Sneak peek: pre-launch BlackBerry Storm pics and specs

The first ever BlackBerry with a touchscreen.

BlackBerry Storm.

BlackBerry Storm.

Here it is: the first ever BlackBerry with a touchscreen, long anticipated and rumoured for the past few months — after all the blurry photos and patchy info. And this time, it looks like Apple really has competition.

Leaked information on a few specialty blogs revealed late yesterday the BlackBerry Storm, Research in Motion's (RIM) first touchscreen smartphone, launched exclusively on Verizon Wireless. The news of having the phone exclusively with one carrier is nothing you haven't heard before, as Apple created a precedent when it launched the iPhone only on AT&T.

Specs revealed

In a document for Verizon employees (PDF) many of Storm's specs are revealed (PDF) and are not too shabby. Actually, some are better than the iPhone's. One that strikes first, given the consumer nature of the device, is Storm's 3.2-megapixel camera (possibly auto-focus but no flash) which outdoes by far iPhone's 2-megapixel 2006 style camera (actually, Nokia's N90 had a 2MP camera and flash).

Even better, some of iPhone's harshest critics will be dazzled when they will see that BlackBerry Storm has removable memory (on board memory not mentioned) and a removable battery. Even iPhone's long awaited picture messaging feature is already present in the Storm.

Better than the iPhone?

Meanwhile, Verizon's documents mention 'Audible Turn-by-Turn Direction capability' and VZ Navigator Capable, which makes us think that there is GPS on board of the new Storm, (iPhone has no turn-by-turn audio feature together with stereo Bluetooth capabilities (which also outtakes iPhone).

When it comes to Web browsing, a leaked commercial video (see above, courtesy of Crackberry) for Verzion stores gives us a glimpse of how full HTML browsing will look like on Storm. It seems quite similar to iPhone's when the device is held in landscape position. An automatic tilt sensor is not mentioned but the video shows some sort of auto screen rotation feature.

As BlackBerries are famous for their keypad, the Verizon document mentions a "click touchscreen" that brings "smooth, precise text input that feels like a keyboard." And if this wasn't enough, with Storm you will even get Visual Voice Mail, just like the iPhone does.

All the needy details like availability or pricing are not in yet, but stay tuned for an official announcement later this week.

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Daniel Ionescu

PC World (US online)

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