RIM BlackBerry Storm2 9550 Preview
Keep in mind that this is a preproduction unit we are previewing in this article. There is likely to be software changes before the retail unit is released, and therefore our experience is subject to change.
After a lackluster debut into the touchscreen arena RIM’s second effort aims to right the wrongs of SurePress with the BlackBerry Storm2 9550. The clickable screen has stayed, but undergone major reconstruction. There are now four sensors registering your input, as opposed to just one on the original. This allows for multiple inputs to be registered at the same time, which greatly improves the typing experience. Otherwise the device remains very similar to the original Storm 9530.
Visually there isn’t a lot of difference between the 9530 and the newer Storm2 9550. The overall feel is very much the same, and again one of the first things to catch our attention was the weight of the device. We unofficially measured it at 111.1 x 60.3 x 14.3mm which is comparable to the original’s 112.5 x 62.2 x 13.9mm. The battery door latch mechanism is similar to the one found on the 8520, which is a welcome change. The side keys are now rubber instead of silver, again taking their design cue from the 8520.
The largest design difference is the function keys below of the screen. On the original these were four physical buttons, separate from each other. This time around these are using the same technology as the screen. We’re hoping that our prototype unit is still working out some kinks, but those buttons drove us crazy. We were only able to activate them about a third of the time; we’re not sure if it’s the Piezo technology or just a defect, but most of the times we tried to press them they were rigid and unmovable. At other times they gave way very easily however, just like the rest of the screen, so it seems the Piezo is at work not allowing us to select. Any improvement in screen technology is negated by these keys, which made our experience maddening. We have to believe that this will be fixed by production.
The screen is indeed better to use. The wiggle is gone, and we can no longer see the circuit board along the edges of the display. It is less tiring to use (or perhaps our thumbs have just gotten stronger!) and the multiple input sensors make typing much more accurate. This time around autocorrect was able to fix most of our mistakes, but not quite all. In a typical message we’d have to manually correct one or two words, which is leagues better than the original. It also does a better job of replicating the feel of a physical keyboard, but it is still well behind the Tour’s physical keyboard.