Vodafone and RIM have finally announced the forthcoming launch of the BlackBerry Storm 2 across seven European countries - and South Africa.

The second-gen touchscreen smartphone is said to "significantly improve the BlackBerry touchscreen platform with new technology and new features". It will run BlackBerry OS 5.

With chrome accents, a glass lens and stainless steel backplate, the HSPA Storm 2 offers a 3.25-inch, 360 x 480 resolution display, a 3.2-megapixel camera with autofocus, flash and video recording.

The Storm 2 gets a new version of RIM's "SurePress" tech that gives tactile feedback when the touchscreen is pressed, while typing on the virtual keyboards is said to be easier, more comfortable and more accurate.

The new SurePress technology will mean the user can type a letter with one thumb even while their other thumb may still be touching or resting on another letter, which means multi-key actions such as Shift or Alt -key combinations will be possible.

There's 256MB of flash memory, 2GB on-board memory expandable via microSD cards up to 16GB, media player, syncing with iTunes and Windows Media player, as well as Voda's music store pre-installed.

Other specs include a 3.5mm stereo headset jack, Bluetooth 2.1, GPS, and Wi-Fi, while battery life is said to be 6 hours of talk-time.

In the UK Vodafone's cheapest deal sees the BlackBerry Storm 2 free from £35 per month on a 24-month contract that includes 600 minutes talk-time, unlimited BlackBerry Internet Service, unlimited text messaging, as well as unlimited access to VMI (Vodafone Mobile Internet) and broadband.

Vodafone's pre-order process is up and running with delivery said to be on 26 October.

As far as the original Storm goes, RIM has informed Pocket-lint it will still be available and it will continue to be supported with software updates.