Vodafone and Verizon Wireless announced the BlackBerry Storm in the early hours of this morning, and already the first reviews and hands-on opinions are coming in. As their first touchscreen handset, this is a very important device for RIM; it also puts them, in the consumers' eyes at least, directly in competition with the Apple iPhone. First impressions for the smartphone are reasonably good, with the unique ClickThrough touchscreen getting plenty of attention.
Two UK newspaper heavyweights have weighed in, The Times and The Guardian, both calling the Storm surprisingly heavy and both making much of RIM comments that until now touchscreens haven't been the best choice for business users. In the case of the BlackBerry Storm, a capacitive touchscreen lies on top of an array of sensors; navigation is done by gliding around the touchscreen as usual, tapping to highlight items, but you have to press down to actually "click"; Guardian reviewer Richard Wray describes it as "the sort of physical click that any BlackBerry user will recognise from the trackball on previous devices."
Engadget flag up the lack of hardware video acceleration, which is a shame given most reviewers are drooling uncontrollably over the 3.25-inch, 480 x 360 display and suggesting it would be ideal for mobile media and gaming. They also found it left panning around webpages choppy. Gizmodo, meanwhile, call it possibly "the best screen on the market", but save a punch or two for RIM over the absent WiFi.
Some wondered if the BlackBerry OS could hold up to finger-scrutiny, but PhoneScoop seem to think RIM have nailed it. They compare it (favorably) to S60 Touch as seen on Nokia's recent 5800 XpressMusic, heaping particular praise on the QWERTY keyboard - something the BlackBerry faithful will be very pleased to hear. Copy & Paste functionality - using the ClickThrough system - will likely be held over iPhone owners' heads for some time to come.
In general, the news is good. RIM have made a solid handset - in all senses - and some go so far as to suggest it's the best device Verizon have on offer.