Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Showdown: iPhone vs Blackberry

I'll admit, going into this I might have been a little biased. Afterall, it wasn't really my choice to try an iPhone, even though I have been somewhat curious for some time.

There I was waiting for the new Bold 9900 to be released, anxiously awaiting the day I could test drive this legendary new keyboard. The contract was in upgrade-ready status, and I was ready to go as soon as AT&T would publish the release date. Unfortunately for me, my Bold 9700 just didn't have the muster to make it across the finish line. Tired and beat, it finally gave up the ghost and refused to start up. What was I to do? Fortunately a friend of mine, knowing I was in sore straights, lent me a slightly used iPhone 3g.

Now I know, the 3g is old news.  Its been out some time and a majority of my gripes have been fixed in iOS 4 and even more with iOS 5. Its slow, its older, the features I've taken for granted in a Blackberry are lacking, and not all apps will load on it.  It really turned out to be a miserable experience that only highlighted how far the iPhone was, until recent versions, from being enterprise ready.   Even email power-user ready.  But knowing it was an older device I could forgive a lot of these issues and tried to keep an open mind.  After all you just can't beat the plethora of iPhone apps that are available, and the quality and ingenuity of the apps is fantastic.  Yet in the end there were a few things that I desperately missed from my Blackberry:
  •  LED Message Indicator Light (a.k.a. The Cracklight) - This is a Red LED on the front of the device that will flash if you have new messages, texts, or other notifications.  I can't believe how much I missed this until I had to pick up the iPhone, press the home button, swipe my finger to unlock, and check to see if I have a new email message.  iOS 5 now lets you at least configure the phone to show a notification like the text messages on a locked screen, but still no light.
  • The touchpad.  Yep, the touchpad that clicks.  I really missed that for probably the same reason as the next item on my list.
  • Keyboard.  Nothing like typing on a real keyboard.  And the 9900 is the best keyboard on a smart phone that I've ever used.  I just couldn't get used to tapping a screen without positive feedback through the touch that what I "tapped" actually registered with the device.  There's nothing that can replace a true physical "click" of a key or touchpad.
Which brings me to the Blackberry Bold 9900.  Finally a touch screen Blackberry with a full qwerty keyboard and a decent processor.  Still no dual-core here, but it really doesn't seem to need it, honestly.  It has so many little touches that make for a powerful and efficient email and business experience.  Everything happens with fewer clicks or "touches" than with an iPhone.  That being said, my gripes are with the lack of a forward facing camera and the apps.  There aren't any.  Sure there's a Facebook app, a Twitter app, a few others here and there but this is the age of the smart phone, there is no excuse for having such a pathetic selection of apps.

Wait, there is one app that is simply purely awesome that I just have to mention: Blackberry Mobile Conferencing.  If you join conference calls even once in awhile and haven't used this app, you need to get it installed asap.  Ever try to dial-in and need to memorize the access code or switch back and forth to the meeting invite to remember what it is, all while trying to keep the call connected?  Save yourself from having to do that and get this app.  It will dial the number and enter the access code for you automatically.  Again, doesn't sound like much, but use it and you will see the light.

So, while I love my new Blackberry Bold 9900, and only ever regret not having an iPhone when I see or hear someone talking about some sweet new app, I am sincerely concerned about RIM.  They've got to get their act together and do something to encourage the market to make more useful and creative apps for the Blackberry platform.  If they don't do something then I'm afraid this Bold 9900 might be the last good device from arguably the originator of the smart phone.

For now, Blackberry still beats iPhone.

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