This past Friday I unboxed and setup the BlackBerry Bold ordered via Amazon. Since then I’ve been iPhone-free, emailing on the shiny new Bold.
This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive feature comparison – only what I’ve noticed over the last two days.
Where the BlackBerry Bold is Superior
- Typing, by a longshot. Old Rob would kid himself into thinking the iPhone was fine until I stopped sending emails because of typing accuracy. Lightning fast on the Bold with far fewer mistakes – a few minutes after using it, versus a few weeks / months / years / never on the iPhone.
- The unified inbox and calendar are amazing. I have 4 email accounts and busy home/work calendars. No clumsy hierarchical iPhone Mail.app account navigation (read messages – back – back – down – down – read messages – back – back – …) and the iPhone only lets you use one calendar at a time.
- Navigability (speed, not ease). Berries are for Getting. Things. Done(tm). Screen swipes, transitions, big button prompts (click the Reply icon on the iPhone when reading mail) all look terrific and make the phone much easier to use and without any accelerators for the accustomed user, they slow you down.
- The screen is brilliant. Same iPhone res crammed into half the size, of course!
Where the iPhone is Superior
- Software support. iTunes as the control center was a terrific idea on Apple’s part. The Berry has no such thing. Mac users get 3rd party software (PocketMac) which allows to you sync data from different apps (Address Book, iCal, iTunes) though the software itself is a shambles. It took several attempts to perform a sync of only Address Book contacts, many of which hung or crashed PocketMac entirely. In the end, only a small number of my contacts made it over and I have no idea how to get them all across. I’m shocked RIM provides this as the default support mechanism for Mac users.
- Two-way sync on all mail providers. All IMAP accounts have two-way sync (e.g. read a message in Gmail, appears read in the iPhone). The BlackBerry only supports this on BES accounts only (corporate email) and on ISP accounts it supports 1-way sync (read message on device, marks it read on Gmail). If you only read these in your BB, it’s not a problem. If you routinely swap between your web browser and the device, it’s a major annoyance.
- Web browsing. The world has already implemented crippled sites for BlackBerry browser detection and you need to change your User Agent in the browser settings to get the full web experience. Changing your agent to Firefox or IE means you get to experience the web as though you were using the IE5 renderer. Things work… mostly.
- Google Maps. The killer app on the iPhone for me. The BB has maps as an app download from Google, though it’s much slower and clunkier than the iPhone even over WiFi and 3G.
- Mail account setup: you use the browser on the phone to access the BIS (BlackBerry Internet Service) and setting up an account is circa 1999. The only way to get IMAP is to leave your password empty, get an error, choose to set your settings manually and then specify an IMAP mail server. Is your IMAP server also listening on a POP port? OOPS! The BIS looks for POP first and won’t let you set it to IMAP.
- Overall organization of apps and options – settings on the Bold are in a few different places. There’s a “Setup” icon and a “Settings” icon…? Want to change your ring tone? Use the Media app and select ring tones. Want to play music? Not under “AT&T Music”, under “Media”. The saving grace here is that you can get rid of the noise by hiding half of the useless icons that ship with the phone.
In the end I decided to go with… the iPhone.
- Lack of two-way sync on non-BES accounts played a major part in the decision. Picking up my device at the end of the day, full of messages that I’ve already read from my desktop, did not work well for me this weekend.
- Amidst a myriad of crashes and hangs, PocketMac did not earn my trust and I won’t be depending on it to manage “my digital life”. Who knows what havoc it could wreak on my data?
- Apple hosts major updates to their firmware at least once a year and one gets the feeling that while they’re lagging behind in copy-and-paste, MMS, etc. that these are just around the corner. For example, if iPhone 3.0 adds a landscape keyboard, will that do the trick on typing mistakes?
Thus ends my weekend of using the Bold.