Research In Motion’s BlackBerry Storm 2 will be available to Verizon Wireless customers Wednesday, according to the carrier.
Like its predecessor, the BlackBerry Storm 2 will feature a touch screen. Unlike the BlackBerry Storm, though, the Storm 2’s SurePress “clickable” display doesn’t actually move (except for around corners). Instead, the display provides an electronic feedback that mimics the feeling of a click. It also features multi-touch support, allowing users to click two keys (like shift plus a letter) on the virtual keyboard at the same time.Aside from a revamped touch screen, the Storm 2 offers built-in Wi-Fi and EV-DO Revision A. The Storm 2 provides global support, allowing users to make calls and get 3G data overseas, thanks to an included SIM card. The phone comes with 256MB of flash memory, and 2GB of “onboard” memory. It also ships with a 16GB MicroSD card.The Storm 2 runs BlackBerry OS 5.0. According to Verizon, the new software will improve the device’s typing and selection accuracy. It also features more use of animations.
The Storm 2 has a 3.2-megapixel camera and video recording. The phone comes with BlackBerry Maps, which allows users to access turn-by-turn directions and maps, and to find local businesses. RIM has also included Verizon’s VZ Navigator service, which adds voice-guided directions, but costs an additional $9.99 per month.Like some of the latest BlackBerry smartphones, the Storm 2 will provide access to the BlackBerry App World. It also supports Verizon’s tethering service.
The phone features a removable battery that, according to Verizon Wireless, will offer up to 5.5 hours of talk time. It asserts that the battery will last for 11 days on standby.
When the Storm 2 hits store shelves for $179.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate, both RIM and Verizon will be hoping that users have forgotten about the mistakes made in the original BlackBerry Storm. That phone’s touch screen and software annoyances yielded some unhappy customers. It also failed to break three stars in a CNET review last year.That said, Bonnie Cha at CNET Reviews had an opportunity to check out a near-final version of the Storm 2 recently. According to Cha, the Storm 2’s SurePress touch screen is much improved over its predecessor. She was also happy to see Wi-Fi make its way to the follow-up smartphone. Still, she found that the software reset spontaneously at times and that, overall, the GPS performance was sub-par.
Better late than never, the Palm Pre finally hits town this Friday and more specifically, the O2 network. Will it sell? Well, according to a new TNS survey it will, eclipsing the original iPhone if those views translate into sales.
According to market research firm TNS, 26 per cent of users questioned said they would definitely or probably buy the Palm Pre, considerably higher than the 16 per cent who said they would buy an iPhone in 2007. Encouragingly for O2, that figure is even higher (27 per cent) when its own customers were surveyed. The poll of 1,003 adults aged 16-64 also found that 32 per cent of mobile users currently on other networks are likely to switch to O2 in order to get hold of the Palm Pre.
Kevin Evans, associate director at TNS Technology, said: ‘The Palm Pre is already being touted as the ‘iPhone killer’ and our research certainly suggests it’s going to shake up the market.’
‘The decision to offer the Pre free to those on a 24-month contract is in sharp contrast to the £269 price of the iPhone at its launch, while the launch timing capitalises on the fact that thousands of UK iPhone early-adopters are approaching the end of their 18-month contract period, while the next-generation iPhone is not expected until next June.’
But will it really hit those dizzy sales heights? The handset might be free, but only on a two-year tie-in and with a minimum cost of £34.26. And while many iPhone users might be ending their deals with O2, there’s no reason why they would dump the iPhone and grab a Pre instead. With the Blackberry Storm 2 also appearing around the same time, not to mention a steady succession of tasty Android phones and the usual selection of slimline fashion phones, there’s a lot of choice out there. The Palm Pre will certainly do well, but we’re far from convinced that it’s going to scoop up over a quarter of the mobile market overnight.