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Posted on October 15th, 2009 by Jonathan Bray

BlackBerry Storm 2 review: first look


So RIM has dumped the mechanical click screen of the original Storm completely and has replaced it with a brand new system. And having spent nearly an hour in the company of its successor – the BlackBerry Storm 2 – I can confirm that it’s a huge improvement.

The Storm 2 uses a system of four software-controlled electro-mechanical actuators (which sit behind the screen), to give a sort of localised haptic feedback. Press the screen anywhere on its surface and it gives feedback in response – but this is like no other feedback vibration I’ve experienced before. Incredibly, pressing the screen feels just like clicking a button, and it’s very responsive too.

Coupled with the BlackBerry OS’s effective auto correction, I managed to get up to a rapid typing speed instantly, and because it’s multitouch, you don’t have to wait to finish one key press before beginning another.


It really is a revelation to type on, whether it’s being used in portrait or full Qwerty landscape mode. I’ve always preferred hardware keyboards, but this could finally sway me. I’ll reserve final judgement for when I’ve had a longer play with the phone (expect a review very soon).

I do have reservations, however, and the first is that, at times, it felt as if it might be too sensitive – more than once I found myself holding the phone and clicking by accident. Also, RIM has yet to implement a rival to the iPhone’s pinch-to-zoom gesture in its web browser, preferring the simpler, yet less-effective, double tap to zoom approach.

How about the rest of the phone, though? Well, The first thing you’ll notice is that it’s sleeker, with formerly sharp edges softened and corners rounded a little. The new screen system also means there’s no unsightly gap around the edges of the display for dust and crumbs to collect in.


The speaker has moved from the rear of the phone to the bottom edge and the phyiscal buttons below the screen have been replaced . Otherwise it’s a very similar size and weight to the original.


The screen is the same size as before – measuring 3.25in and boasting a 360 x 480 resolution that offers dark blacks and good contrast. The battery is identical – a 1,400mAh lithium polymer unit. The camera is still 3.2-megapixels with an LED flash and there’s assisted GPS, and all the usual smartphone toys: Bluetooth, ambient light , proximity and accelerometer sensors.

However, version 5 of the BlackBerry OS makes its debut. One new feature demonstrated to us this morning was the “flying cursor” and multitouch text-select facility (pictured below). Again it looks like someone at RIM has been putting serious thought into this: it’s straightforward to fire up and the large, finger-friendly handles used to adjust the selection make it easy to get precisely the selection you need.


Other additions include direct access to the connections menu and clock screen from the home screen, plus an all new version of BlackBerry Messenger.

The touchscreen and OS aren’t the only additions, either. With the Storm 2, RIM has filled the gaping hole in the first Storm’s specification and added Wi-Fi. Storage has been boosted too, from just 128MB of flash memory to 256MB plus a further 2GB for data storage.


Suffice to say, I walked away from my brief demo this morning very impressed indeed. In completely revamping the touchscreen, RIM has made an extremely brave move and one that looks like it could pay off.

We’re expecting a review sample to arrive very soon, so watch this space for our final verdict.

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52 Responses to “ BlackBerry Storm 2 review: first look ”

  1. P Kerai Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    How is the browser compared to the iPhone browser? Is it webkit-based yet?

  2. Scott Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Did you notice anything about being able to turn off the shutter sound? That’s one of my main annoyances with the current Storm. There is absolutely no setting to turn off that annoying, pointless sound.

  3. anon Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    By law all phones with a camera must make some sort of noise to indicate that a picture has been taken. If that is the noise you are referring too.

  4. anon Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    By law in the US, the rest of the world shouldn’t be punished for their inane laws

  5. anon Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Actually, original razr’s (Up to the V3c line) could disable the shutter sound on the phone. As well, the Samsung A746 can also disable the shutter noise completely. Its not actually a law yet (In canada or the US)

  6. anon Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Random thought, how difficult is the pinching move to do with one hand. Browsing/zooming standing up on a moving train is doable as a double tap is the zoom in and the bb esc is zoom out.

  7. john Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    “By law all phones with a camera must make some sort of noise to indicate that a picture has been taken. If that is the noise you are referring too.”

    Blatantly untrue. You can easily turn off the shutter sound on an iPhone.

  8. linker3000 Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    POP3/IMAP/SMTP native support? If not, forget it.

  9. brian Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    linker3000 – it’s a blackberry. They always have full POP3/IMAP/SMTP support.

  10. JoeK Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    I just got the original Storm. I have no problem with the screen. I like the tactile click feeling, I don’t want to be accidentally clicking which is what the reviewer even admits happens with this new screen. Don’t need it.

  11. jc Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    “Blatantly untrue. You can easily turn off the shutter sound on an iPhone.”

    I don’t think you can do this?… I have a 3GS, and I can’t find this option. And I believe it is an upcoming law which is intended for all the picture snapping pervs out there.

  12. ak Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    I have a 3GS in the USA and if you flip the phone’s silent switch it does indeed turn off the camera shutter.

  13. N Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    I can turn off the shutter sound on my G1.

  14. ka Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    linker3000 – it’s a blackberry. They always have full POP3/IMAP/SMTP support

    It needs to have exchange support instead of that crap of a blackberry server.

  15. B Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Did they add a lock screen option while on the phone?

  16. Nathan D Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    I second “ka” when I say that exchange active-sync would be infinitely better than the Blackberry Enterprise Server.

  17. Shelly Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    @B: Crackberry reported it has a “Face Detection Feature”.

    “…a proximity sensor that powers down the display when the phone is next to your ear on a call. Simply start talking with the BlackBerry Storm2 against your ear and the screen powers down – no more ear typing! As soon as you pull the phone away from your ear the screen powers on and you can enable calling features (mute, speakerphone, etc.).”

  18. Mr Foo Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    The reason you dont see “pinch zoom” anywhere but on the iPhone is because Apple has it Patented.

  19. bc Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    How about a wireless network connector? That’s what I feel is the biggest drawback to my current Storm. We all have wireless networks at home nowadays.

  20. Mr Foo Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    @Camera Noise. It is not a law yet:

  21. bc Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Will Blackberry or anyone be supporting Java in the near future?

  22. anon Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    @Mr Foo: Err… except on Android, though. I can pinch-zoom webpages with the default browser (though not Google Maps, annoyingly)

  23. jt Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    The Palm Pre has pinch zoom as well.

  24. baobei Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    The Blackberry OS is written in Java.

    It supports native and J2ME Java applications.

    So the answer is yes, Blackberry has for some time, supported Java.

  25. james Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    Hmmm this looks way too similar to my current storm, In a years time when I go to upgrade im not so sure that ill be going for this. Maybe the Iphone 4g instead???

  26. ack Says:
    October 16th, 2009 at 12:03 am

    linker3000 – it’s a blackberry. They always have full POP3/IMAP/SMTP support

    ka – It needs to have exchange support instead of that crap of a blackberry server.

    Yeah! None of that crappy internet RFC smtp! use the real microsoft stuff!

  27. Tuviah Says:
    October 16th, 2009 at 4:55 am

    Did they fix their crap browser yet? Nope. doesn’t have js on by default, support Ajax or do css right. Do they bundle opera mini at least. Nope. Nothings changed the phone is still crap compared to the iPhone.

  28. robert Says:
    October 16th, 2009 at 5:29 am

    Yes, you can disable the camera click noise on the iPhone, put the phone in silent\vibrate mode – that’s it. You can plug in a headset on a blackbery and that will silence the flash – but it SHOULD respect your ringing profile pref and NOT make noise when on silent (silly rim).

  29. Jonathan Bray Says:
    October 16th, 2009 at 9:21 am

    B – just to clarify, the phone does indeed switch off the screen sensors (automatically) while you’re on the phone. That was one of the problems with the original, mechanical, button apparently – people kept clicking it with their faces by accident.

  30. Paul Ockenden Says:
    October 16th, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Several people above don’t seem to understand how Blackberry email works. First off there’s NO native POP3/IMAP email support on the device itself. Basically there are two options: the first is called BIS (BlackBerry Internet Service), and it’s essentially a big email hoover sitting on RIMs servers. It polls your existing SMTP and IMAP servers every 15 minutes (or less if there’s an ongoing conversation), and then pushes the emails out to the device.

    The second option is called BES (Or BlackBerry Enterprise Service). You don’t use this instead of Exchange Server – you use it alongside. It connects to your corporate email system (be it Exchange, Domino or Groupwise), and then, via RIM’s NOC (network operations centre), it keeps the device in sync with your enterprise mailbox.

    There are arguments for and against NOC based push email – I’ve covered these extensively in PC Pro’s Mobile & Wireless column.

    The main thing often missing from BlackBerry reviews (and so somewhat surprising to people when they go to buy one) is that you have to pay a premium to use them, because of the NOC infrastructure. Typically a fiver a month for BIS and a tenner for BES, although some networks charge substantially more than this.

  31. Linker3000 Says:
    October 16th, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks Paul for that excellent summary of the POP3/IMAP issue.

    The lack of native support for those protocols (without a java kludge), which equates to a RIM lock-in to BIS or BES, in this day and age is just plain crazy (or a ‘revenue stream’ if seen from Blackberry’s side of the fence!).

    I support 16 corporate Managers who have succummed to the cult of the Blackberry but I’ll keep my HTC Touch Pro 2, thanks!

  32. Paul Ockenden Says:
    October 16th, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    You’re right, Linker3000, yet despite that I still reckon that Blackberry is the best platform for people that have email as the main use for their smartphone.

    And that includes me. In my toybox I’ve got loads of recent phones, Windows Mobile, Nokia, Android, etc. And each day I can pick the one that I’m going to carry. And almost every day it’s either a BlackBerry 8900, or a Bold (where I now I’m going to be in areas with dodgy mobile signals, and so having the extra 3G radio on board gives another choice for data and voice).

    In fact, I can’t wait to get my hands on a production copy of the Bold 9700 (Full feature set of a Bold, size of a curve) – I suspect it’s that which is due to become the really killer BlackBerry over the next year or so, not the Storm2, good as it is.

    October 16th, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    “The reason you dont see “pinch zoom” anywhere but on the iPhone is because Apple has it Patented.”

    HTC Hero i.e Android platform can pinch zoom

  34. Robby Says:
    October 17th, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    As long as the app still installed to the RAM…. blackberry will be a bad option as you need to restart every now and then….

    My bold need a restart twice a day now, and it became very slooooow… and when you think that 256Mb Tour can be better, it’s a big mistake….

  35. Pete B Says:
    October 17th, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Storm 2 or Iphone my predicament right now! ny contract is up with Vodafone i can either have a storm 2 on the 26th and stay put or move to o2 and get an iphone, one thing that may sway it is Storm 2 is free on a £35 contract or pay £87 for the iphone on a £35 contract, the iphone needs to lose the £87 if the storm 2 is ok, I like Blackberry they are very good reliable phones until the storm 1 came along and ruined the reliability history, if the 2 is better its a close thing – is the iphone really worth paying the extra £87 for , mmmm not so sure.

  36. Jason Says:
    October 18th, 2009 at 2:43 am

    Pete B, the Iphone is no longer exclusive to 02 , so it will be coming out on Vodafone and Orange , so look out for deals if you want one.

  37. Robby Says:
    October 18th, 2009 at 5:22 am

    Pete B depends on what type of things you use the phone for….
    Touchscreen – iphone is better… too big gap to compare… iphone touchscreen is state of the art
    Browsing – forget blackberry
    Games – tens of thousands of games versus…. iphone clear winner
    productivity app – iphone win
    screen – storm 2 should be better in terms of sharpness
    email – both the same
    chatting – I think this is the only thing you’ll have to choose for a blackberry compared to iphone… iPhone is trying to fix themselves to have better IM but the way the iphone check, view, reply an IM drain the battery a lot… and it is not quick enough,,,

    Blackberry is only if chatting and email is your main purpose to have a phone!!!
    Email function is easily substitute by iphone’s mail… but chatting is different thing

  38. davidf Says:
    October 19th, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Any plans to add Direct push so the Storm can connect driectly with an exchange server?.
    This is paramount to my customers as yet they are all buying Iphones.

  39. JonB Says:
    October 19th, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    In a corproate environment (we have 160 Blackberries) a BES is essential. It provides management of the Blackberries, such as being able to wipe all data if they have been reported as lost. We can also enforce passwords and a whole lot more via policies, as well as being able to download apps to the users. The calendar, contact list and task list are also synchronised with Exchange, which I believe the iPhone doesn’t do.

  40. Wayne Says:
    October 19th, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    The iPhone does full synchronisation with Exchange – I have it working great on my iPhone 3GS. iPhones have had Exchange support since software version 2.0. It’s a shame that Blackberry don’t provide Exchange support for individual users who cannot afford BES.

  41. Paul Ockenden Says:
    October 21st, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    @Wayne, BES Express is free for a single CAL.

  42. ding_jimmy Says:
    October 21st, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    BES Express is free and comes with one free CAL, but you still have to fork out upto £35 a month extra for the BES data package in order to use it.

  43. pay as you go mobile phones Says:
    October 27th, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    The New Blackberry Storm 2 based on the ARM Processor is more powerful then some of the notebook powered by Intel atom, and the best thing about this mini super computer is that it fits in your pocket.

    Soon the Blackberry Storm 2 will be available on pay as you go plan from many of the UK’s top service providers such as Vodafone.

  44. tony Says:
    November 10th, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Mr Foo Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 7:44 pm
    The reason you dont see “pinch zoom” anywhere but on the iPhone is because Apple has it Patented.

    thats absolute rubbish, pinch and zoom is available on my g2! its all down to multi touch!

  45. Says:
    November 12th, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Now the iPhone is on all networks i think the storm 2 is going to be competition that we haven’t seen in a while against Apple.

    Although “Tony” is correct, Apple have not patented the “pinch and zoom”. i think overall the blackberry is better if your on a budget because you can get discounted line rental plans whereas the iPhone tariffs are the same everywhere you search.

  46. Claire Says:
    November 25th, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    Does anyone know how to turn the menu off on the main page, i only want to have the menu when i click on it and id rather have a full photo on the main page instead of the picture and half the menu on the main page??? Please help if you can …

  47. webguy Says:
    January 5th, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    My favorite Blackberry storm 9530 i love it alot

  48. Deborah Says:
    February 4th, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    I’m a recent convert to the Blackberry family, with a BB Storm 2. The first handset has been replaced after 2 weeks as it dropped the phone signal, eventually after just 15 secs. The replacement arrived today, it sounds like I’m under water and I only hear part words. I’ve used mobiles for years in this area and have never experienced these problems. Does anyone else have problems with phone conversations?

  49. logan Says:
    April 17th, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    the new storm 2 is much better than the storm 1. faster, better touch screen, good phone. great to surf the internet and go on facebook. good reception where i live never drops calls. gets a lot of flack but i love it. got a couple off of and another one of ustronics. definately worth buying and i’m happy i did.

  50. SEO company Says:
    April 21st, 2010 at 6:39 am

    I have just gifted my BB storm to my friend. not a good experience with it..

  51. stu Says:
    July 21st, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    does it text and make phone calls if the answer is yes its better than mine because mine is broke and i want a new phone and im looking on here and all of yous talk computer speak the queens english so question dose it make calls and send and recive texts

  52. Karl Says:
    March 24th, 2011 at 5:55 am

    I like this smartphone over the iPhone because of the click-screen that verifies data entry. It take time to learn just like any other phone with every device and the BlackBerry Storm is not excluded. After a few weeks of use, it is a solid performer. The feature that attracted me is the sync proceedure with Outlook, it is clean and easy. If there were bugs at one time, I have not encountered any.


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