BlackBerry Storm goes on sale in UK

The first touchscreen BlackBerry smartphone has been made available to UK customers, exclusively through Vodafone

RIM's first touchscreen handset, the BlackBerry Storm, went on sale in the UK on Friday.

The device is available exclusively through Vodafone, which worked closely with RIM in defining the specifications for the Storm. The handset has an unusual 3.25-inch, 480-by-360-pixel, clickable touchscreen — the largest screen on a BlackBerry thus far — that is designed to give users tactile feedback when they type or select icons.

The image on the screen rotates as the phone is turned on its side, enabling a full Qwerty virtual keyboard.

Other manufacturers have been making touchscreen handsets for quite some time. Windows Mobile phones, which provide RIM's main competition in the business-user sector, have been available in touch-enabled variants for around six years.

The BlackBerry Storm has high-speed 3G connectivity, but no Wi-Fi — an omission that could put it at a disadvantage against some of its chief rivals, such as the iPhone, the T-Mobile G1 Android phone or many of HTC's Windows Mobile handsets. The BlackBerry Storm also has built-in GPS and a 3.2-megapixel camera.

Business customers in the UK can get the Storm for free from Vodafone if they sign up to a contract. The monthly tariffs are cheapest with a 24-month contract, costing from £29.79 per month. Those wishing to sign up for an 18-month contract will have to pay at least £34.03 per month. Both of these prices exclude VAT.