iPhone Life magazine

The iPhone and BlackBerry Turn Out to be a Pretty Good Combination

iPhone 3Gs Front viewThe iPhone is still the most revolutionary device around, and I’m not giving it up anytime soon....as a music device and an always-connected Web browser.....The Blackberry Bold's screen is gorgeous; the keyboard is fantastic; and it ran on AT&T’s 3G network. In addition, I got far better reception at home with it than with my iPhone.

If I did not love the iPhone, I would not have managed an iPhone application review site for the last year or continue writing for iPhone Life magazine. However, the 
iPhone does have some limitations based in technology (e.g., battery life) and others that are imposed by Apple as they seek to maintain as much control over the device as possible.

I first touched an iPhone in late July of 2007 when a friend who had recently acquired a first generation model came to visit us while I was on vacation. The revolutionary device wowed me and within a few days I had one of my own.

Initially, I intended to use the iPhone as a recreational device for music, Web browsing, and some e-mail. But I quickly discovered how much I loved using the device. Within a few weeks, it became my only device. Its impact on my work life was amazing. I began leaving the house with just my iPhone, as I found that much of what I had previously done on my laptop could be done with this small, powerful device.

All of this was before Apple released iPhone OS 2.0 and opened the platform to third-party apps. Apple followed with OS 3.0, which added cut-and-paste capability and other cool features. These improvements transformed the iPhone into a pocket computer—and a darn fine one at that!

However, I have to admit that I’ve become somewhat disillusioned by some of the moves that Apple has made, particularly in relation to the iTunes App Store. The seemingly random App Store approval/rejection process has left a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t understand why some apps are only allowed to run over Wi-Fi while other can run over 3G as well.

Finally, there’s Apple’s insistence upon almost total control over the App Store and the device itself. Apple sometimes treats developers in a shoddy manner and makes seemingly arbitrary decisions. A good example of this is the great “Google Voice Debacle.” Apple allowed support of Google Voice and even approved some apps that incorporated it. Many, including myself, embraced Google Voice on the iPhone. Then Apple rejected the Google Voice app and unceremoniously pulled the previously approved apps.

I began to wonder if Apple’s approach might hinder the growth and usability of the platform in the long run.

Playing the field

Reluctantly, I started looking at other smartphones. Maybe, I thought, there was one that came close to the iPhone’s capabilities and had a more flexible and open approach to add-on apps. I purchased half a dozen devices and either returned them or sold them on eBay in short order. Then I tried a Blackberry Bold and…I liked it!

The screen is gorgeous; the keyboard is fantastic; and it ran on AT&T’s 3G network. In addition, I got far better reception at home with it than with my iPhone. After customizing it to my liking, I discovered that I enjoyed using it more than I expected.

BlackBerry BoldThe BlackBerry doesn’t have nearly as many apps available for it as the iPhone, but it has some nice ones. I downloaded and installed the Google Voice application. It integrates quite tightly with the BlackBerry and allows me to call out without the required “callback” on the iPhone.

Add to that the fact that, unlike the iPhone, Jott for Blackberry allows you to initiate an e-mail by voice, and the app vLingo for Blackberry takes voice to text to an entirely new level and—I was pretty much sold. Is the BB Bold perfect? Not by a long shot. The memory leaks are horrible. And what device lets you use a large micro-sd card but forces you to use only the meager memory allotted for apps so that you hit the limit on the apps you can load on the very first day? No, it is far from perfect but, then again, no device is. For my day to day communications needs, however, it is pretty damn impressive.

A pretty good combination!

The iPhone is still the most revolutionary device around, and I’m not giving it up anytime soon. However, I’m using it now as I initially intended to—as more of a recreational device for music and an always-connected pocket computer for Web browsing and e-mail. My BlackBerry functions as my smartphone for my work-related needs.

So here I am—a Mac and iPhone user who also carries around a BlackBerry Bold. It’s really a pretty good combination.

[This article is based on a post that first appeared on Gear Diary (geardiary.com).]