The quality and speed of the browser is an essential feature for smartphones these days. And it's here that the BlackBerry Storm 2 has some catching up to do vis-a-vis rivals such as the iPhone 3GS.
The Storm 2 is an underrated smartphone in many respects. The interface is clean and easy to navigate, the standard software feature set competitive, and the ability to integrate all email accounts into one screen convenient.
But unbelievably--to me, at least--RIM failed to improve the browser on the Storm 2. Or let me put it this way: RIM failed to make perceptible improvements. (See RIM statement below.)
This is no small oversight. The key reason why the Motorola Droid has been a hit is because it couples a big screen with a high-quality, fast browser--making it the only premium smartphone to date in the U.S. to approach the status of the iPhone.
Which brings us to the gold standard of smartphone browsers: the Safari browser on the iPhone 3GS. This is nothing short of phenomenal. It's the closest a smartphone user can get to the full-fledged browsing on a laptop.
And the browser will only become more important as the smartphone screen size creep continues, from the 3.5-inch diagonal screen on the iPhone 3GS to the 3.7-inch screen on the Droid to the 4.1-inch display on the Toshiba TG01 (sold in Europe).
So, what was RIM thinking? The Storm 2's browser (like its predecessor's--which I had previously been using) can be glacially slow when loading Web sites. So slow that many Storm users opt for downloading the Opera Mini or Bolt browsers. But these browsers have shortcomings of their own, so they don't necessarily serve as satisfactory replacements for the Storm's built-in browser. (The Bolt browser does not zoom and Opera Mini--though blazingly fast--has trouble rendering some Web sites.)
As shown in the embedded videos, which demonstrate the load times for the CNET News page and the zoom features of the two phones, respectively, the iPhone 3GS (bottom) beats the Storm handily.
But RIM needs to hurry up and match the competition. A fast, high-quality browser is standard equipment now for premium smartphones. Am I alone in this opinion?
I should also add that I made an official inquiry to RIM, asking why they didn't do more to improve the browser in the Storm. This was RIM's response:
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