Price: depends on contract
Company: RIM (BlackBerry)
The BlackBerry Storm2 is the Storm that we wish RIM had released last year - this BlackBerry's build, the on-screen keyboard, and the software are miles beyond the first generation. Even so, pressing to type still takes some getting used to.
RIM's first touchscreen device - the BlackBerry Storm - received a lukewarm reception last year. But when the BlackBerry Storm 2 debuts in the UK in October 2009, it will be well worth your consideration.
In measurements and display size, the BlackBerry Storm2 is identical to its predecessor. It weighs just slightly more than the original Storm. If you put the two handsets side by side, however, the older Storm looks clunkier.
All of the buttons on the BlackBerry Storm2 are more recessed, making for a more streamlined design. Hardware buttons no longer run below the display; instead, the new handset offers touch-sensitive buttons there. And unlike with the first model, on this version you won't see a crack between where the display ends and the keys start - this alone puts the BlackBerry Storm2 aeons beyond the Storm in design aesthetics.
The absence of that (somewhat disturbing) crack is due to the new SurePress technology, which is now electronic rather than mechanical. You still have to push down to type or select an application, but the BlackBerry Storm2 no longer feels wobbly or clumsy to press.
In the original Storm, the mechanical SurePress interface was often inaccurate: You'd press one application, and another would activate.
Without getting too technical, the difference in the two generations lies underneath the display. The original Storm was in essence one big suspended button mounted below the screen's centre point. Below the BlackBerry Storm2's hood, in contrast, four activators sense when you're pressing on the screen. This design allows for a more stable navigating experience.
We had a much easier time typing on the BlackBerry Storm2's keyboard than on the original's, but we still can't get accustomed to pushing down on a display to type. We know that it is supposed to feel more natural than a typical touch keyboard, but we prefer the physical BlackBerry keyboards. We do like how you can hold down the Shift key and a letter to capitalise it, as you would on a physical keyboard. (A colleague with larger hands had more difficulty typing on it than I did, however.)
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 BlackBerry Storm2'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.