Verizon BlackBerry Storm 2 9550 impressions and details

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blackberry storm 9550

The new BlackBerry Storm 2 9550 by Verizon is shaping up to be the BlackBerry touchscreen device we’ve all been waiting for. I remember back when Mike Lazaridis was taking criticism for the original Storm and his response was “sorry it was the number 3 selling smartphone in North America. I wish it could have been number 1.” Well this is the second time out the gate and they definitely have it right this time.

Will sales of the Storm 2 beat the original Storm? If the hardware is the deciding factor I would say yes. But what about all those who have bought the original Storm? How many will upgrade? How many new touchscreen BlackBerry users will this device convert? These are all questions that will have to wait to be answered until after the device launches, which we expect to happen in early November. Some are suggesting late October and this could also be true. We’re seeing a lot of leaks happening which means we are approaching launch date. Until then, lets take a look at the pre-release version of the Verizon BlackBerry Storm 2 aka 9550.

blackberry_storm_2_

Something to keep in mind about this article is that it’s about a pre-release device. While the form factor will remain, it’s hard to say what will happen to the software. Also, it’s difficult to say what iteration of 9550 I have in my hands. I have heard rumors that the Storm 2 has gone through over 8 iterations as the RIM continually improves on the touch interface and the end user experience.

blackberry_storm_2_4

As previous leaks have mentioned, the latest BlackBerry Storm 9550 has some technology under the hood that makes for a much better typing experience. While the first BlackBerry Storm had a single contact point, the latest BlackBerry shows four contact points, dispersed equidistant to each other across the touch screen. It’s just speculation but this is largely what makes the typing experience so much better on the Storm 9550.

The touchscreen is really what you first fall in love with about the device. With my original Storm, it had a bit of a shake to it, and it felt a little loose in its casing. The BlackBerry Storm 9550 doesn’t have this in the slightest. The screen is a rock solid piece of glass, and pressing the screen really gives you a feeling of confidence.

blackberry_storm_2_2

As you can see from the pictures, the outside of the device has had some significant changes. The major change is obviously the Call, End, Return and Menu buttons are built into the screen, rather than being separated. While using our pre-release device, I found that at first the keys were slightly unresponsive, but a battery pull really helped. Because these buttons are now, and I’m assuming here, driven by software rather than physical keys, much of their stability and usability are dependent on your device’s performance. Again, this is one of the downsides of reviewing a pre-release device, you’re trying to comment on something that isn’t a finished product, so there’s really no telling if it will be like that when it launches. Other form factor changes include the side keys which are now rubber. This adds some durability to the device.

blackberry_storm_2_3

The typing experience is definitely improved on the BlackBerry Storm 2. Once you pick up the device and start typing, you can feel yourself getting to speeds that are closer to that of the QWERTY devices. It is really apparent that the new multi-contact point system means you can be pressing keys much faster and the device has no problem recognizing the letters. While I was making mistakes, it was a huge leap over the Storm 1.

blackberry_storm_2_5

When we first posted about the Storm 2, we asked BlackBerry Cool readers what they would like to know about the device, many readers asked questions that we simply can’t answer such as exact release dates and carriers, but there are a few we can address. Many readers wanted to know about the battery life. I really can’t say this battery is a huge improvement in any way over the original Storm. I was able to use the Storm 2 for an entire day without fully draining the battery, but any power user will tell you that regular battery charges are common for a BlackBerry.

blackberry_storm_2_7

The camera on the BlackBerry Storm 9550 is a standard BlackBerry camera. It’s a 3.2 megapixel camera, and the video quality seemed about the same. The pre-release Storm 2 I was using still had the camera lag that I experienced with the Storm 1, but it was slightly better. Camera lag is one of those issues that will certainly be addressed when the device officially launches, and being a software issue, I can’t say anything for certain about it given this isn’t the final version of the device.

The media player is slightly improved on the Storm 2 which is great considering this will be a device heavily marketed to the consumer space. If you use the speaker often, you’ll like the fact that the speaker is located at the bottom of the device, meaning you get better sound quality as it sits on your desk.

Verizon Storm 2 - 9550 (2)

As you can see from the above picture, this device is using OS version 5.0.0.164. I can’t say for sure if this is the OS that the 9550 will have when it launches, but there are some decent improvements that I can see already. One of the most obvious changes is that the device finally has threaded text messaging. There are also some minor changes such as menu transitions and the overall responsiveness of the device has been improved. Switching from portrait to landscape was completely seamless and there was almost zero lag.

When RIM acquired Torch Mobile, it became official that they were developing a WebKit based browser and that we can expect a browser comparable to other smartphones such as the iPhone. It is really too bad that we aren’t getting that browser on this device, because the Storm 2 could have greatly benefited from it. While the browser was slightly better, it wasn’t anything spectacular. I really appreciated the ability to browse over WiFi, even though the device has 3G. As we mentioned before, the device now has multi-touch support, which is great for things such as copy and paste, but I was really hoping to be able to zoom in and out using two fingers as per the iPhone. Again, being a pre-release device, this may come when the device launches, but I doubt it. This sort of functionality will likely come with the WebKit browser that’s in development.

Overall, this device makes for a much more solid touchscreen smartphone experience. So many of the issues that I had with the Storm 1, which were all software related, have largely been addressed. What’s really positive is that this device isn’t even a finished product, and it already feels like a winner. Once we get closer to launch, we’ll see even more software improvements, which go a long way in making the end user experience better.

We’ll continue to post about the Storm 9550 and get around to answering more of your questions about the device. As we draw closer to launch, we’ll probably get our hands on an updated Storm 9550 which could prove to be even more solid than the one we’re using now.

  • CJ

    I love my Storm and every time I hear/read someone complaining about the typing experience I find myself thinking that the speaker/writer is an “idiot” of the highest magnitude. I’ve owned 3 touchscreen phones and I can honestly say that the typing experience on my Storm hasn’t been any different than on my iPhone or my Omnia. I look forward to the Storm 2 hitting the market. I’m sure we’ll have the usual cast of characters complaining about typing n it too.

  • CJ

    I love my Storm and every time I hear/read someone complaining about the typing experience I find myself thinking that the speaker/writer is an “idiot” of the highest magnitude. I’ve owned 3 touchscreen phones and I can honestly say that the typing experience on my Storm hasn’t been any different than on my iPhone or my Omnia. I look forward to the Storm 2 hitting the market. I’m sure we’ll have the usual cast of characters complaining about typing n it too.

  • CJ

    I love my Storm and every time I hear/read someone complaining about the typing experience I find myself thinking that the speaker/writer is an “idiot” of the highest magnitude. I’ve owned 3 touchscreen phones and I can honestly say that the typing experience on my Storm hasn’t been any different than on my iPhone or my Omnia. I look forward to the Storm 2 hitting the market. I’m sure we’ll have the usual cast of characters complaining about typing n it too.

  • http://gsoto.com/ Gabriel

    Piece of crap.

  • http://gsoto.com Gabriel

    Piece of crap.

  • Sam K

    Since they’re marking this as an update to the original Storm, they should have included a better screen and a better camera. The resolution of the screen is still 480 x 360, the same as the Tour, 8900 and upcoming 9700 and their screens are all about half the size of the Storm. They should have made the screen resolution 800 x 480 which is the same as several other touch screen phones out there and they should have also put in a 5 megapixel camera instead of the same 3.2 megapixel camera. When the “average” consumer compares the Storm 1 and Storm 2 side by side, they won’t see any spec differences, even if the touch screen technology is better in the Storm 2. I think RIM dropped the ball on this one even though I think it will still sell pretty well. It will get much better reviews than the Storm 1 because of the software improvements.

  • Sam K

    Since they’re marking this as an update to the original Storm, they should have included a better screen and a better camera. The resolution of the screen is still 480 x 360, the same as the Tour, 8900 and upcoming 9700 and their screens are all about half the size of the Storm. They should have made the screen resolution 800 x 480 which is the same as several other touch screen phones out there and they should have also put in a 5 megapixel camera instead of the same 3.2 megapixel camera. When the “average” consumer compares the Storm 1 and Storm 2 side by side, they won’t see any spec differences, even if the touch screen technology is better in the Storm 2. I think RIM dropped the ball on this one even though I think it will still sell pretty well. It will get much better reviews than the Storm 1 because of the software improvements.

  • Sam K

    Since they’re marking this as an update to the original Storm, they should have included a better screen and a better camera. The resolution of the screen is still 480 x 360, the same as the Tour, 8900 and upcoming 9700 and their screens are all about half the size of the Storm. They should have made the screen resolution 800 x 480 which is the same as several other touch screen phones out there and they should have also put in a 5 megapixel camera instead of the same 3.2 megapixel camera. When the “average” consumer compares the Storm 1 and Storm 2 side by side, they won’t see any spec differences, even if the touch screen technology is better in the Storm 2. I think RIM dropped the ball on this one even though I think it will still sell pretty well. It will get much better reviews than the Storm 1 because of the software improvements.

  • Realist

    CJ you’re a liar.

    “The usual cast of characters”?

    The device was universally panned for its poor performance. It’s not as if a couple kids on the Internet just started a hate campaign.

  • Realist

    CJ you’re a liar.

    “The usual cast of characters”?

    The device was universally panned for its poor performance. It’s not as if a couple kids on the Internet just started a hate campaign.

  • Rich

    according to my verizon rep, the launch date is october 25th

  • Rich

    according to my verizon rep, the launch date is october 25th

  • Rich

    according to my verizon rep, the launch date is october 25th

  • cletis

    @CJ: At the time I bought my Storm, I had never even tried an iPhone, and I discounted the conecpt of a touchscreen keyboard out of hand. then when the Storm came out, I let myself be seduced by the large, vibrant screen and convinced myself that the SurePress technology would make the phone superior to the iPhone.

    Well, it didn’t, and the second iteration of the device is of course proof of that. I can say, however, that since buying my Storm, I have used an iPhone once to take its owner to a specific web address, and I have to say that after about 10 seconds of getting used to it, it was a far superior touchscreen typing experience than the Storm 1. Still crap, because I still think that no touchscreen keyboard can compare to real buttons — especially the BEST KEYBOARD RIM EVER MADE AND WHICH THEY SHOULD BRING BACK but they won’t because they think they need to make every new phone smaller than the ones before — my good old 7250 keyboard. Ah, I miss it so.

    Will the Storm 2 be better than the Storm 1? No doubt. Will it actually be good compared to a physical keyboard? I doubt it. Why RIM doesn’t just ditch this stoopid touchscreen idea and make a phone with the same size (or larger) widescreen but with either a slide-out or clamshell keyboard I don’t know. Idiots.

  • cletis

    @CJ: At the time I bought my Storm, I had never even tried an iPhone, and I discounted the conecpt of a touchscreen keyboard out of hand. then when the Storm came out, I let myself be seduced by the large, vibrant screen and convinced myself that the SurePress technology would make the phone superior to the iPhone.

    Well, it didn’t, and the second iteration of the device is of course proof of that. I can say, however, that since buying my Storm, I have used an iPhone once to take its owner to a specific web address, and I have to say that after about 10 seconds of getting used to it, it was a far superior touchscreen typing experience than the Storm 1. Still crap, because I still think that no touchscreen keyboard can compare to real buttons — especially the BEST KEYBOARD RIM EVER MADE AND WHICH THEY SHOULD BRING BACK but they won’t because they think they need to make every new phone smaller than the ones before — my good old 7250 keyboard. Ah, I miss it so.

    Will the Storm 2 be better than the Storm 1? No doubt. Will it actually be good compared to a physical keyboard? I doubt it. Why RIM doesn’t just ditch this stoopid touchscreen idea and make a phone with the same size (or larger) widescreen but with either a slide-out or clamshell keyboard I don’t know. Idiots.

  • NDonline

    I appreciate that every person has a different typing style/preference, but I have to say that the typing experience on the Storm is pretty terrible and I find that very hard to argue. Very hard. I use an iPod Touch and can fire through messages on that. The Storm, can’t keep up with typing and the predictive text is mind-blowingly awful. SMS or short emails are ok, but I find myself consistently frustrated with typing messages on the device. I love it otherwise, it’s just the typing that makes me want to throw it out of a moving vehicle.

  • NDonline

    I appreciate that every person has a different typing style/preference, but I have to say that the typing experience on the Storm is pretty terrible and I find that very hard to argue. Very hard. I use an iPod Touch and can fire through messages on that. The Storm, can’t keep up with typing and the predictive text is mind-blowingly awful. SMS or short emails are ok, but I find myself consistently frustrated with typing messages on the device. I love it otherwise, it’s just the typing that makes me want to throw it out of a moving vehicle.

  • NDonline

    I appreciate that every person has a different typing style/preference, but I have to say that the typing experience on the Storm is pretty terrible and I find that very hard to argue. Very hard. I use an iPod Touch and can fire through messages on that. The Storm, can’t keep up with typing and the predictive text is mind-blowingly awful. SMS or short emails are ok, but I find myself consistently frustrated with typing messages on the device. I love it otherwise, it’s just the typing that makes me want to throw it out of a moving vehicle.

  • k

    why would vzw launch on a Sunday?

  • k

    why would vzw launch on a Sunday?

  • Mr. Dan

    I think the tour launched on a Sunday

  • Mr. Dan

    I think the tour launched on a Sunday

  • Nathan

    So, is it official that VZW will let it launch with WiFi?

  • Nathan

    So, is it official that VZW will let it launch with WiFi?

  • Brian

    I’m completely new to Blackberry. I’m currently on a Palm 755P. I was wondering if you can use more than one app at a time on the Storm 2. On the 755p, I cannot accesss my calendar and/or address book while I’m using the cell phone function. Is this different on the Storm 2?

  • Brian

    I’m completely new to Blackberry. I’m currently on a Palm 755P. I was wondering if you can use more than one app at a time on the Storm 2. On the 755p, I cannot accesss my calendar and/or address book while I’m using the cell phone function. Is this different on the Storm 2?

  • oleophis

    @cletis why is it that you say RIM should ditch the touch screen thing but not every other phone maker?

    i own the storm 1 and can say that i don’t understand what people mean when they say it’s terrible, bad or whatever you want to call it. i have absolutely no problem tapping out texts, emails or im’s. i owned the G1 prior to that and prior to the G1 i owned the iphone (for 3 months). i got to say that tapping out a text was easier on the iphone but it was also easier to make mistakes as well. to me the iphone was crap, the G1 was crap and i love the storm 1. please explain to me why the storm is considered such a bad phone, i keep hearing that it’s bad but no explanations.

  • oleophis

    @cletis why is it that you say RIM should ditch the touch screen thing but not every other phone maker?

    i own the storm 1 and can say that i don’t understand what people mean when they say it’s terrible, bad or whatever you want to call it. i have absolutely no problem tapping out texts, emails or im’s. i owned the G1 prior to that and prior to the G1 i owned the iphone (for 3 months). i got to say that tapping out a text was easier on the iphone but it was also easier to make mistakes as well. to me the iphone was crap, the G1 was crap and i love the storm 1. please explain to me why the storm is considered such a bad phone, i keep hearing that it’s bad but no explanations.

  • oleophis

    @cletis why is it that you say RIM should ditch the touch screen thing but not every other phone maker?

    i own the storm 1 and can say that i don’t understand what people mean when they say it’s terrible, bad or whatever you want to call it. i have absolutely no problem tapping out texts, emails or im’s. i owned the G1 prior to that and prior to the G1 i owned the iphone (for 3 months). i got to say that tapping out a text was easier on the iphone but it was also easier to make mistakes as well. to me the iphone was crap, the G1 was crap and i love the storm 1. please explain to me why the storm is considered such a bad phone, i keep hearing that it’s bad but no explanations.

  • PJ

    I can’t wait. I purchased the Storm 1 from Verizon Wireless but really didn’t like the touchscreen (took too long to type) so I sent it back. I’m hoping this new phone will be much better. I REALLY liked that fact that the Storm 1 had a very low SAR rating (both head and body)…..I refuse to buy anything with a high rating. So, I’m also hoping the new Storm will have a very low rating. We’ll see.

  • PJ

    I can’t wait. I purchased the Storm 1 from Verizon Wireless but really didn’t like the touchscreen (took too long to type) so I sent it back. I’m hoping this new phone will be much better. I REALLY liked that fact that the Storm 1 had a very low SAR rating (both head and body)…..I refuse to buy anything with a high rating. So, I’m also hoping the new Storm will have a very low rating. We’ll see.

  • Post

    I have had my storm since day one and i have only experinced problems and lags after i downloaded new applications.I cannot wait for the storm two to hit the stores but my question is this is the storm two really going to have more on board memory than the first and will there be more memory for applications.I have seen all the rumors and they say there will be more on the storm 2 has anybody got a for sure answer or a website that states this?

  • PJ

    Now CJ…that would be great. Keep the large screen and add a keyboard instead of the touchscreen!

  • Post

    I have had my storm since day one and i have only experinced problems and lags after i downloaded new applications.I cannot wait for the storm two to hit the stores but my question is this is the storm two really going to have more on board memory than the first and will there be more memory for applications.I have seen all the rumors and they say there will be more on the storm 2 has anybody got a for sure answer or a website that states this?

  • PJ

    Now CJ…that would be great. Keep the large screen and add a keyboard instead of the touchscreen!

  • Gary

    I love it every time I read a story about blackberry and see “A battery pull seemed to fix ….” How does anyone put up with such a bad OS?

  • Gary

    I love it every time I read a story about blackberry and see “A battery pull seemed to fix ….” How does anyone put up with such a bad OS?

  • neil

    It seems to me a key question not addressed is the memory capacity and utilization of same for applications. Although storm 2 may have increased application memory (256 v. 128). I am reading where the new device still will not allow paging out applications to either internal memory or onto the sd card. As you know, this is something available to Windows based OS devices.
    What is quite strange is how BB establishes an app world then proceeds to circumscribe the # of apps that can be installed? Makes you wonder where bb’s marketing department was when at the time storm 2 was in the developement stage?

    Neil

  • neil

    It seems to me a key question not addressed is the memory capacity and utilization of same for applications. Although storm 2 may have increased application memory (256 v. 128). I am reading where the new device still will not allow paging out applications to either internal memory or onto the sd card. As you know, this is something available to Windows based OS devices.
    What is quite strange is how BB establishes an app world then proceeds to circumscribe the # of apps that can be installed? Makes you wonder where bb’s marketing department was when at the time storm 2 was in the developement stage?

    Neil

  • PLK

    I would like to see you pull the battery in the iPhone…oh wait…

    But I guess it is not necessary to do such a thing.

    I have had the Storm 1 from day 1 as well and thought it was great until the touch screen went on it. It lasted about 9 months. The second one lasted only one month until I pulled the battery and it never woke up again. On the third now…we’ll see how this one goes…

  • PLK

    I would like to see you pull the battery in the iPhone…oh wait…

    But I guess it is not necessary to do such a thing.

    I have had the Storm 1 from day 1 as well and thought it was great until the touch screen went on it. It lasted about 9 months. The second one lasted only one month until I pulled the battery and it never woke up again. On the third now…we’ll see how this one goes…

  • soco_jon

    first of i would like to say that i bought the storm the DAY it came out (as did many) and i can honestly say it was bittersweet.it lagged terribly and the sure press got some getting used to but i can say as of today i am very satisfied with what it has become due to software upgrades. i am running a leaked OS 5 (.230) and i believe it is up to par with the iphone minus the browser.but through every leaked os it just got better and better. typing is a breeze and the lag is virtually GONE!.If anybody remembers, the iphone was very crappy when it first came out too.now with the storm2, the addidtion of wi-fi is a great plus and the new browswer they arew working on, im hoping, will blow most competition out of the water.

    @ Cletis..LG, Samsung, and many other mamufactures make slide out & clamshell devices and if thats your preference, then youre more than welcome to buy one of those devices. RIM doesnt make them and to call them idiots is rather…idiotic. They make a touchscreen device, as does apple and as does WinMo to cater to the people that WANT a touchscreen device…makes sense doesnt it? dont buy a touchscreen device w/o a qwerty keyboard or physical keyboard if you…want a physical keyboard, right? Right.

    @ Brian..Blackberries are multi-tasking kings!! you can do just about anything while making a call.note i said, just ABOUT anything. accessing youre calendar, contacts and various other native and 3rd party apps while on a call is basic functionality on a blackberry. get one, you’ll love it.

    @ Sam K..i agree with you on the fact that they should ave better specs as far as screen resolution but as far as a bigger megapixel camera…it doesnt seem to make sense on a phone and im not trying to bash you but alot of people ask for things that dont really have knowledge in. more megapixels doesnt mean AT ALL better quality.what makes quiality is camera LENSE and the size of photo youre PRINTING out. the only thing a BIGGER megapixel camera does is make a BIGGER file WHICH makes it longer to upload and impossible to send to other people whom dont have alot of memory on their phone or cant receive files over a certain amount of KB or MB. head over to this website i found to better understand it…

    http://www.digitalcamerareview.com/default.asp?newsID=3005

    as for the Storm2..cant wait.

  • soco_jon

    first of i would like to say that i bought the storm the DAY it came out (as did many) and i can honestly say it was bittersweet.it lagged terribly and the sure press got some getting used to but i can say as of today i am very satisfied with what it has become due to software upgrades. i am running a leaked OS 5 (.230) and i believe it is up to par with the iphone minus the browser.but through every leaked os it just got better and better. typing is a breeze and the lag is virtually GONE!.If anybody remembers, the iphone was very crappy when it first came out too.now with the storm2, the addidtion of wi-fi is a great plus and the new browswer they arew working on, im hoping, will blow most competition out of the water.

    @ Cletis..LG, Samsung, and many other mamufactures make slide out & clamshell devices and if thats your preference, then youre more than welcome to buy one of those devices. RIM doesnt make them and to call them idiots is rather…idiotic. They make a touchscreen device, as does apple and as does WinMo to cater to the people that WANT a touchscreen device…makes sense doesnt it? dont buy a touchscreen device w/o a qwerty keyboard or physical keyboard if you…want a physical keyboard, right? Right.

    @ Brian..Blackberries are multi-tasking kings!! you can do just about anything while making a call.note i said, just ABOUT anything. accessing youre calendar, contacts and various other native and 3rd party apps while on a call is basic functionality on a blackberry. get one, you’ll love it.

    @ Sam K..i agree with you on the fact that they should ave better specs as far as screen resolution but as far as a bigger megapixel camera…it doesnt seem to make sense on a phone and im not trying to bash you but alot of people ask for things that dont really have knowledge in. more megapixels doesnt mean AT ALL better quality.what makes quiality is camera LENSE and the size of photo youre PRINTING out. the only thing a BIGGER megapixel camera does is make a BIGGER file WHICH makes it longer to upload and impossible to send to other people whom dont have alot of memory on their phone or cant receive files over a certain amount of KB or MB. head over to this website i found to better understand it…

    http://www.digitalcamerareview.com/default.asp?newsID=3005

    as for the Storm2..cant wait.

  • JKIA

    “I love it every time I read a story about blackberry and see “A battery pull seemed to fix ….” How does anyone put up with such a bad OS?”

    Question here is have you ever used a Windows Mobile device. LOL you are very childish. I have the Storm 1 and very comfy with it. Typing is not an issue if you put some belief in suretype. To each their own. I just think the negative press S1 recieved from the jump stuck. I am one of the lucky few who have actually physically touched the S2. Believe me it is a major improvement. If you want an iPhone go get one.

  • JKIA

    “I love it every time I read a story about blackberry and see “A battery pull seemed to fix ….” How does anyone put up with such a bad OS?”

    Question here is have you ever used a Windows Mobile device. LOL you are very childish. I have the Storm 1 and very comfy with it. Typing is not an issue if you put some belief in suretype. To each their own. I just think the negative press S1 recieved from the jump stuck. I am one of the lucky few who have actually physically touched the S2. Believe me it is a major improvement. If you want an iPhone go get one.

  • bbgeek

    If I get it unlocked will it work on att since it’s a world phone? Or would be best to get it from Rogers in Canada? Not sure if att will ever release one.

  • bbgeek

    If I get it unlocked will it work on att since it’s a world phone? Or would be best to get it from Rogers in Canada? Not sure if att will ever release one.

  • krupa

    we asked hundreds if questions and you answered one? you guys fuckin suck

  • krupa

    we asked hundreds if questions and you answered one? you guys fuckin suck

  • David

    Thank you for the review. Hopefully, you can provide an update when you receive the actual release version…one comment though, I noticed that it has Bluetooth version 1.1. Isn’t v. 2.01 the latest?