BlackBerry Storm 2: Is it worth the upgrade?

As an avid BlackBerry Storm user and advocate (makes me sound important, doesn't it?), I was extremely curious if the forthcoming BlackBerry Storm 2 would be such an amazing upgrade that I would be insane not to trade in my 9530 for the latest, greatest 9550. There are new, refined features that most users clamored for, but as it turns out, my upgrading will probably wait until the Storm 3.

The Storm 2's specifications are nearly identical to the Storm's, with a few additions and one major augmentation. The additions include something users were immensely disappointed that wasn't available with the first Storm, and that's WiFi capability. This feature alone will entice most users to upgrade to Storm 2. Admittedly, there are times when I'm surfing and I become frustrated with the data network's sluggish speed...and look, there's a WiFi signal right near by. My wife argues that yes, there's a WiFi signal nearby because it's in your home and you also have a laptop that will perform leagues better than your BlackBerry. Obviously she thinks the upgrade money should be spent on trivials, such as groceries for our children. Sigh. But I digress.

Battery life, or lack thereof, is another area of complaint with the Storm. I never really noticed as my previous phone, the Motorola e815, had a battery that dispensed it's charge faster than a hungry lactose-intolerant engineer in a Ben & Jerry's store (true story). But the masses spoke, and RIM listened. The Storm 2's battery life is much improved, according to RIM. The data sheet comparing the two may say otherwise...as a matter of fact, the Storm 2 seems to be worse on paper: Storm: Up to 15 days Standby; GSM: 5.5 hours, CDMA: 6 hours talk time. The Storm 2: Standby on CDMA: Up to 11 days/264 hours. UMTS: Up to 11 days/264 hours. GSM: Up to 12 days/288 hours. Storm 2 talk time: CDMA: Up to 5.5 hours. UTMS: Up to 6 hours. GSM: Up to 5 hours. But numbers are numbers and it's the real world application and results that matter. Or so I'm told.

If there was one massive complaint about the Storm, it's the touchscreen. When pressed, the entire screen depresses...not just the icon or number you are pressing. The sensation itself is preferable, in my opinion, to the iPhone's touch and glide style, but apparently others find it off-putting. Not wanting to lose that distinction, the new, improved SurePress screen still depresses...albeit VERY slightly. But the click sensation is provided by a piezoelectric pulse this time. The only area to feel depressed is the area you are pressing. Very cool idea.

There are other improvements as well, including doubling the onboard memory and Flash memory from 1 GB to 2 GB and 128 MB to 256 MB respectively, backlighting and a color display. There is also the lack of sleep mode. Interesting that they got rid of that.

So is the Storm 2 worth the upgrade from the first Storm? I think it really depends on your desire to have a smartphone that can use WiFi. The Storm 2's screen is significantly better, but not enough to upgrade.  The rest of the enhancements seem to be mostly cosmetic and nitpicky. But if you're in the market for a new, funky smartphone, give the Storm 2 a gander.

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