Ever since its debut in 2007, there has been a lot of buzz in the cell phone industry surrounding the Apple iPhone
. While Research in Motion's line of BlackBerry
smartphones has not generated the same level of hype as the iPhone, recent sales data indicates that the BlackBerry Curve
outsold the iPhone in the last quarter, while the new BlackBerry Storm
also challenges the iPhone's popularity.
The hype seems to say that the iPhone is the best phone out there. But sales figures (the popular vote, as it were) give the edge to the BlackBerry. Let's look at how these two smartphones stack up against each other.
It should be noted from the outset that both the iPhone and the various incarnations of the BlackBerry are excellent phones. We don't know of anyone who hates their iPhone or their BlackBerry, so the chances are good that you'll be satisfied with either brand. But we know that technophiles like to know
they've got the best of the best, so which is it already?
The iPhone's touch screen was quite a sensation when the phone first hit the market, one of many cutting edge features that set the iPhone apart. But now the BlackBerry Storm offers a touch screen, too (as do several other phones now available), so now you've got some choices if this feature is important to you. The Storm is RIM's first attempt at a touch screen BlackBerry, so it's got some kinks and bugs to work out. Users may find that the Storm's on screen keyboard feels cramped, and that the phone can be a bit sluggish. Until these issues are fixed, the iPhone retains the edge over the Storm, but for users who prefer a standard keyboard to a touch screen, the BlackBerry is the way to go. The iPhone is only available as a touch screen.
BlackBerry has the advantage over the iPhone when it comes to choices. Whereas there's only one iPhone (not counting older models), and you can only use it on one network (AT&T), there are several different BlackBerry models, and all of them are available for all of the major cellular networks in the US. When you choose a BlackBerry, you have some flexibility when it comes to design, size, network, and price. There will be no shopping around for iPhones. Some people will consider that a con while others will call it a pro.
Probably the number one reason you want a smart phone is to have access to your email and the internet from your phone. A BlackBerry downloads new email messages as they come in and immediately notifies the user, who can then check the new messages with the click of a button. An iPhone, on the other hand, downloads new messages approximately every 15 minutes, and you have to log into the email program each time you want to check for new mail. BlackBerry clearly wins the email showdown, but the iPhone gains ground in web browsing with its sophisticated Safari web browser. The BlackBerry web browser is nothing special, and may be a bit sluggish on some networks.
Both smart phones have tons of applications, more commonly known simply as "apps," that you can download, but the general consensus is that the iPhone has a better selection of apps. RIM's App World for BlackBerry phones offers about 1,000 different apps for download, from games to handy tools -- compare that to the over 35,000 apps you can download for the iPhone, and it's no contest. You'll find plenty of fun and useful apps for the BlackBerry, and App World is still relatively new, so in time the BlackBerry may come to rival the iPhone in this category, but it's not there yet.
If you want a new smart phone for fun, you're probably leaning toward the iPhone, for all its apps and its superior web browser, but if you need a smart phone for its organizational abilities, the BlackBerry may be your best bet. The BlackBerry is the clear favorite for corporate users. Set up with Microsoft Exchange Server, the BlackBerry synchronizes seamlessly with the user's desktop computer, making it a great organizational tool. Additionally, RIM has some of the best security features in the phone biz, so corporate users trust the BlackBerry with their communications. The iPhone just isn't quite there in terms of synchronization or security features, and until Apple improves on this, the BlackBerry will remain the smart phone of choice for business users.
With normal usage, the iPhone's battery tends to drain a bit faster than the BlackBerry's, but the iPhone boasts more than twice the talk time that you'll get out of a BlackBerry (up to 600 minutes on an iPhone, compared with just shy of 300 on most BlackBerry models). Call quality is good on both, but users that have tried both phones tend to give a slight edge to the BlackBerry.
Want the bottom line? The Apple iPhone has more and cooler features, but Research in Motion's BlackBerry wins on the practical side, with better email and organizational features and slightly better call quality -- but no one is going to be disappointed with either smart phone. We may not be driving flying cars or populating foreign planets yet, but looking back just a few years or so, would you have ever dreamed of owning a phone that could do all this? We can't even begin to imagine what will come along next and make these phones obsolete -- but for now, the iPhone and the BlackBerry are the best of the best in mobile phone technology.