Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Apple iPhone and Blackberry Curve/8830 -- The Comparison

Apple’s iPhone has been out now for sometime; long enough for Apple to release a second version, the 3G iPhone.  Prior to the 3G iPhone release, Apple had not really tried to push its ‘jesus’ phone into the corporate landscape; however with the 3G model Apple in turn added Exchange Push Email support and synchronization via Activesync to the iPhone 2.0 OS (2G iPhones also get the update)

Up to this point, I would never consider comparing an iPhone with a Blackberry fair since each device seems to be aimed for a different market sector (iPhone = consumer, blackberry = corporate/business).  But things have changed and both Apple and RIM are venturing into sectors they had left alone until now.  So today I will be giving a comparison of an iPhone 3G to a Blackberry Curve/8830 (I’ve used the 8830 for quite sometime but decided to include the Curve since it is basically the same as a 8830 except that it has more consumer extras vs corp on the 8830).  Keep reading for the details on the comparison



Design/Features

This would of course be a purely subjective (like most of the things I touch on today) preference.  The iPhone’s design is a very sleek and glossy design.  The Curve also has a similar rounded type design; not nearly as flashy as the iPhone but considering where Blackberry’s have come in the last 2 years its pretty flashy.  The  iPhone is slightly longer than the Curve (same size as the 8830) but does have a larger screen; however the Curve/8830 do have a full Qwerty keyboards though and use the newer ‘pearl’ scroller for navigating. 

Both devices have a camera, 3G, Wi-Fi, Exchange push email, Bluetooth, and the usual phone features.  The iPhone does not let you record videos while the Curve does (the 8830 lacks a camera and Wi-Fi).  The Curve also has a memory card slot whereas the iPhone does not due to its 8gb or 16gb of onboard flash storage.   All three devices can sync to Exchange/Outlook and most all webmail providers (ie gmail, yahoo, msn, etc)

UI/Applications.

Apple definitely wins the UI/Mobile OS wars.  Apple’s touch interface is still the best interface to date (nothing like its first adventure in pda/tablets in the Newton, hehe).  Its easy to  get where you need to get and using one’s finger to do it is easy.   One can’t compare using an iPhone to say HTC Touch w/Windows Mobile 6; Apple wins hands down.  Microsoft should take a note since they’ve been in the Smartphone business years longer than Apple and still have not come up with an intuitive interface such as Apples (and most of you readers know I’m not Apple fanboy).

RIM’s Blackberry OS is also no half-baked iteration.  The Blackberry OS is as intuitive as Apples.  The biggest selling point of Blackberry devices is the ease of use; my users are able to fully grasp most if not all of the features of a blackberry much faster than say a palm treo or a htc touch/mogul.  Blackberry’s upcoming OS update will not just improve stability but also bring a much prettier interface and also add DocsToGo editing on the device.

Using/Typing/Playing.

We all know about it by now; can one realistically type out emails on the iPhone?  Yes, but only shorter ones.  Touch typing on the iPhone takes  some time to get used to;  if you used a blackberry or other device with a keyboard forget the thumbs and use your indexes.  Touch typing gets easier the more you use it and do it; however again I could see a problem for those with larger fingers/hands. The entertainment features of the iPhone are pretty sweet (again, don’t tell my Sony Ericsson fanboys that I said that!).  I’ve never been a fan of iTunes but using it wasn’t too bad for transferring over to the iPhone.  I had a few movies I converted for my PS3 and was able to convert them in iTunes to iPhone format and sync them over.  The new Google Maps application is very slick.  I did have a few hiccups with it not tracking my position in real-time; I fixed that by just putting it in Airplane mode and then back out again.  The browser on the iPhone is very nicely done and is an example of how mobile browsing should be.  We do not need a second page for mobile devices; we need mobile devices that can actually parse the site to a mobile format.  Wi-Fi worked good letting me get on the corporate wifi via a certificate I downloaded to the device.

The Curve can do all of these things too.  However as physical keyboard still beats a touch keyboard hands down, in my opinion, if you need to type more than 3 word sentence emails.  The curve also does video, pics, and music; it does not use any specific syncing software but one could setup Media Player or even Winamp to sync music to the memory stick.  The browser on the Curve and most Blackberry devices has not changed much in the last year and still remains solid but nothing special.  It also has Wi-Fi and GPS like the iPhone and will allow word doc editing on the device when the next OS update is released later this year .   The 8830 does all that the curve can except it again lacks a camera and Wi-Fi.

X Factors/Corporate Usuage

Apple has quite a bit going for it w/the iPhone: sleek UI, excellent touch interface, iTunes integration, GPS, etc.  However with the iPhone 3G and the 2.0 OS updates; Apple now wants to get its fingers into the corporate world of Exchange.  RIM has been a big player in the corporate smartphone landscape since day one; they have consistently set and raised the bar the last few years.  However RIM now appears to be doing the exact opposite of Apple and is venturing/expanding its market into the average consumer vs corporate type; the curve and pearl are two models that were aimed at penetrating the consumer realm.  The soon to be released clamshell Blackberry and touchscreen based one also seem to reinforce this trend.

Apple’s iPhone 2G and 3G are great phones with a superior OS/input method that Windows Mobile has yet to touch on.   The added Exchange syncing abilities will help Apple penetrate the ever lusted after corporate sector.  However right now the biggest downfall for Apple’s Corp penetration is their lack of enterprise/corporate level management tools (which will be a true test for apple, its easy being good when you only have an under 10% market share; desktop pcs).

Blackberry on the other hand is trying to get into the personal users sector and seems to be also digging in further with the release of their more consumer oriented devices like the Pearl and Curve.   For the hardened corporate user, the Blackberry keyboard cannot be replaced by a touch solution.  Physical keys are much easier to type long emails on.

So, by now your probably asking:  Can I replace my Blackberry with an iPhone for work?  Will I miss anything?

My answer is like most: it depends on what you used your Blackberry for!

If you do a lot of email replying and typing, I would say no since you’ll miss that hardware keyboard.  Nothing feels better than a real, physical button to push when typing a long email (more than 3 sentances).

If you only read emails on your Blackberry and respond w/one sentence/word replies; I would say yes.  Who knows though, perhaps getting an iPhone will in turn change one's work email viewing habits into using ones mobile devices for merely reading/keeping uptodate vs replying.

Then again, these are just my .02 on a device I initially hated but now can say is a really a GREAT phone (iPhone) after using so....

Seamonkey says…. 

iPhone 9.8/10
(lack of video recording/picture messaging prevented the 10)

Blackberry Curve 9.0 /10
(all blackberry phones are excellent phones in my experience and the curve is no different; if need a keyboard this is your device of choice, imo)