iPhone and BlackBerry -- Month 1

I recently purchased a used BlackBerry Curve 8310 on eBay and activated it with AT&T. My iPhone was already with AT&T and the BlackBerry was locked onto AT&T so it made sense to use them and not bother with the hassle of unlocking it. I only activated it for data, no phone/SMS, so its purely a communications device/plaything/development platform. However, I’ve been carrying and using them both for over a month now and I’ve had a small epiphany regarding the two devices that I’d like to share.

The iPhone is truly awesome for reading. iPhone users will no doubt recall with great exuberance their first experience browsing the web on the phone. The experience has yet to be paralleled on another device which is, at this point, probably mostly due to Apple’s patent on multi-touch gestures. Its a wonderful device for reading web pages and email, watching videos and listening to music. In other words, passively consuming media. Its pretty clearly optimized for that purpose, as a general consumer device, and does that better than any other mobile handset.

However, the BlackBerry kicks the iPhone’s ass at writing. If I’m trying to compose an email on the iPhone, I’ve found its soft keyboard and annoyingly hard cursor placement less than pleasing compared to the fully accurate and quick interface of the BlackBerry for the same task. Even composing tweets or comments on Facebook is way faster on BlackBerry due to its hardware keyboard. I was faster typing on the BlackBerry in about a week than I am on the iPhone, and I’ve had an iPhone since the day they launched (also, I’ve never used a BlackBerry or any other smartphone prior to my iPhone purchase). I can carry on multiple IM conversations in both GTalk and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) at the same time far more easily than I would be able to converse in just one IM app on the iPhone. For actively creating content (i.e. writing), the BlackBerry is just a superior tool, even though it lacks the raw sexiness of the iPhone (and the Storm brings the worst of both worlds together on one device).

Cons are: camera’s OK, but dealing with the pictures it creates is a nightmare. Finding them for use in other apps is a real pain. Desktop syncing is definitely more painful than the iTunes-iPhone combination (I don’t even do it). There are a lot less apps, both in quantity and breadth of purpose for the BlackBerry, although the application distribution model is better (no central Apple Store fiefdom to contend with).

As my read/write ratio hovers around 50-50, I find that if the iPhone had not existed, I could imagine being perfectly content with a BlackBerry. It has excellent tactile feel and is just blazingly fast for my common tasks. As a mobile communications tool, its really on a level above the iPhone, which was really designed for passive consumption of media and/or game playing. In fact, if I’d had a BlackBerry prior to owning an iPhone, I can’t say that I would have ever gotten one in the first place.

Frankly, the more I use the BlackBerry, the more I find myself wanting to use it. While that sounds like a tautology, I’m using the iPhone these days primarily as a phone and an iPod while finding myself using the BlackBerry more and more because of the ability to be able to create content with it easily and quickly. Yeah, I can’t watch videos on it, but I never really did that anyway.