Video: BlackBerry storms Verizon Wireless

RIM's iPhone rival 'Storm' will be available next month

Network operators Vodafone and Verizon Wireless will sell Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry Storm smart phone starting next month, the companies said today.

The Storm will be available from Verizon Wireless in the U.S. and from Vodafone in the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Romania, Spain, Italy, France (via partner SFR), India, Australia and New Zealand next month.

With a touch-screen interface, the largest screen size ever on a BlackBerry device and a long list of features, the Storm will be a worthy competitor to Apple's iPhone all over the world, said Ben Wood, an analyst at CCS Insight.

Pricing will be announced in the coming weeks, according to RIM.

RIM, BlackBerry, Storm, iPhone, Apple, touch-screen

See more of the BlackBerry Storm. Plus: Video, below.

The Storm is the first touch-screen BlackBerry device and has what RIM calls a "clickable" screen. The user feels the screen being pressed and released, similar to the feeling of a key on a physical keyboard or a button on a mouse, which should make it easier to type, according to RIM.

The touch-screen technology is impressive, according to Wood, who describes the 3.26-in., 480-by-360 pixel screen as a big key. "They have reinvented the touch screen with the Storm. It's not as good as a QWERTY keyboard but it comes close," he said.

That doesn't make it better than the iPhone touch-screen interface, but it is a credible competitor, Wood said.

The Storm has 1GB of built-in memory and a microSD card slot that can hold up to 16GB of additional storage. Pictures can be captured using the 3.2-megapixel camera, which has autofocus and a flash.

RIM clearly has Apple in its sights, as it highlights that the Storm comes with a removable battery, support for Multimedia Messaging Service and turn-by-turn satellite navigation, all of which the iPhone currently lacks.

The Storm measures 112.5 mm by 62.2 mm by 13.95 mm and weighs 155 grams, compared to 115.5 mm by 62.1 mm by 12.3 mm and 133 grams for the iPhone.

Users can surf the Web and download e-mail using either EV-DO Rev. A or HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access), but there is no Wi-Fi.

"If there is one shortcoming with the Storm, it's the lack of Wi-Fi, but that is a price I'd be willing to pay," Wood said.

The reason for the exclusion is a combination of technology and politics. There isn't much room left inside the phone and both Verizon and Vodafone are pushing mobile broadband, so the incentive to include Wi-Fi is low, according to Wood.

BlackBerry Storm has the first "clickable" screen, says maker RIM.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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