Alert Propeller Skies readers will recall that I hate my Iphone. So I eagerly anticipated the release of the Blackberry Bold. After voting Tuesday, I stopped by my local AT&T store, which had none available. So I ordered a Blackberry Bold from AT&T Premier. Friday, my Bold arrived. Unfortunately, the Bold is a piece of shit. After this experience, I am forced to conclude smartphones are still an immature technology. Because I need a smartphone, I am exchanging the Bold for a 3G Iphone.
browser battle royal: blackberry browser versus safari
The Blackberry Browser is unacceptable. In addition to being slower than a Q-tip driving a Buick in the left lane in Florida, the Blackberry Browser refuses to render the Optionsxpress site. Unfortunately, Optionsxpress is the one site I absolutely need the fucking Bold to render. The Blackberry Browser is completely hopeless, as I can not even see my positions, let alone trade. Fail.
Back to the lack of speed - the poor performance of the Blackberry browser makes AT&T’s shitty EDGE network look fast. What the fuck is the point of paying up for 3G and only acheiving EDGE speeds? I am beyond disappointed with the Blackberry Browser.
Hoping to salvage the Blackberry Bold, I downloaded Opera Mini. While Opera Mini solved the speed issue and did successfully render Optionsxpress, the lack of zoom levels between microscopic and fogey made the browser worthless. In full page view, the account positions screen was unreadable, but zoomed in, I was unable to see more than three columns - not nearly enough to be useful. I had a similar problem with the order entry screen, at a readable zoom level, the form and quotes would not both fit on the screen.
The Opera Mini interface for filling out forms is fucking terrible. When entering data, the browser opens a whole new blank screen. Both the Blackberry Browser and Safari allow data entry right on the page.
Safari is the motherfucking bomb diddy. I have yet to encounter a web page that Safari fucks up. Additionally, text on the Iphone is almost always readable and Safari has multiple zoom levels. Unfortunately, the Iphone suffers from slow internet syndrome, caused by AT&T’s hopelessly lame EDGE network of glacial slowness. I expect the 3G Iphone to remedy this problem, as I have played with The Photographer’s and speed is not an issue.
Total knock out: Iphone.
sms scrimmage: bold versus iphone
The feature I use almost as much as the internet is text messaging. While the Bold can send multi-media messages, a feature bizarrely absent from both Iphone models, the Blackberry SMS interface is not nearly as nice as the Iphone’s. Messages are stored in order, with a the sender’s name or number and a brief excerpt. While easier to keep track of than a steaming pile of random messages shown one at a time, this falls short of the Iphone’s interface.
Sending a message on the Bold requires two steps, which is unnecessary. After composing a message, the trackball must be clicked, bringing up a menu where the send option needs to be selected. This is a waste of time.
I absolutely love how the Iphone stores text messages by sender as conversations, with the entire text of each message shown. Sending messages on the Iphone is quick, as a send button is right on the touch screen where the message is composed. No wasted clicks.
Slight advantage: Iphone
operating system smackdown: blackberry versus iphone
The Blackberry Bold’s operating system reminds me of Windows 3.1 - while the home screen has pretty graphics, the rest of the icons and menus are plain and appear to be from 1991. Additionally, the Blackberry OS seems to be kludged together from various parts of operating systems past, unlike the Iphone OS, which maintains the same feel throughout.
In contrast to the cobbled together feel of the Blackberry OS, the Iphone OS is seamless. Everything works together and the interface is from the current century, with several nice graphical touches. Finally, the Iphone OS has plenty of shortcuts and time saving features, which make it easy to live with. For example, when using an application on the Iphone and a text message comes in, a dialog box with an excerpt of the text appears, with options to go to the SMS screen or ignore the message. Not so on the Blackberry. The active application must be exited and the SMS screen opened manually, wasting time.
clash of the input devices: keyboard and trackball versus touch screen
I find the virtual keyboard on the Iphone perfectly fine when sitting still. In contrast, the Iphone’s virtual keyboard is impossible to use while walking and difficult to type on when riding in a car. One reason I was excited about the Blackberry Bold was the inclusion of a keyboard.
The Blackberry Bold keyboard is awesome. In contrast, the trackball fucking sucks. Even after cranking the sensitivity up to maximum, I still found cursor movement too slow, especially in the browser.
The touch screen on the Iphone is excellent. I especially like that navigation is quick, as is zooming. Making selections on the Iphone’s touch screen is much easier and faster than using the trackball on the Bold. However, as mentioned previously, I am not a fan of the virtual keyboard.
Advantage: neither. I really like the keyboard and form factor of the Blackberry Bold. An ideal smartphone would be the shell of a Bold with the guts of an Iphone, with a touchscreen in place of the weak sauce trackball.
phone skirmish: blackberry versus iphone
I hate talking on the phone, so this feature is the least important thing to me. However, I do occasionally need to use the phone, so I will compare the two here.
Call quality on the Blackberry Bold is excellent on both ends. While spending 40 minutes on hold with AT&T’s allegedly Premier customer service, I could tell no difference from a land line. The same held true on a half hour call with my brother. I had no idea AT&T’s network was that good.
The keyboard is a crucial advantage, as phone numbers can be dialed directly from the home screen on the Blackberry Bold. Additionally, contacts can be accessed from the home screen, a time saving feature I appreciate. Finally, the Blackberry Bold has a much better ringer - I can hear it, even when outside.
Iphone call quality is mediocre. I have to crank the volume to maximum anywhere with any background noise. Dropped calls are also an Iphone issue, prior to using the Bold, I blamed AT&T’s network.
Dialing a number using the Iphone irritatingly requires at least two steps - getting to the phone screen and then selecting the keypad. Same deal with contacts, which are only accessible from the phone screen. Finally, the Iphone ringer is useless, almost half the time I do not hear it and miss calls. The ringer is especially difficult to hear outdoors. Profiles might mitigate this, but strangely the Iphone lacks them.
Total knock out: Blackberry Bold.
Sadly, the piss poor browser is a fatal flaw and even the excellent phone component can not save the Blackberry Bold. The Blackberry Bold is not recommended.