BitDepth 646 - September 23

The iPhone versus the Blackberry.
iPhone vs Blackberry - The smackdown

iPhone versus Blackberry, who wins is up to you. Photo illustration by Mark Lyndersay.

The iPhone and Blackberry's mobile phones seem to be in competition for the same market, so smartphone buyers tend to compare and contrast them in the hope of finding the perfect solution to their mobile communications needs.
There's a first generation iPhone and a Blackberry Pearl on my desk and I have to say; the comparison is a little inappropriate. It's a bit like comparing a luxury gated community apartment with a premium mall positioning. Depending on who you are, one or the other is the perfect place to be.
Still, readers have spoken and inquiring minds need to know.

Both Apple and Research in Motion (RIM) realise that creating the right phone with the right features will not only win converts, but will also tempt "dumbphone" users to upgrade.
The second generation of the iPhone extends its software further into the realms of the Blackberry, tying its mail systems into Microsoft Exchange servers and promising the kind of push e-mail technology (through Apple's surprisingly flaky Mobile Me service) that has made RIM's product so popular.
The hot new Blackberry Bold is only a stepping stone toward the forthcoming 9350 model, dubbed the Storm, which will implement a full screen face with touch capability.

Out of the box
The Blackberry is a fully authorised and supported phone in Trinidad and Tobago while the iPhone must be hacked in order to make it function. You unpack a Blackberry, set up the e-mail online and within minutes you've joined the legions of folks who have their e-mail appear instantly on their hip.
The iPhone requires deft software skills and a willingness to keep up with new updates in order to keep the phone current. Last week, Apple issued iTunes 8, which broke previous iPhone hacks. A few days later, the Pwnage Tool guys had rehacked the new protocols and restored jailbreak status to hacked iPhones. 
Now I have to apply all these changes in order to update to the new iTunes and keep the software current. This is a giant PITA, and remains the costliest part of using an iPhone locally. Point to RIM.

Both phones send and receive calls with appropriate aplomb, but e-mail on the iPhone is more like using software on your computer than the urgent sparseness of the Blackberry system. E-mails pop up on a Blackberry like SMS text messages. Until Apple finally gets push e-mail set up right, e-mail on the iPhone remains a download and read system, vulnerable to your forgetfulness.

RIM may also be on the wrong track with a touchscreen Blackberry, since one of the great attractions of their device is touch typing, particularly on the larger models that have more spacious keyboards. You can't type with your hands under a desk in a dullass meeting with a touchscreen, guys. Point to RIM

Battery life
I'm getting three days tops on standby with normal, which is to say minimal, use with the iPhone. WiFi, audio and video playback will drastically reduce that time. The Blackberry will run, with its data ports open for incoming e-mail, for a week. If you have to change the battery on an iPhone, you must send it back to Apple or crack it open yourself, not a user friendly procedure. The Blackberry, like every other mobile phone on planet Earth, has a user replaceable battery. Point to RIM.

The iPhone has the Blackberry beat like a bobolee when it comes to the sheer joy of use and "showoffability." With more than 3000 applications available on the App Store and fluid graphics, there's lots of stuff to, um, demonstrate. In just two months, Apple reports that more than 100 million applications have been downloaded from its online store. Among them is Koi Pond, a gorgeous reproduction of fish swimming in a pond that responds to touch, the kind of thing that simply doesn't exist on any other cell phone.
A Blackberry is, well, functional. Point to Apple.

If I still woke up early in the morning and tried to tie a noose around my neck with blearly, shadowed eyes before going to work for The Man, I'd be all over the Blackberry. But I don't do that any more and the iPhone vastly enhances my ageing cool factor...and I can play The Force Unleashed on it. Think of it as my little black and silver Corvette.

iPhone gripes
No copy and paste for text on a device that is, in every other respect, a mobile computer.
App Store locked down to US only customers.
No memory card slots.
Creating and using ringtones is a fussy software hack.
Two megapixel camera is mediocre, no video capture

Commiserate about bad iPhone experiences
Crack your iPhone with directions provided

Part 3 in a series about using the iPhone in Trinidad and Tobago.
Part 1 is
Part 2 is
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