Whether the Blackberry Storm unveiled today lives up to its much-hyped “iPhone killer” title remains to be seen.

What’s certain is that RIM – the champion of corporate emailers – appears to have delivered excellent new touchscreen technology in its first handset not equipped with a physical keyboard.

The much-awaited Storm has a spring-loaded touchscreen that responds with a “click” like a physical keyboard.

RIM is counting on the clickable tactile interface being a big factor in challenging Apple’s iPhone and its growing market share – both for business and consumer customers.

The Storm will be available later this fall, exclusively to Verizon Wireless customers in the US and Vodafone customers in Europe, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Consumers in RIM’s Canada are also to get the new handset via Telus.

No price has been disclosed yet but reports suggest the Storm will carry a retail price of USD $199 when it goes on sale as early as November.

The handset centers on a 3.25-inch, 480×360 display and an accelerometer switches the display from portrait to landscape.

There is a 3.2MP camera, with video capture, and the phone supports a range of audio, still image and video formats, including MP3, JPEG and MPEG 4, respectively.

Content is stored on Micro SD memory cards of up to 16GB.

It’s the use of a touchscreen rather than a physical keyboard for the first time that really signals RIM’s determination to square up to the iPhone and respond to market demands – especially from non-business users.

The Canadian phonemaker also appears to have listened to users who claim the iPhone’s glass screen is awkward to type on because its virtual buttons provide no tactile feedback.

The Storm’s whole screen is backed by springs, and when pressed, it gives under the finger. This could give better typing accuracy compared to the iPhone.

This enhanced typing feature – combined with BlackBerry push e-mail and tighter server integration – could make the Storm the first touchscreen smartphone truly usable for composing/sending frequent e-mail.

The smartphone will work both on Verizon Wireless’ network and on Vodafone’s, even though they use incompatible technologies.

This means the Storm will be equipped with radios to handle both networks, making international roaming a possibility.
Verizon Wireless is the last of the four national US brands to unveil a flagship touch-screen model.

AT&T has the iPhone, Sprint Nextel sells the Samsung Instinct, and T-Mobile USA just announced the G1.
The BlackBerry Storm smartphone also includes the following features and functions:

  • BlackBerry Internet Service, BlackBerry Unite!, BlackBerry Professional Software and BlackBerry Enterprise Server support
  • Preloaded DataViz Documents to Go allows users to edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files directly on the handset
  • Built-in GPS supports location-based applications and services, as well as geotagging of photos
  • Media player that can play movies smoothly in full-screen mode, display pictures and slideshows quickly and manage an entire music collection; playlists can be created directly on the handset and there’s an equalizer with 11 preset filters – including “Lounge,” “Jazz” and “Hip Hop” – for customized audio ranges when using wired headphones or external speaker
  • A 3.5 mm stereo headset jack, support for Bluetooth stereo audio profile (A2DP/AVRCP) and dedicated volume controls
  • Sleek, elegant design with contoured corners, stainless steel back and chrome accents surrounding its large (3.25″) glass lens; its exceptional 480 x 360 resolution at 184 ppi is crisp and bright with eye-pleasing clarity
  • An ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts backlighting for ideal screen viewing and an accelerometer that allows customers to view applications in either portrait or landscape mode by simply rotating the handset
  • Removable and rechargeable 1400 mAhr battery that provides approximately six hours of talk time on 3G networks and 15 days of standby time
  • Virtual keyboards are also available in AZERTY, QWERTZ and other configurations to support different language groups.

Subscribe to our Newsletter