the
Storm2 display "is mounted on four actuators that generate an impulse
when the screen is pressed."
Using the new SurePress screen is a little weird but oddly
effective, as it seems to combine the attributes of both a
resistive and a capacitive touch screen in the same device.
The pressure-based touch differences have allowed RIM to introduce
its own gesture language to Storm2 users. A single light tap
highlights a link or dialog box; a light double tap triggers a zoom
action; and users can flick the screen in any direction--left and right
to move around-as in a photo gallery or the pages of a presentation.
But most welcome is the up and down flick, along with a new feature
in BlackBerry OS 5.0 that allows for inertial scrolling. This action
lets users more easily scroll along in very long Websites or documents,
thereby alleviating one of the biggest annoyances I've had with
BlackBerry devices since they standardized on the trackball in the
majority of the device fleet.
This new screen technology promises multitouch capabilities, as well
as faster and more accurate typing than was possible with the Storm
9530. In my tests, I found the multitouch capabilities a little
underwhelming, due to some limitations with the sensor approach RIM has
For example, say I wanted to capitalize two letters in a row. This
would require me to hold down the Shift key for a few beats as I typed
the letters. If one of the letters was too close to the Shift key
(X seemed to be a particular problem for me), I found the Storm2 would
only occasionally recognize that I was trying to hit that key. In
the end, triggering the Shift Lock instead was a less frustrating means
to the same end.
As with every other on-screen keyboard implementation, users'
mileage will likely vary when it comes to typing speed and
accuracy. In my short time with the device, I did not find my
typing particularly fast or accurate, although I've been improving
However, I was grateful to see that various keyboard options are now
available to the user. For example, when in landscape viewing mode
(the accelerometer recognizes the shift in orientation to switch the
screen, as the iPhone does), the on-screen keyboard is QWERTY. In
portrait mode, the device defaults to a SureType keypad (organized like
the keyboard on a BlackBerry Pearl), but the user can easily change it
to QWERTY here, as well.
Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for eWEEK.com, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.