I'm just completing my first week of living with my new BlackBerry
and my conclusion, particular if your phone is for business or heavy email use, is a resounding "go for Bold"! Let me explain why.
In the world of web 2.0
, social media experts
and Stowe Boyd's edglings
that I inhabit, I'm surrounded by Apple Mac fanboys who love their iPhones
. I've got 2 kids trying to convince me to switch the family from Vodafone
so they can get them. Consequently, over the last few months, I've been dropping in to every Apple Store, OÂ² shop or Carphone Warehouse
that I pass to have a play with the iPhone. I've been a BlackBerry user for some while, first with an 8700, and for the last 18 months with a BlackBerry Curve 8310. I love the simplicity and intelligence of the BlackBerry OS, where the thing you generally want to do next is only a click or a few clicks away. I use my phone for email, sms and twitter
every day, as well as regularly using it for note taking on the road or in meetings where I don't want to open my (Sony Vaio/Windows XP) laptop. One of my worries over the iPhone was whether I would get on with the QWERTY touch virtual keyboard. Although friends told me it would take a few days to get used to it, and then it would be fine, others told me it was worth it for the other iPhone benefits. I practiced a lot in the stores, and wasn't convinced. I watched the early videos on YouTube comparing iPhone vs Bold, and decided to take the plunge. Here are my thoughts so far.
In terms of size, the BlackBerry Bold
is 1mm shorter than the iPhone
, but 4mm wider and 2-3mm thicker. In the hand, you notice the extra width, but for me there isn't a lot in it. It's bigger than a BB 8300
, but almost the same size as an 8800
(same length and width, but 1mm thicker). It's slightly lighter than the iPhone and the black and silver echoes its look. The black leather effect back adds style, and it certainly looks very cool, in my opinion. In terms of feel and build quality it's top notch.
For me the slightly extra width turns in to an advantage, because it is one of the factors that makes the keyboard superb. The keys feel great, and tapping out text is smooth and easy. This device allows fast thumb typing and is perfectly practical for long notes or emails, a big advantage over the iPhone touch keyboard. It doesn't have a touch screen, but the trackball and navigation work well.
The display is absolutely awesome. It has the same 480x320 resolution as the iPhone, but is smaller. However, photos, and particularly videos look exceptional. Showing video side by side with the iPhone, I actually preferred the Bold although it is a close thing - the iPhone's screen is superb too. Compared to the Curve, reading emails or SMS is a big step up, and the overall interface has been improved with lots of minor tweaks and enhancements. It's easy to configure the home screen with the 5 applications you use the most, and the rest can be organized on the application menu or in folders. Take a look at this CrackBerry hands on tour on YouTube
to get a feel for how the OS works.
The one area where the iPhone is ahead is web browsing. I wish all PDAs and smartphones could be as good, with that multi-touch screen approach to zooming and moving around. On most other phones, like my Curve, I've never actually bothered to surf from the phone, as the experience is too painful. The Bold browser is actually a big leap up on the Curve or anything else I've used before. The home screen lets you easily type a URL, go to a bookmark, or search Google, Wikipedia or Dictionary.com. In a page it's easy to zoom in and out using keyboard shortcuts or menus, and move around with the trackball. If there is a phone number on the page, with the BlackBerry OS you can call it with 2 clicks. The browser is a long way from perfect but it works, aided by the high quality screen. I've used it regularly all week, for example yesterday searching for the correct courier address for a college in Cairo whilst at my local DHL office, where they were telling me the postcode didn't exist - I wouldn't have bothered trying on the curve. I can live with it, and hope that RIM
improve things over time.
Both devices have 3G, Quad-band, EDGE, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and USB connection. They can both handle multiple email accounts, PIM functions
, and integration with desktop office applications. The iPhone has 8 or 16Gb storage, whereas the Bold has 1Gb and a micro SD slot. Both can sync with iTunes, and do a great job of handling multi-media files, although the Bold handles more media file types. Both have a 2 megapixel camera with geotagging.
Here are some things the Bold can do, which the iPhone can't:
● The camera has a flash
● It has a video camera
● You get Documents to Go, so you can edit doc, xls and ppt files, not just view them
● It records voice notes as standard
● View all email accounts in one inbox
● You can swap in a spare battery if you need to
● Use cut and paste - this, for me, is a very big one, and I wouldn't be without it.
On battery life, there is a potential issue, where you'll probably need to charge the Bold at the end of each day. My Curve and 8700 would last for a few days, but all the extra functions drain the battery somewhat. On paper the iPhone has more talk time than the Bold. However, looking around the various forums, it looks like both the Bold and the iPhone suffer from the same problem - searching for wifi or a good 3G signal sucks the life from the battery quite quickly, particularly in bad signal areas. I'm not turning off 3G (which would be silly!), but I've improved things by turning off wifi and Bluetooth till I need them, and reduced the configurable backlight by 50% (which doesn't make much practical difference to viewing). That has all helped.
One minor criticism of Vodafone
here in the UK. Viewing the various YouTube first impression videos in the US and Canada, it looks like they give you the proper BlackBerry pouch
with belt clip in the box. Over here in the UK, they are a little more cheapskate, and you only get the BlackBerry sleeve
. I must add, though, that Vodafone's technical support is excellent, and they have a good forum
, with a fast turnaround on answers from both their team and the community.
So for my usage, with a heavy emphasis on using mail, note taking, and the PDA functions, the Bold wins hands down. I've added TwitterBerry
, so I can make sure I keep more in touch with my twitter community on the run. Put all that together , and I'm very happy wandering around town showing off my new toy.