* Update: October 15, 2009 - Read CrackBerry.com's Official BlackBerry Storm2 Review. Click below! * 

BlackBerry Storm2 Review

** Video Removed as per the Request of the Hockey Lovers in Waterloo. **
Give Jim a Team Already and Make it Seven! 

* update: wow, apologies in the video for flipping around the device so much in my hands. must have had too much green tea this afternoon. *

Last week I got uhh... creative and errr.. in photoshop umm... chopped together some images of what a BlackBerry 9550 (aka BlackBerry "odin" aka BlackBerry Storm "2") would look like in my hands. The photos turned out pretty good, so I spent a little time working on my CGI / special effects skills and managed to render up the video above of how a pre-production BlackBerry Storm 9550 might also look in action! So yeah, I have no actual vid editing skills but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. ;)

Check out the movie to get a good sense of what the next-generation BlackBerry Storm is all about. Couple key things to point out: a) this is early hardware and very early software (newer versions of both the hardware and software already exist) so don't make any performance judgements just yet, and b) the device in the video does not have WiFi (at least according to the OS it's currently running) but rest-assured that all future CDMA BlackBerry smartphones to be released will have WiFi, including the Storm 9550.

As for initial reactions, here are my quick thoughts so far:

  • the hardware is much nicer - this is what Storm "1" should have been. It feels nicer in the hand and the concept is executed more cleanly. Improved engineering all around. Examples: better battery door integration (no need for "feet" for an ill-placed speaker port or hooks to hold the door in place; tighter tolerances (no gaps/light shining through); buttons are part of display
  • the click screen is more user-friendly - assuming when the 9550 hits the market the operating system is running as fast and smooth as it does on a non-touch BlackBerry, I *think* maybe I could give up my physical keyboard and make this my daily driver. Watch the video to see it in action. RIM's premise of separating navigation from confirmation is the same, but the actual SurePress / TruePress / Whatever It Gets Called technology is better. Definitely a better feeling while typing. The display still moves downward a bit (you can feel a physical movement as you push down) and the glass is solid.
  • the operating system is basically the same - the hardware in the video is running a version of OS 5.1, so with the Storm 9530/9500 to be upgraded to 5.0 soon, the basic device software difference between Storm 1 and Storm 2 will likely be negligible. The new Storm has more device memory so will be smoother running, but from a basic usage / visual / apps standpoint nothing major is changing.

In going hands-on with the 9550, it becomes clear that this next-generation Storm is really an evolution of the original Storm. Yes, it's better in every respect, but I'm getting the impression it's sort of like when a new model year of a car comes out - it doesn't make the old one instantly obsolete. If you think about the Storm 9530 owners who have stuck it through and invested time in their device (OS upgrades, learning the keyboard so you're quick on it, etc.) and are using it effectively now, they won't necessarily need to run out and buy the Storm 9550 the day it comes out as they're now expert 9530 users (though more memory on 9550 should make a big performance difference). But for the people who didn't have the patience to pick up and use the original Storm (and wait for upgrades which have improved the device a lot since its initial release), the Storm 9550 should be much more to your liking. One of the things a lot of existing BlackBerry users didn't like about the first Storm was that it felt un-BlackBerry. The Storm 9550 is getting the BlackBerry-goodness back. 

So what do you think so far? Any questions? What do you want to see? Let me know in the comments!!!