BlackBerry Storm2 9520 review: Back in Black... Berry

GSMArena team, 08 January 2010.
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Retail package

Considering the high price tag we find the BlackBerry Storm2 retail package fairly modest. There is no memory card included and the supplied one-piece handsfree looks second-rate. There is a leather carrying case supplied so it's not all bad.

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The Storm2 box contents

The other items in the box are a charger and microUSB data cable. As you can see in the shots, there's also a user guide and a CD with the software required for synching your handset with a computer and that's all.

BlackBerry Storm2 9520 360-degree spin

Standing at 112.5 x 62.2 x 14 mm the BlackBerry Storm2 9520 is identically-sized to its predecessor. This is fairly large in general phone terms but about what you'd expect in a handset with a 3.25" display.

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The shot is hardly revealing but the Storm2 feels well bulkier than the Apple iPhone 3GS

The weight has been increased by 5 grams to 160 which is quite heavy. The Nokia N97 weighs a good 10 grams less even though it packs a QWERTY keyboard and a larger screen.We do appreciate the solid feel though and are willing to accept the above average weight.

Design and construction

The BlackBerry Storm2 9520 sports some nice design improvements over the original Storm. For one, the four keys at the bottom now blend with the display and are part of the consistent touchscreen experience, not to mention the illusion they create of an even larger display. Also the side keys are now black instead of silver and are much more inline with the general styling of the device.

The rest of the design pretty much sticks to the original, the metallic battery cover and the sleek top with invisible buttons still our favorites. Combined with the solid weight, the nice exterior gives the Storm2 the feel to match the price tag.

Most of the front of the BlackBerry Storm2 9520 is taken by the magnificent 3.25" piezo-electric display. Its picture quality is among the best we have seen from RIM and this is quite an achievement given the consistently good BlackBerry screens.

The 360 x 480 resolution is hardly remarkable as we can easily think of a number of handsets that come with several times the pixel count but the image quality is splendid. The contrast and brightness are top-notch, easily among the best we have seen on an LCD screen.

The sunlight legibility is also great, the display easily maintaining readability and colors even in the brightest sun.

BlackBerry Storm2 9520
The 3.25" display of the Storm2 has excellent image quality

Now for the really interesting part - the piezo-electric technology that stands behind the touchscreen operation. If you don't have much experience with either of the Storm devices you might be led to believe they use the same clicking screen but that would be wrong. OK, not totally wrong perhaps, as the user experience is similar, but the improved performance of the Storm2 is certainly welcome.

The screen surface is a regular capacitive touchscreen, which responds to the lightest of touches, bare fingers only though (no gloves or stylus).

However, the Storm2 interface uses the tap-to-select and press-to-confirm logic. So, a tap will only highlight an app or a menu item. If you want to activate it, you will need to apply some pressure and push the whole display down.

On the original Storm the whole display was one regular big-ass button. Now with the piezo-electric enhancement, the screen now is much softer to touch. The piezzo technology is also said to allow multi-touch input, which wasn't possible with the SurePress on the original Storm.

You're not to expect pinch zoom or anything on the Strom2 but multi touch support is quite relevant to typing - think two-key combos like Shift + whatever. The reduced effort will also make sure your fingers are less tired after longer typing on the handset.

Because the Storm itself takes part in the display movement, pressing it down isn't possible when the phone is off - the screen won't click unless you power it up.

The new technology of the BlackBerry Storm2 9520 brings both positives and negatives but it's pretty clear where its strength lies. Typing has never been a touchscreen forte but the Storm2 is the closest you will get to a hardware QWERTY keyboard. Quite a lot of users complained about their hands getting tired after writing a few emails on their original Storms but we guess the situation has notably improved.

Anyway, the whole clickable screen thing only makes sense perhaps in BlackBerry terms. What makes a BlackBerry handset is messaging after all, and QWERTY and adding touchscreen to the equation shouldn't change things much.

But in regular touchscreen terms, the extra step (tap-to-select, press-to-confirm) is more of a disadvantage. In any case, we would strongly advise to try it in person before dropping the cash. And this will involve at least an hour or two of typing and navigating, not just a 5 minute trial.

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