*See photos and video below*
Early reviews of the new Storm 2 suggest that it's an improvement on its predecessor, with an enhanced touchscreen -- but it doesn't look likely to displace the iPhone or other touchscreen smartphones.
As is, the BlackBerry Storm 2 is certainly an improvement over its predecessor, but it wouldn't be our first choice for a touch-screen smartphone.
Laptop Magazine says it's "really more like a do-over than a sequel" and TechRadar writes that the Storm 2 is "very much an improvement over the original Storm, but it's evolutionary rather than revolutionary."
Crackberry explains that the Blackberry Storm 2 is a relatively modest update on the previous model that isn't overly ambitious:
It's clear that Research in Motion's thought process here was simply to build a better BlackBerry Storm. They weren't thinking about building an iPhone killer or worrying about what Palm is up to with their Web OS or what the next wave of Android phones might look like. RIM looked at the original BlackBerry Storm, assessed where it was great, where it was good, where it was bad and where it was ugly and they fixed it.
The touch capabilities of the phone have definitely been improved, early reviews report.
The buttons at the bottom have been changed to "soft keys" (in place of physical keys), and the phone contains new SurePress technology that makes the screen more sensitive, less "wobbly", and more responsive to multitouch pressing.
PC Magazine says:
It's capable of registering two presses at the same time, such as when holding Shift while pressing a letter key. The final result: localized haptic feedback that feels natural. The screen doesn't wiggle around in its perch anymore. Going back and forth between the two Storms, I could type more accurately and more quickly on the new screen--starting from the very first sentence. You get real physical feedback. It's still a little stiff, so prepare for cramped fingers after extended typing sessions.
The phone also comes with Wi-Fi, a camera, GPS capabilities, more memory, and the newest Blackberry OS (version 5).
However, PC Magazine reports that the Storm 2 has "unimpressive Web browsing and [an] underpowered camera."
Walt Mossberg also notes that the Blackberry Storm 2 browser is still "inferior to Apple's, Google's and Palm's," but the touchscreen is big step up from the previous Storm model:
The screen now stays still when tapped, providing tactile feedback electronically instead of mechanically. This allows for faster, smoother typing.
The Washington Post on its touchscreen:
One interesting thing to note: RIM studied the way people typed on touch keyboards, and found that, while typing quickly, they often briefly held down two keys at once. The Storm 2's keyboard mimics that by having both keys respond when you press them, thus making typing faster. And of course, the keyboard has RIM's excellent SureType predictive-text entry, which facilitates speedy typing.
According to a Verizon press release, the Blackberry Storm 2 will be selling for $179.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate.
See a short video of the Blackberry Storm 2 hands on from EnGadget: