First things first. I realize that this “review” is about a year late as these two phones are one rev back from what is currently on the market or in the case with the blackberry bold, the bold “2” or 9700 is due to launch any day now on ATT (it already has launched on the T-mobile network). I wanted to give my impressions of the two devices at a higher level with regards to the two product lines and not so much the individual units themselves.
I have had the iPhone 3G for about 9 months. My previous phones before the iPhone were a couple of Winmo devices like the Samsung blackjack II and before that the Cingular 8525. Both of these phones were actually pretty decent devices. The 8525 was probably the closest to what I would call phone nirvana as it had it all at the time. It was starting to show its age and the fact that I had to use the stylus for pretty much everything other than making phone calls got annoying quick. It also didn’t have a built in GPS and being a geo-caching nut, I really wanted a device that had a GPS in it. One day while logging into geocaching.com, I noticed they had an iPhone app for geocaching. I resisted purchasing the iPhone on principle, but finally gave in after about 3 months. I know, I know, I am weak.
One of the reasons I didn’t want an iPhone was the lack of a physical keyboard. The blackjack and the 8525 both had a physical keyboard (the 8525 was a delight to type on for such a small device). It took me quite a while to get the hang of the iPhones virtual keyboard. The predictive typing helped out quite a bit. I can still type faster on a physical keyboard though.
The user interface on the iphone is pretty slick. The capacitive touch screen is a real engineering feat. It allows for multiple fingers to touch the interface at the same time and allows for things like “pinching” to allow for zooming in and out for example. The ability to finger swipe on the menu system allows for quick menu action.
Apps for the iPhone are done very well and is in my opinion one of the main selling points for the iPhone. It is brain dead simple to find apps, buy them, download them, and start using them.
The camera is pretty decent for a 2MP camera. The colors are good and consistent.
Call quality is very good on both ends of the phone.
The music player on the iphone is somewhat confusing. It just seems like it is trying to do too much. Some people like it, I am not one of those people.
Email/SMS is done very well on the iPhone. Exchange support is there if needed along with POP and SMTP.
Web browsing is outstanding on the iPhone. With its large screen, it is easy to view web pages.
Some things I don’t like about the iphone are that it doesn’t have some sort of light to allow for notification of new messages. I really wish they would have included this as I often set my phone in quiet mode and just want to visually look at the phone to see if I got a message or not. I am really surprised they didn’t include a light around the circular button at the bottom of the phone that pulsed like on a Mac computer. For me the jury is still out on the virtual keyboard. I don’t like having to rely on a proprietary cable for syncing and charging. The blackberry uses a standard USB charging cable and since I have a ton of those from various gadgets, there is always one at hand.
I got a new job about 5 months ago. Part of my new job responsibilities is being an Exchange/Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) admin. I haven’t played with a blackberry since they were a text only device. I was able to get a blackberry bold 9000 and a blackberry curve 8320 for doing some testing. These are the two most common devices deployed in my work environment.
The screen on the bold is incredible. While not being as large as the iPhone and lacking the touch screen capabilities of the iPhone, it is absolutely beautiful. I don’t care how good your vision is, I dare you to find a pixel on the screen. It is like looking at a miniature hi-def TV.
I don’t know if I care for the scroll wheel. On the newer blackberries, they moved away from this type of input device which is probably a good thing.
They keyboard is really, really good. I had forgotten how much I missed typing on a physical keyboard. The keys have the right amount of play and are spaced the right distance apart (at least for my somewhat large hands).
The apps are OK. Nothing special here, but there are some decent ones out there and blackberries “App world” is no Apple App store, but it does the job. There aren’t as many apps for the blackberry as there are for the iPhone, but the most popular ones like facebook, twitter, etc are there.
The camera is not as good as the iPhone, but the phone does take videos.
Call quality is quite good and very comparable to the iPhone.
I like the fact I can use add on memory cards to the phone, so there is technically no limit of how much storage that is available. With the iPhone, you are locked in to whatever you purchased (in my case 8GB).
The music player is quite nice. The audio sound quality was superb.
Web browsing is just so-so on the blackberry. Navigating isn’t as easy as the iPhone because you have to use the scroll ball and the screen is smaller, so there is a lot of zooming in and out.
Email/SMS is the bread and butter of a blackberry. It takes a while to become used to the combined inbox where your different emails and even facebook updates are kept.
Things I don’t like about the blackberry are that the screen is somewhat too small. If it was just a 1/4 of an inch bigger, it would be so much better (the newer blackberry 9700 has a somewhat larger screen.) The build quality could be a little bit better. The battery cover on the back comes off quite easily and while using it, I have had it pop off more than a few times and the battery falls out as a result. Again the newer blackberries have addressed this issue (so the spec documents say).
I wouldn’t mind using either phone as my primary phone (with google voice, I can have both phones ring depending on which one I have with me at the time). Both have their positives and negatives and in the end they end up being equal.
Now if I could only get my hands on an android device…..hmmm…..