Yes there have been so many BlackBerry Storm 2 leaks (and leaks) that it feels like the phone has been launched a dozen times already. Remarkably however RIM has kept quiet throughout, but today finally sees the handsets' official unveiling.
As you might expect - given the number of leaks - everything you had previously heard was spot on the money, even down to Vodafone being the exclusive launch partner. The official code name is also the ‘9520', but it will be advertised everywhere as the Storm 2.
So what of those specs? A 3.25in 360 x 480 resolution capacitive touchscreen with HSDPA, WiFi (yes, WiFi - huzzah!), GPS, a 3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus, 2GB of internal memory, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD expansion slot. So far so very incremental, but the Storm 2 makes a fundamentally important shift from its predecessor: the touchscreen keyboard doesn't make you want to scratch your eyes out.
In meeting RIM today I managed to get some time with the Storm 2 and I can confirm that whereby the Storm was a love it/hate it (for me mostly hate) typing experience, this time around handset nails it. The ‘click' interface where the screen actually depresses when pushed is still in place, but a) the screen now doesn't feel like it is about to fall out, b) it is far more responsive thanks to numerous software tweets under the hood. The result: typing is fast, intuitive and I was up to speed in just a few sentences. Could it convert those who still bow to the lords of physical keyboard? It actually just might.
On top of this you'll find the design - whilst largely the same - has been nicely tweaked with more rounded corners (which make it feel far better in hand) and a seamless bezel. More debatable is the physical buttons along the bottom of the original Storm have been replaced by touch sensitive ones which look great from a visual perspective, but are a little more fiddly to use.
We'll be getting the Storm 2 in for a full review shortly, but until then rest safe in knowing that RIM has finally cracked the touchscreen format at the second attempt. This is what the original Storm should have been. Contracts are also a little more reasonable this time with the handset available from free on two year £35pm contracts. Welcome to the touchscreen party RIM!