The BlackBerry Storm, the first BlackBerry to feature a touch-screen like Apple's iPhone, will be available later this fall, according to Research In Motion, Verizon Wireless (exclusive U.S. carrier) and Vodafone Group (Europe, India, Australia and New Zealand). Pricing is expected to be announced as the companies get closer to launch.
The phone features a "clickable" touch-screen that "responds much like a physical keyboard", yet also supports single-touch, multi-touch and gestures, similar to the iPhone. The Storm will operate on Verizon's EV-DO Rev. A network for high-speed data downloads, but lacks any Wi-Fi connectivity. That seems like a big mistake in my book.
Sure, EV-DO might be faster than the UMTS or HSPA networks offered by AT&T Wireless and its iPhone 3G, but the ability to access much faster Wi-Fi networks makes a smart phone even better. It seems short-sighted to leave out Wi-Fi just because carriers want users to access their mobile broadband network. The company is hindering the adoption of data usage by limiting access to just the wireless WAN. Others may feel that having no Wi-Fi on the device is a sacrifice they're willing to make, but having used several smart phones with Wi-Fi on it, I'd have to say that Wi-Fi is a must-have – when Wi-Fi is available, it makes the user experience that much better and data access goes that much faster.
Other iPhone-like qualities on the Storm include a built-in accelerometer, which lets users switch between landscape and portrait modes as the device is rotated. When in portrait mode, users can type messages with RIM's SureType keyboard layout – when they rotate to landscape, they get a full QWERTY on-screen keyboard.
The Storm features an HTML Web browser that lets users double-tap to zoom in and slide their fingers to scroll/pan, and will support file downloads, streaming audio and video, and built-in RSS support.
On the messaging front, the Storm supports personal and corporate e-mail, text messaging, picture messaging and instant messaging services, as well as access to social networking sites.
More "personal" features include a 3.2 megapixel digital camera with variable zoom, auto focus and flash (unsure whether this can be disabled); built-in GPS with support for location-based applications, as well as the ability to geotag photos, and a media player for audio and video. The device includes 1GB of onboard memory storage and a microSD/SDHD card slot with support up to 16GB of extra storage space.
On the plus side, the Storm will have a removable rechargeable battery, something the iPhone lacks.