Update to Storm and BlackBerry OS gives smartphone a welcome spit and polish...
BlackBerry-maker RIM has unveiled its second touchscreen device, the Storm2.
The Storm2, announced in May this year, will be released exclusively on Vodafone's network on a £35 per month contract and will be available from 26 October, with the operator already taking pre-orders.
The device runs BlackBerry OS 5, and comes with GPS, a 3.2-megapixel camera and 2GB of onboard memory.
Needless to say, the Storm2 will also be compatible with RIM's app store, BlackBerry App World.
The company released its first touchscreen device, the Storm, around a year ago, also on Vodafone's network.
Unlike the first Storm handset, the Storm2 comes with wi-fi - "a key thing that was missing from Storm1 that our users demanded", according to Rob Orr, senior director of product management EMEA at RIM.
Wi-fi is not the only addition to the Storm family. With Storm2, RIM has tweaked the SurePress touchscreen input technology first used on the original Storm. Users still need to click the touchscreen to confirm a selection but the underlying mechanism has changed.
Orr told silicon.com today that rather than having one big mechanical button beneath the screen, Storm2 has multiple electromechanical buttons - in order to make the screen more responsive. This also means typing and multikey commands are now easier to execute as more than one area of the screen can be pressed at once.
(Photo credit: RIM)
"You get a much more consistent experience clicking," he said. "With Storm1 if you pressed the button you had to wait to release the button before you could press the next."
RIM has also improved the auto-correction algorithm for typing, according to Orr, to "better predict what you're trying to do and to say". "If you start to trust the system you will type much much more accurately, much much faster," he added.
Orr said there are lots of other "refinements" evident in the Storm2 - including tweaks to processes such as copy and paste and simple searches, while the speaker has been moved from the back to the bottom of the device.
The BlackBerry OS 5 also brings threaded SMS and a full Qwerty keyboard as well as a SureType keyboard in portrait mode. There's kinetic scrolling too. Orr said users of the original Storm device will be able to get all the additional features by upgrading to OS 5 over the air "in due course".
Asked whether OS 5 brings any improvements to the native web browser, Orr said the company believes browser speed will be 20 or 30 per cent faster. More radical browser developments look to be in the pipeline too.
"[The web browser is] an area that we continue to evolve and develop. We announced recently the acquisition of Torch Mobile and whilst we're not talking about future product releases that obviously states our intent as a company to continue to invest and improve our browsing experience.
"We announced recently availability of our widget-based SDK. As we move to this much more information-rich mobile browsing experience we have to look to bring all these new technologies into our development platform," Orr said.
silicon.com's Jo Best contributed to this report