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BlackBerry Storm 2 to blow in this week

Verizon announces that RIM's newest smartphone will hit store shelves Wednesday. The touch-screen device will cost $179 after rebate.

Research In Motion's BlackBerry Storm 2 will be available to Verizon Wireless customers Wednesday, according to the carrier.

BlackBerry Storm 2 CBS Interactive

Like its predecessor, the BlackBerry Storm 2 will feature a touch screen. Unlike the BlackBerry Storm, though, the Storm 2's SurePress "clickable" display doesn't actually move (except for around corners). Instead, the display provides an electronic feedback that mimics the feeling of a click. It also features multi-touch support, allowing users to click two keys (like shift plus a letter) on the virtual keyboard at the same time.

Aside from a revamped touch screen, the Storm 2 offers built-in Wi-Fi and EV-DO Revision A. The Storm 2 provides global support, allowing users to make calls and get 3G data overseas, thanks to an included SIM card. The phone comes with 256MB of flash memory, and 2GB of "onboard" memory. It also ships with a 16GB MicroSD card.

The Storm 2 runs BlackBerry OS 5.0. According to Verizon, the new software will improve the device's typing and selection accuracy. It also features more use of animations.

The Storm 2 has a 3.2-megapixel camera and video recording. The phone comes with BlackBerry Maps, which allows users to access turn-by-turn directions and maps, and to find local businesses. RIM has also included Verizon's VZ Navigator service, which adds voice-guided directions, but costs an additional $9.99 per month.

Like some of the latest BlackBerry smartphones, the Storm 2 will provide access to the BlackBerry App World. It also supports Verizon's tethering service.

The phone features a removable battery that, according to Verizon Wireless, will offer up to 5.5 hours of talk time. It asserts that the battery will last for 11 days on standby.

When the Storm 2 hits store shelves for $179.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate, both RIM and Verizon will be hoping that users have forgotten about the mistakes made in the original BlackBerry Storm. That phone's touch screen and software annoyances yielded some unhappy customers. It also failed to break three stars in a CNET review last year.

That said, Bonnie Cha at CNET Reviews had an opportunity to check out a near-final version of the Storm 2 recently. According to Cha, the Storm 2's SurePress touch screen is much improved over its predecessor. She was also happy to see Wi-Fi make its way to the follow-up smartphone. Still, she found that the software reset spontaneously at times and that, overall, the GPS performance was sub-par.

Check out CNET's full evaluation of the BlackBerry Storm 2 here.