Verizon Nabs Storm 2, Pushes OS 5.0

The touchscreen Blackberry smartphone mimics the feeling of a physical keyboard and adds Wi-Fi to its 3G capabilities.






Blackberry Storm 2
(click for image gallery)

Verizon Wireless said Monday it will be offering Research In Motion's BlackBerry Storm 2. The carrier also will be providing over-the-air updates of BlackBerry operating system 5.0 to older models.

The Storm 2's touchscreen BlackBerry looks very similar to that of the first Storm, but the new handset focuses on refining the typing experience. RIM's smartphones are heralded for their mobile messaging capabilities, but the Storm's touchscreen typing was generally hit-or-miss with consumers.

RIM said the Storm 2 uses an electronic suspension system to mimic the feeling of hitting physical keys, and it can handle multiple inputs simultaneously, enabling users to type a letter with one finger even as another finger is striking a different "key."

The Storm 2 is still a BlackBerry, which means it can integrate well into corporate Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino, and Novell GroupWise setups. Storm 2 users can download new applications from the BlackBerry App World, as well as get over-the-air push e-mail from personal accounts such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and other Web-based providers.

The smartphone also adds Wi-Fi, which was missing from the first Storm, to augment its 3G capabilities. The device will have world voice and data roaming capabilities, and Verizon said it will allow phone calls in more than 220 countries, although rates vary by region.

RIM's touchscreen smartphone also has GPS, Bluetooth, 2 GB of onboard memory, and a 3.2-megapixel camera. The Storm 2 will be available Wednesday for about $180 after rebates, discounts, and a new two-year contract.

Customers who purchased the original Storm have not been forgotten. Verizon will be pushing out a firmware update that aims to add a few new features to that phone and improve its functionality. BlackBerry OS 5.0 is expected to be rolled out to Storm users over the next few days, but users can download it directly from RIM's Web site. The 5.0 OS is also available for the BlackBerry Flip, Curve 8330, Curve 8350i, Curve 8900, Bold 9000, and Tour, but RIM warns there may be issues if the service provider does not provide support.


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