Research in Motion (RIM) has issued its response to Apple’s iPhone: the BlackBerry Storm.
The Storm is the latest in a stream of phones dominated by huge touchscreens, including the first Google Android phone, HTC’s G1 and Nokia’s 5800 XpressMusic.
Announced overnight in the US and Europe, the Storm has drawn immediate ooohs and ahhs for its design – but also bleats about its lack of wi-fi.
All Vodafone, all the time
In the US, Verizon Wireless (co-owned by Vodafone and Verizon) will be the BlackBerry Storm’s exclusive carrier, running the device on its EVDO network (that is, the same used by Telecom here). Vodafone will be the exclusive Storm bringer in Europe, where it’s releasing a HSDPA/3G Broadband version of the phone.
Vodafone New Zealand is announcing two BlackBerries today at 4pm. One will be the BlackBerry Bold – an incremental upgrade to the full QWERTY keyboard, widebody BlackBerry Curve, catering to RIM traditionalists, and sporting HSDPA/3G Broadband and wi-fi).
The second device is un-named but ... well, you join the dots. Check back to NBR.co.nz late afternoon for an update.
A third new BlackBerry contender, RIM’s first clamshell, the Pearl Flip will not see local release.
Storm rains on iPhone
Aside from its obvious support for BlackBerry’s famed “push” email (and its attendant monthly charges), the Storm has a couple of immediate advantages over the iPhone.
The Storm has a full HTML web browser, and supports the cut-and-paste so conspicuously lacking on Apple’s handset.
And while the Storm has almost the same dimensions as Apple’s smartphone, at 112.5 x 62.2 x 13.9 mm and 155g to the iPhone’s 115.5 x 62.1 x 12.3 mm and 133g. But although it’s slightly thicker and heavier, the Storm’s striking aesthetics have drawn immediate rave reviews, plus comments that it feels more robust.
The Storm also has the still camera advantage at 3.2 megapixels to the iPhone’s 2mP, and the video-shooting capability the iPhone lacks.
Both handsets share GPS and Bluetooth capability.
In keeping with BlackBerry’s new enthusiasm for lifestyle apps, Facebook’s mobile software is included, plus MediaSync, a cheeky piece of software for shifting your iTunes collection onto your RIM handset.
Why no wi-fi? Co-CEO of the Canadian-based RIM, Mike Lazaridis, points out, correctly, that wireless Ethernet is a battery-killer. But it’s still become a connectivity feature cherished by many smartphone users in an age when cellular data charges are ruinous in most countries, making wireless connection to a hotspot or computer attractive for many file transfers – or even the likes of Skype.
The Storm’s screen, at 3.25-inches, is slightly larger than the Nokia 5800 but a shade smaller than the iPhone’s 3.5-inches.
And like the Nokia 5800, the Storm also lacks iPhone’s multitouch features like the “pinch” for zooming in on a photo.
BlackBerry adds a new “confirm” tap for any gesture, which Lazaridis says was added in response to gripes from iPhone users that they often inadvertently selected or swiped the wrong thing onscreen. Whether this will lead to error-free or annoyingly slower tapping hangs in the balance. Initial reports have it that the Storm’s “ClickThrough” approach takes some getting used to, but is very accurate, and also fast once you’ve acclimatised.
See blog entry: Remove your hand from the BlackBerry, Mr President
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