As some of you may know I have been debating on whether to get an IPhone 3G or a Blackberry Bold. Since I already had experience with a BlackBerry (a very positive one in general) I decided to give the IPhone a trial run for a month to see if I liked it better than my BlackBerry.
Honestly, I think I’d be happy with either phone. The BlackBerry experience was always great except for the fragility of the trackball; but the email, gmail, and google talk stuff all kicked ass on the BlackBerry and managed to meet most of my needs. I didn’t like the music player on the BlackBerry so I always had to carry an IPod as well if I wanted to listen to music. I also never cared for any browser on the BlackBerry as they were too limited in what I could do while interacting with various webpages including this one (I couldn’t moderate comments for example).
My employer uses Lotus Notes for email and we have a BB Enterprise server so, obviously, the BlackBerry was better for work email and calendering. However, not a lot better for email. I don’t really need instantaneous email notifications, a few minutes delay here or there is OK. The inability to use an IPhone with the companies calendering system is a bit of a pain but, really, I don’t have many meetings or events I need to schedule so not having them on my phone isn’t too big of a deal. It’s a knock against the iPhone but a pretty small one.
The BlackBerry supports copy-and-paste which, quite frankly, is great. I don’t use it often but when I do it’s very handy. I’m not sure why the IPhone doesn’t have this feature even if I can’t imagine a good way to implement it with the multi-touch interface elements that already exist. However, since I use copy and paste rarely it is still a rather small knock on the IPhone based on my usage.
The BlackBerry has a fantastic implementation of voice dialing. My wife can’t live without it because she is in the car all day travelling between clients. I, on the other hand, don’t even own a hands free set so voice dialing has no bearing on my life. Luckilly for the IPhone I never grew an attachment to that feature but if you like voice dialing you may want to avoid the IPhone.
Gmail on the BlackBerry is great - I love the native app which lets me see things in a conversation threaded view just like on the website. I also like that it integrates with the notification system on the phone so when a new mail shows up the light flashes and a little chime goes off. The Google Chat app is just as slick and also integrates nicely with the message system on the BlackBerry.
On the IPhone the Gmail integration just isn’t as nice. Using the normal mail reader is OK but I really do like conversation view and I wish the IPhone supported it. Sure I could just use the web interface but then I wouldn’t get notifications on my phone. Email is a major part of my phone experience so I pretty much have to use the IPhone interface. At least the formatting of messages in that interface is great and the large screen lets me read more of the message without scrolling - I just wish there was a native Gmail app.
There is no Google Talk integration - you have to go to the web interface. That pretty much sucks because now I can’t get an IM unless I have the browser tab opened to that page. That’s basically worthless. Fortunately the SMS app on the IPhone is pretty slick and “IM” like so it’s not a totally lost cause. If nothing else someone can email or SMS me and tell me to get on chat. I have unlimited texting so its not bad for me but I guess it sucks for anyone who wants to contact me that way who doesn’t have unlimited texting.
The IPhone is basically an IPod touch with a phone thus the Music interface on the phone is pretty good. I don’t like it as much as the IPod classic interface but it is still better than any other music player interface I’ve experienced on a phone. Plus, with my home button set to double click launch the music player I can pause/play music without unlocking the phone so the integration works out pretty nicely based on my usage patterns. I had to screw around with ITunes for a bit on my computer to get it to stop trying to touch the phone but once I did that I was able to use Media Monkey to manage music on the phone. Now my phone is loaded with great songs I can listen to wherever I am and I have a good interface for playing them which rocks.
The last.fm program for the IPhone won’t scrobble but if you jailbreak you can install a scrobbling app that works pretty well. I can’t say that is reason enough to jailbreak but if scrobbling is important to you that’s the only way.
The library of applications you can install on the IPhone is pretty extensive but, most of them seems useless to me. However I did find a few I really like. I really only use three with any regularity: twitteriffic, mint.com, and flickit. In fact, before flickit I hardly used my flickr account but now I have a camera and a good interface for uploading to it so I’ve begun to take advantage of my account. The free twitteriffic client is decent and makes tweeting on the go pretty easy. I use it more for keeping up with others tweets than posting my own. Finally, the mint.com app gives me a pretty nice look into my finances. I really like the mint website anyway and this app ties in nicely; I love the ability to see my current financial health instantly. None of these apps exist for the blackberry. Granted there are twitter apps for the Blackberry but I never used them. If there is a flickr app I haven’t encountered it either.
Google Calendar and contact sync on the IPhone, for me, works better than it did on the BlackBerry. In this case it is because my phone won’t sync with my work calendar oddly enough this is taking a weakness and turning it into a strength. The Google Sync feature automatically deletes events that are over two weeks old. When this happened on my blackberry it sent a deletion message to the BB Enterprise Server which resulted in the organizer of the event getting a “decline” message for past events. It was pretty annoying to them and thus I couldn’t use the sync tool. Now I can and it is great having my full contacts and my wifes work calendar on my phone. Now I can email anyone and I can meet up with my wife for lunch when I see she is in town.
The absolute best part of the IPhone is the browser. I can interact with almost any webpage without a problem. I can now post to my blog on the run, I can manage my google groups on the go, I can do so much more on the web than I could before. It’s really great. I didn’t think the browser would make such a difference but it really has changed how I interact with my phone. I don’t use it all the time but when I do it’s great to have such a feature rich browser.
The final consideration is battery life. The IPhone does have a shorter battery life than my blackberry did (when it was new) but, of course, the IPhone is doing a lot more. The BlackBerry had a nice feature where you could schedule it to turn off completely each night and turn back on in the morning; you can’t do that on the IPhone so I have to manually turn off the radios and wi-fi at night; it’s not a big deal but it is an inconvenience. I get about 2 full days of normal use with the phone. My normal use is maybe 2-3 calls in a day (all shorter than 5 minutes), checking email regularly (cylces every 15 minutes), responding to about 10 emails a day on it (the rest I respond to on my computer or I just delete without response). I also browse the web, use the Google Reader interface quite a bit (over 30 minutes a day probably), and I get a few SMS messages a day. I also take a random photo, upload it to flickr, and check my finances on the mint app.
While I would prefer a longer battery life (wouldn’t we all) the IPhone’s battery is sufficient for my needs. There was one weird day where my battery went crazy and it just started depleting really, really fast. In fact that night I went to bed with 68% battery life, turned off all the radios, woke up 7 hours later, and the battery was completely dead. It was a fluke day but it does raise some concern. I hope it doesn’t happen again.
With all this said and done I’m going to keep the IPhone. I don’t really feel any pain in switching and I get a much, much better browser in the deal. Overall I’m very happy with the IPhone and am glad I decided to give it a try.
iPhone looks sweet, but bold is better for business!
If you want to see some iPhone magic, check out WinAdmin in the app store. It’s not free, but it is dang impressive that this can even be done on a phone.