You get three touch keyboard choices – a Pearl-like keyboard and a multi-tap alphanumeric dial pad in portrait mode, or a full QWERTY in either portrait or landscape modes. Why anyone would choose anything but a full QWERTY option confuses us, but that’s besides the point. Typing on any of these selections takes a bit of getting used to – you have to press unusually hard to register a character or action, which slows down messaging. Worse, the main QWERTY keypad has only one punctuation mark – a period, which isn’t even necessary since a double space bar tap produces one. To get a comma, @, question mark, etc., you have to access the numeric keyboard – a pain in the rump. Additionally, once on the numeric keyboard, you can only press one character before the Storm snaps back to the alpha array. If you need to type a string of numbers, you have to press the key to access the numeric keyboard for each numeral, which we found unreasonably annoying.
Perhaps more distressingly still, even though the BlackBerry Storm 2 accesses Verizon’s usually speedy EV-DO Rev. A network, the Web is unusually sluggish to access. Mobile-optimized pages such as CNN and The New York Times take 5-6 seconds to load, nearly twice as long as on Droid handsets. Non-optimized pages take 25-30 seconds or more, depending on the amount of visual content featured, also loading slower than on a Droid, or most other of Verizon’s wireless smartphones. There’s no multi-touch browsing either – you have to use the soft zoom button to increase text size, which you’ll definitely need to do. Further slowing you down, you’ll also need to access and scroll down the pop-up menu to get to your bookmarks, instead of there being a soft menu option for this oft-used function.
Digital Camera Features
The BlackBerry Storm 2 has a below-average 3.2 MP camera (both Droid phones are equipped with above-average 5MP imagers). Color consistency varies from shot-to-shot and leans toward the green end of the spectrum. Details often are fuzzy, as if the camera has poorly interpolated the image. Indoor shots lack color and it’s difficult to keep the camera still enough to get a crisp shot as well.
Fortunately, you’ll be able to chat for hours – more than 6 during our hands-on evaluations, longer than the phone’s official total, which is set at 5.5 hours.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if the BlackBerry Storm 2 is a good phone or a bad one – hint: per the above, it’s an average performer at best – because it will appeal only to a narrow, captive constituency: Verizon BlackBerry users who don’t mind using a touchscreen keyboard. If you’re not a BlackBerry user and even remotely choosy though, take a pass. The reality is that you’re far better off with one of the vastly superior Droid smartphones instead.