Last month saw two mobile heavyweights enter the ring from BlackBerry and HTC, both vying for smartphone supremacy in the dangerous arena of consumers’ pockets.
Canadian company Research in Motion revamped their first ever device without a keyboard, returning with a leaner and touchscreen-er BlackBerry Storm 2, whilst Taiwanese phone maker HTC continued their current handset hot streak with the huge display and impressive interface of the HD2.
With the former trying to court those on the lookout for an ‘iBerry‘ and the HTC device performing a Gok Wan-worthy transformation of Windows 6.5, which is the ideal mobile sequel for maintaining that delicate work/life balance? We attempt to find out!
As they say, size matters, and nowhere is this more true than in the smartphone market. Well, except sumo. And sports cars. Oh, also bodybuilding, but size matters here too, with both handsets piling on the inches in every dimension.
The Storm 2 is actually quite a reasonable size, sporting slightly larger measurements than the original at a height of 112.5mm and 62.2mm wide. Nothing to worry about in the suit jacket, but the bulky 13.9mm depth is reassuring but a tad cumbersome when in the trouser pocket.
The HTC HD2 is an entirely different beast, razor-thin at 11mm but is an absolutely colossal device at 120.5mm high and 67mm across. This phone strays into personal media player territory here, an expansive display resulting in a frighteningly large device.
It’s not how big it is but what you do with it that counts, and the HD2′s size will definitely pay off in later categories. However, in terms of sheer practicality, the BlackBerry Storm 2 wins in that it doesn’t look like you’re smuggling a window pane in your pantaloons when carrying it around.
Winner: BlackBerry Storm 2
Both real heavyweights here, with the HD2 tipping the scales at 157g and the Storm 2 breaking them at 160g. Compared to the 135g of an Apple iPhone 3GS, or the svelte 113g of a Sony Ericsson W995, both our contenders are packing a lot of extra pounds on to carry around all that smartphone gubbins.
Whilst the HD2 gives the wrist a bit of a workout when texting and tapping, the Storm 2 is really a little too heavy to go unnoticed. To the gym with you!
Winner: HTC HD2
Now we see why HTC’s device decided to go all panoramic on us, it was to house the HD2′s frankly astounding 4.3-inch TFT capacitive touchscreen.
With a pin-sharp 480 x 800 resolution and astounding Microsoft themselves by incorporating multi-touch into Windows Mobile 6.5, the HD2′s display is a huge draw for the device.
Spruced up with their Sense UI, the HD2 offers a Windows phone experience…with benefits. Their intuitive and eye-catching interface debuted with Android and the HTC Hero, ported over successfully with large and touch-friendly icons providing quick and easy access to functions.
The perks that iPhone users used to crow over are all present and correct with auto-rotating the screen to bring up a landscape view when browsing and a proximity sensor to turn off the screen when chatting. The sheer spectacle of what is currently the largest screen on a mobile is a big win for the HD2, certainly earning it lots of style points over the competition and becoming a real posterboy for Windows phones.
The only shortcomings are that the HD2 is not great at playing back HD video, and it also doesn’t show the full gamut of colours, resulting in gradation issues on movies and images. The iPhone’s screen is still in the upper echelon…for now.
The Storm 2 is hardly without innovation, with the execution of BlackBerry’s Surepress technology — their attempt to bring physical feedback to a virtual touchscreen keyboard — being refined and the entire user experience given a more polished feel.
The Storm 2′s 3.2-inch display would impress in other circumstances, with multi-touch enabling fast typing on the QWERTY keyboard in landscape, smooth and responsive feedback, a brilliant display to view movies on, and an iPhone-aping proximity sensor to keep the screen from interfering with calls.
It’s just that when pitted against the behemoth than is the HD2, it’s tough to go back to watching movies or browsing the web on anything smaller without really noticing the difference…it is pretty good.
Winner: HTC HD2
Formerly a category cruelly overlooked by HTC, the HD2 steps its snapping game up considerably with a 5 megapicel effort that also rocks an autofocus lens and dual-LED flash. Used to past transgressions in this department, the addition of such a competent camera to the HD2 came as a real surprise.
Whilst it manages to forget a camera shutter button, it’s a more than competent effort with a few image manipulation settings and a fair image quality. Also, the HD2 does not record video in HD, so no remakes of Transformers 2 in the living room for us.
We’re starting to wonder what is HD about this device…
If HTC overlooked camera capabilities, then BlackBerry shunned them with a passion and the Storm 2′s camera is an equally pleasant surprise…in as much as it has one.
A relatively recent addition for BlackBerry phones, the Storm 2′s 3.15 megapixel effort is much more workmanlike than the HD2, in that it captures images, records video and little else. Photos are grainy, videos are in QVGA and are just good enough quality to earn £250 on You’ve Been Framed. Maybe.
The LED flash is okay and the video recording competent, but the Storm 2′s camera simply ticks a box rather than impresses…at least the HD2 tries to do a good job.
Winner: HTC HD2
This one is a straight tale of the tape, and a comparison of their respective lifespans on a single charge. Whilst the Storm 2 claims a decent 5 hours talktime and 305 hours on standby, the HTC HD2 eclipses this despite a juice-guzzling 4.3-inch display with 6 hours and 20 minutes of 2G chatter and 490 hours standby.
Don’t all smartphones last about a day before they need charging anyway?
Winner: HTC HD2
Another number-cruncher, and whilst both offer microSD card slot expansion possibilities, it’s the BlackBerry that holds plenty of room for movies and music with 2GB of internal memory.
The HD2 packs a lean 448MB of RAM, so a trip to the local hardware store for an upgrade is pretty much essential for anyone other than light users. You can’t let that 4.3-inch screen go to waste by not showing movies on it!
Winner: BlackBerry Storm 2
Smartphones have pretty high standards when it comes to connectivity and both of these handsets meet them. The BlackBerry Storm 2 sidesteps that wireless issue faced by that original by packing Wi-Fi as standard, as well as 3G support and GPS. Bluetooth v2.1 ensures connectivity with a range of devices, whilst the famous BlackBerry mail server is peerless when it comes to sending and receiving messages.
The browser lacks tabs and multi-touch, so it more function than flourish but it gets the job done. The ability to install a bunch of third party solutions is always there, as are new tweaks like improved instant messaging and threaded SMS. They may sound like small improvements, but those expecting an iBerry would have gotten a rude awakening with any handset before this one…
The HD2 is a powerhouse when it comes to connectivity, combining its own skills with the strength of Microsoft to bring something equally suited to business and pleasure.
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB are there out of the gate, supplemented by a document editor which can make even an Excel spreadsheet look beautiful, and browsing which is great, yet still some ways off desktop-quality, despite the screen. Internet Explorer is on board as part of Windows Mobile 6.5, and HTC have brought Opera along for the ride too. Whilst both are good in their own way, the fact that IE can’t support multitouch whilst Opera finds Flash a foreign language results in a device that really needs a bit of customisation before feeling comfortable.
HTC’s Sense UI gives a great feel to setting up appointments or managing messages, with vanilla Windows kept to a minimum. Sometimes the animations are more style thn substance, slowing down the experience despite a super-fast processor on board, but all in all the HD2 is a great device for staying connected. Built-in apps for Facebook and Twitter are the casual icing on a tasty connectivity experience.
The winner? HD2 for those that put looks first, but BlackBerry builds on their impressive core functionality with some great features. Too close to call.
Whilst handsets from the BlackBerry Bold onwards have made great inroads to providing a media experience, they have always felt…uncomfortable doing so, like watching a dog walking on its hind legs. It’s awesome to see and highly entertaining, but there’s just something forced about the whole affair that makes it more than a little creepy.
The Storm 2 is a nice looking device, with the 3.2-inch screen, 3.5mm audio jack and 2GB of memory making it easy to play back music and movies at one’s leisure. The support is great, with MP3, MP4, WMV and the like all working fine, but no support for the .avi format though. The speakers work but sound a little tinny like any mobile might, whilst movies run cleanly and with little lag.
The advent of BlackBerry App World means there are now a bevy of applications, games and software to download for the device, with prices ranging from free to extortionate. A decent addition, but lacking a little in apps of the less productive variety…
Viewing images is a fairly stale slideshow, but swiping through the pictures on the Storm 2 feels good with the confident and responsive display.
The HD2 shows movies, plays showtunes and does a mean impression of an FM radio, but is crippled by the lack of formats supported by Microsoft’s Windows Media Player.
Multitouch image browsing is nice, whilst Sense UI ‘inherits’ the cool Coverflow from the iPhone for navigation of music, straight from the home screen. All is very familiar, very slick, and demonstrates perfectly how well HTC’s proprietary tune-up works with Windows Mobile.
The presence of Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace means that app lovers are equally catered for with plenty of games and programs. Whilst neither come close to impressing on the scale of the App Store, portals to purchase additional content are welcome additions to both the Storm 2 and HD2.
Being the graphical snobs that we are, as well as the presence of third party solutions to get every media format rolling on Windows Mobile, it’s another round for the HD2.
Winner: HTC HD2
Whilst BlackBerry’s second bite at the touchscreen cherry is much improved and makes for a great smartphone experience in the Storm 2, the Windows Mobile heart beating under the HD2′s supercar chassis makes this HTC phone an unmatched success.
The expansive display, head-turning form factor and customised interface provides a velvet glove for the iron fist of Windows Mobile functionality. Sense UI puts on an iPhone-rivalling visual performance, and the connectivity options enable the HD2 to be completely tailored for everyone from a casual user to city slicker.
The HTC HD2 is our winner, but for everyone looking for the best in BlackBerry but want to make the jump to a touchscreen will not be disappointed with the Storm 2.
Looking for a price? Check out our latest HTC HD2 deals and BlackBerry Storm 2 contracts on Omio.com!