Smartphone Round Robin: Apple iPhone Final Impressions

iPhone Final Impressions
By Kevin Michaluk on 5 Dec 2007 06:53 pm EST
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Kicking It Up a Notch in the Smartphone Game 

Thanks to the Smartphone Round Robin, I have now been without my BlackBerry Curve for over a month! I started out with the Windows Mobile/AT&T Tilt and from there moved onto the Palm Treo 680. With the Round Robin beginning to wind down, I am finally finishing up with my last smartphone of the month, the Apple iPhone.

My iPhone Initial Impressions article received a lot of feedback from the CrackBerry.com community. It is very apparent the iPhone vs. BlackBerry match-up is a topic of great interest to both existing BlackBerry users and those in the market for a new smartphone. Observations and comparisons between the two devices arise frequently in the CrackBerry forums addressing the popular iPhone vs. BlackBerry debate.

Due to this interest, I’ve taken my time with getting this final impressions article up (Dieter actually wanted them up this past Friday!). For most of Round Robin I have been around home, “playing” with my new smartphones, which I think has worked ok in allowing me to find the strengths and weaknesses of both the Tilt and Treo 680. But it also means I was never too far away from my desktop computer which made coping without my BlackBerry a bit easier. But for the iPhone I wanted to ensure my final impressions were as complete as possible by giving it some real world use. Luckily, circumstances came up that allowed for this. I went out of town from Thursday to Monday night (kicking some butt in a curling bonspiel!) and though I did take my laptop along for the trip, I never took its power cord, which quickly forced me to rely on the iPhone for everything! So how did the iPhone hold up? Read on for my closing thoughts on the iPhone!!

Don't forget, a comment to this post counts as an entry in the Round Robin Contest! Be sure you're logged in before you comment. The Round Robin comes to an end this Sunday, December 9th at Midnight, so get your final comments and forum posts in for your last chances to win a new Smartphone! Winner will be announced December 12th.

Evolution of Use

For both the AT&T Tilt and Treo 680 I spent a lot of time talking about how the way I physically held each device and navigated its functions actually changed over the course of the week. With both devices I grew much more proficient as time went on; looking less like a newbie and more like an expert by the time I was ready to move onto the next phone (though that darn slider form factor on the Tilt still felt alien to me).

With the iPhone there has been no evolution to the way I use the device. I’m a little faster with it now than I was on day one, simply because I know where all of the settings/options are, but am still using the phone in the exact same manner (hold it in my left hand, tap with my right index finger). With no keyboard shortcuts to program/learn and only one method of input, Apple really has limited the way in which you use the phone.

iPhone Final Impressions
Hold it in the left hand, Tap with the right index finger

Whether this is good or bad I think will be determined by the individual user. It definitely keeps things simple and allows for the phone to be learned quickly (a great thing), but as I mentioned in the first impressions article it also makes for a rather slow user experience (a bad thing). It actually takes a lot of time to do anything on the iPhone – make a call, check and respond to email, browse a webpage (though a beautiful browsing experience, it does takes a lot of time to actually use the browser), etc.

As for typing on the keyboard with no keys, I don’t love it, but I don’t hate/mind it either. It takes a lot more concentration to use the touchscreen keyboard than a physical keyboard – it’s easy to make mistakes, and when you make mistakes that the automatic spelling fixer upper doesn’t pick up on you are forced to go back and fix it on the spot (again taking up a lot of time) as the word it will have automatically inserted will be nothing like you the word you were aiming for. I much prefer the methodology of the BlackBerry (leave the typos in and run spell check at the end to catch any errors (or if you’re emailing someone you don’t need to impress just leave the typos in!).

iPhone Final Impressions
If you type proper words, the iPhone is pretty good at fixing mistakes

I’ve been told and read before to just put faith in the iPhone’s spelling auto corrector and just type! While it does do a good job if your English is relatively proper, it seems I tend to use a lot of slang and umm… swears in my emails which the iPhone doesn’t deal so well with at first encounter. Oh, and if you email your significant other and sign off xoxo, be sure to double check that’s what makes it into the email before you actually send it! :-)

Despite the shortcomings of the soft keyboard, I still didn’t mind it. Because it is more of a chore to send a message on the iPhone than on my Curve I found my emails and text messages did grow shorter and more to the point (which for those who get emails and texts from me appreciated that fact – words are free and I type fast so I tend to go on and on and on and on – a trait inherited from my mom!).

If you send over 10 messages a day on your mobile device I wouldn’t recommend the iPhone (or any phone with a soft keyboard for that matter), but if you read messages more than you send them and response time is not of critical importance, the soft keyboard can and does get the job done.

The Round Robin Challenge Check List

When it comes to the Round Robin check list, the iPhone really dominates. From firing up the iPhone for the first time, I was able to cross off the tasks in the following list in about twenty five minutes:

1. Editors must use their assigned smartphone as their "main brain" and may not use any other smartphone OR music device (such as an iPod) for one full week: Other than the lack of push email, BlackBerry Messenger and voice dialing, I was able to do on the iPhone all of the basic things I do on my BlackBerry… it just took a lot longer to do (though it did look pretty doing it). The iPhone does lack GPS but am guessing that an updated Google Maps should offer their newly-released My Location (which I did quickly test out on my BlackBerry and found to work amazingly well!).

2. Editors must attempt to sync their phone to their computer, syncing all PIM data: I synced the iPhone to my Mac to load it up with music, and to my Dell to load it up with all my Outlook data. Syncing through iTunes on both computers has been an easy experience. Two thumbs up.

3. Editors must attempt to set up their email on the smartphone: Easy. It only took a couple of minutes to IMAP up my Gmail account to the iPhone. It is “pull” email rather than “push” email, but it does work. BlackBerry Connect on the iPhone would be a huge and welcomed benefit. I don’t think RIM will lose too many existing customers to the iPhone (unlike the Palm, where it seems that current iPhone owners are seven times more likely to have owned a Treo than any other phone in the past), but if they do I guarantee those past BlackBerry owners who switch to iPhones would stay on their BIS plan just to take advantage of BlackBerry Connect’s “push” capabilities.

iPhone Final Impressions
Gmail IMAP on the iPhone - pulling email sucks

One person commented to the iPhone First Impressions article that you can download 3rd party software which gives the ability to set how often the iPhone checks for email (the built in defaults are manual checking, or auto-checking every 15, 30 or 60 minutes). But even if you set the iPhone to check for email once a minute, it still would be pull email…. you’d still be waiting and you’d waste a lot of bandwidth as it would be checking for messages every minute whether you have any waiting or not. Oh, and you’d kill your battery life much quicker – from both the constant checking of messages and the fact that the display turns on briefly while doing the email checking. It’s all about Push!

4. Editors must attempt to use their smartphone to get directions at least once: Google Maps worked great for me on both the AT&T Tilt and the Palm Treo 680 (and of course on my BlackBerry Curve as well). The iPhone was no exception. A nice thing here was I did not have to download Google Maps as it is native to the phone.

5. Editors must attempt to use their smartphone with a bluetooth headset: Easy to do, though the Bluetooth menu is a little buried in the OS (under Settings > General > Bluetooth). I think Bluetooth is pretty huge these days – it should really be under Settings > Bluetooth or else even have its own application icon. The iPhone did pair up with my Bluant Z9 headset easily though.

The big drawback? I still cannot believe the iPhone does not have A2DP Stereo Bluetooth support. This just BOGGLES my mind. For such a media/entertainment oriented device, I just cannot understand how this got left out on the iPhone. Is it a hardware limitation? Is it in the works but the software just wasn’t done yet and they wanted to get the iPhone to market? Is it easily doable but intentionally left out (Apple sells headphones but not Stereo Bluetooth headsets and they see this is as a way to make more money until they release their own Stereo Bluetooth headset)? I haven’t dug into this, but would love to know the real answer here.

6. Editors must attempt to install at least 2 3rd-party apps (if possible) on their smartphone: Wow. The JailBreakMe.com AppSnapp Installer is the best smartphone software manager I have ever used or seen. All of the available apps are listed in an easy to navigate directory, and you can install/uninstall apps with a couple easy taps on the screen. There are not many apps available right now, but I do love the premise of this installer. Definitely something that RIM should look into doing if they haven’t already. I installed iPong, a different calculator, Sketches (like Etch-a-Sketch), and SMB Preferences which allows you to change up the the themes/settings of the home screen (a.k.a SmartBoard). I put in a Holiday theme that is going nicely with the foot of snow that is sitting outside. I don’t understand why you can’t reorder the shortcut locations on the SmartBoard though – definitely an improvement that needs to be implemented asap.

iPhone Installer 1
The best smartphone software manager I have seen yet

iPhone Installer 2
Browse software categories

iPhone Installer 3
See available titles within a software category

iPhone Installer 4
View the software details and click install!

iPhone Final Impressions
The Sketch app is pretty cool. Shaking the iPhone clears the screen!

7. Editors must attempt to play a game: iPong. Kinda fun, but not great. I’m sure there will be some cool games out for the iPhone in the near future though. As I mentioned in the first article, the alarm clock dial (which spins like the wheel on the Price is Right) is good for hours of fun.

8. Editors must attempt to browse the internet:  The iPhone’s Safari web browser is slick. There’s a small learning curve to the app (first you need to know that Safari is the web browser - I leant the iPhone to a non-Mac familiar friend this weekend who didn't realize that, and second, getting the knack of how much to zoom in and out effectively so you can both read text on the screen and click links accurately), but it makes for full web browsing on a mobile device. This is both very good and very dangerous at the same time.

I love the fact I can visit CrackBerry.com and see the site as it is meant to be seen (I don’t need to visit the http://wap.crackberry.com site). It’s dangerous, because it gulps up bandwidth. I’m really scared to see my Rogers bill this month. I’m on the $60/25 meg data plan, which with my BlackBerry Curve I normally use about 11 – 14 megs of. I just checked the Usage page on the iPhone (a great feature that every smartphone should have by the way) and it is showing I have sent 6MB and received 53MB over the EDGE Network. And that’s in under two weeks of use. Data is currently a RIP OFF in Canada. If Rogers plans to start selling the iPhone here in 2008, they are going to have to figure something out as average cell phone users looking to buy a new phone are not going to be willing to pay $100+ per month for data on their new iPhone.

iPhone Final Impressions
I like the fact CrackBerry.com views perfectly on the iPhone.

9. Editors must attempt to add music to their smartphone and use it as their music device: As mentioned, syncing up to iTunes was easy. I filled up my 4 gigs of storage immediately. I’d like to see more like 40 gigs of internal storage or the ability to expand memory with microSDHC cards.

10. Editors must attempt to watch a video on their device: The YouTube web app works great. It would be great if the YouTube player was integrated into Safari though. For example, if you check out the iPhone First Impressions article, you will notice I have two YouTube videos embedded into the article. When viewing that page on the iPhone, the YouTube videos are not displayed at all. Ideally I’d like to be able to click on that video and have the iPhone’s YouTube app launch and play it (or even just have it play within the webpage).

iPhone Final Impressions
Browsing the Most Viewed YouTube Videos

iPhone Final Impressions
Watching a YouTube video on the iPhone... bye bye Bandwidth!

All in all, the iPhone really breezed through the checklist above. There is no doubt that the out-of-the-box user experience for the iPhone is solid.

Working through the checklist and using the device for nearly two weeks, I have found the stability of the iPhone to be pretty rock solid as well. I did have to reboot it a couple of times (hold down the home key and on/off key on the top right corner of the phone for a few seconds) though to fix up some minor glitches that appeared. Two times within the Safari web browser links quit working (tapping a link never opened the new page) even though scrolling and zoom functions were still working. On another occasion the entire touchscreen became unresponsive. In both cases the reboot fixed the problems.

The iPhone as a…

Communication Tool
As a communication tool the iPhone simply does not compare to the BlackBerry. Things like placing a phone call or sending an email are actual tasks on the iPhone – you need to set out and do them, whereas on the BlackBerry you don’t need to even think about it. With the BlackBerry you can manage email very quickly, place calls easily (start dialing off the keyboard directly from the home screen) and run every instant messaging program known to mankind.

The more I use the iPhone, the more I am surprised that Apple chose to call it the iPhone. It’s more of an iGadget. Yes, it does function as a phone, but the Phone really isn’t an integrated part of the device. It’s treated just like any other application. If you’re already in another app and decide to make a phone call, you need to return to the home screen and launch the Phone app to place a call. It doesn’t matter where you are on the BlackBerry, if you hit the talk button you are going to jump right into the phone app. Considering that a lot of iPhone buyers are going to be upgrading from feature phones to the iPhone, I think many will be surprised to find that pretty standard phone features (like contacts and recents) are two clicks away from the home screen instead of being right there. Add the fact you need to turn on the display and “Slide to Unlock” and you’re really four movements away from very basic phone functions.

iPhone Final Impressions
It's easy to scroll through contacts - more difficult when rushing

iPhone Final Impressions
The keypad - for dialing numbers the old fashioned way 

iPhone Final Impressions
To dial an extension you will have to click back to the keypad 

I’ve also found that it is easy to make mistakes on the iPhone when trying to call/use it in a rush. Last Wednesday I spent a few hours waiting at the hospital (part of my real world use iPhone testing) and needed to place calls to family members to update them on how things were going. While trying to pump out the calls as fast I could, I found myself making a lot of mistakes – I accidentally dialed the wrong contact more than once while scrolling through the address book as fast as I could. On the dial pad I found myself mis-tapping. And another pain in the butt I discovered was the added to step to dial an extension. I used the keypad to dial my brother on his office line. When it came time to put in his extension I had to:

  1. pull the phone away from my ear (normal with all phones)
  2. wait for the proximity sensor to realize the phone wasn’t by my head anymore and turn the display back on (added time)
  3. hit keypad on the phone to bring up the number pad once again (added step)
  4. then dial his extension (finally!)

At that moment I was REALLY wishing I had my BlackBerry with me. Yes, the iPhone can get the job of communicating done, but the BlackBerry gets it done FASTER.

One last topic on the iPhone as a communication tool – Voice Quality. In Jennifer’s review of the iPhone she commented on how much better the reception and voice quality of it was over her Treo. For myself, I experienced the opposite. I never told anyone what phone I was using, but several times I was ask what was wrong with my voice – the comment was always that I sounded kind of “digital”. With the people who brought this up I called them back later on my Curve and was told I sounded much more “natural”. As for incoming voice quality, it was fine.

Media/Entertainment Device
I don’t need to spend much time on this one as you already know the conclusion… the iPhone does a great job of music (it is an iPod), video (amazing display), and web browsing (it’s nearly like web browsing on the computer – just needs plugin support). Just as the BlackBerry is the strongest “communicator” in the Smartphone Round Robin, the iPhone is the strongest “entertainer”.

The BlackBerry does a pretty good of playing videos and music (and with apps like FlipSide Media Player is doing a “prettier” job of getting those tasks done). The default web browser sucks at best is lackluster, and even though Opera Mini is good, after using the iPhone I want expect full web browsing to be on all smartphones by the end of 2008. RIM has always treated email as the away-from-the-office capability everyone needs. That’s no longer the case - at least to me…I think web browsing is equally important. I want the full out WWW at my fingertips.

When I was out of town for the weekend, the iPhone’s web browser is what kept me from needing my laptop. I had James cover the CrackBerry.com blogs for me (thanks James!), and even though I was far from a computer I was able to visit the site and see exactly where things were at – text, images, formatting, comments…everything exactly as it is meant to be! If I was on my BlackBerry I would have been going back to the hotel between games to check out the site. Sure, I could have got the text and images, but it’s just not the same. And for those who argue that browsing the full web is expensive (sucks bandwidth), while the point is valid I’d still like to have the option to see the web in all it’s glory.

Smartphone
Dieter from WMExperts.com and Mike from PhoneDifferent.com have often argued back and forth as to whether or not the iPhone is even a Smartphone. I think Dieter sums it up best:

Speaking strictly about unhacked iPhones: I'll just say that the iPhone feels like it's not quite a smartphone, that it's still just a super-charged featurephone that happens to have a gigantic screen and a (soft)QWERTY keyboard. It's some combination of a lack of a user-accessible file system, a lack of 3rd party apps, a lack of tweakability. The iPhone seems like it comes from a world of iPods rather than a world of work.

Now - add in the fact that the iPhone is now “hackable,” that an SDK is coming and people will be able to develop 3rd party apps for it and a lot of those hassles disappear. The OS the iPhone runs on is fully UNIX (or fully OS X, though I'm not enough of a software engineer to be able to say just what makes OS X ...OS X), so I sincerely doubt that there will be a smartphone feature or need that won't be fulfilled by some app.

Is the iPhone a smartphone? Before it was hacked and 3rd party apps became available, my answer was “not sure, maybe, not really, could be, but not quite.” Now it's “I guess so, but I'm much more comfortable saying that if it's hacked.” In 6 months the answer will be “Obviously.”

The iPhone hasn’t been around for very long, so it’s easy to nitpick on all the things the iPhone can’t do. This is where Treo people are happy to be Treo people – everything a Treo can’t do out of the box, it can do with the help of a little 3rd party software support. The BlackBerry is now getting there too. Software titles have really picked up for the BlackBerry over the past year, which is a trend I’m sure will continue.

The point of all this? The iPhone is a “smart” phone, and given a bit of time will be on the same page (at least from a consumer point of view) as Windows Mobile, Palm and BlackBerry in terms of all the little things the iPhone is capable of accomplishing.

Way to Break the Ice/Pick up Girls
I’ve now taken the iPhone “out on the town” for a few evenings of fun. Wow, does it EVER get attention. Keep in mind I’m in Canada, so while you do still see the occasional iPhone out here, it is very few and far between – the vast majority of people have yet to see one up close and in person. Based on the reactions I have gotten to the phone, I am sure that will change quickly once it hits Rogers.

There’s no doubt the iPhone has flash and sex appeal. The bright screen fired up in dark room is hard to miss. Since having the iPhone in my possession I have now counted 37 walk ups – that’s 37 strangers stopping me in public to get a better look at my phone. Pretty astonishing.

I have now concluded that the BlackBerry “gets respect” while the iPhone “gets attention”. If you’re trying to get a table in a crowded restaurant, pull out the BlackBerry and you’ll get treated as an important person working on important things and might just be able to finagle your way into that already reserved spot. Once you’re seated and hoping to get the attention of the cute brunette across the restaurant from you, checking the weather on your iPhone might just be enough to have her come over and talk to you.

Honestly, if I ever found myself single I would probably pick up an iPhone and carry both my BlackBerry and iPhone on me at all times - just so I could pull out both Attention or Respect from my pockets whenever I need it.

Final Thoughts

In my iPhone First Impressions article I went into detail on the iPhone user experience and the goods and bads of the device. My Final Impressions haven’t really changed, but they have been amplified. More than ever, I think the iPhone is a poor phone/communication device. But also more than ever, I have grown to really appreciate where the iPhone excels. As soon this review is published I’ll be going back to my BlackBerry…and believe me, I am so looking forward to that. But at the same time, the aura I have always seen around my Curve is going to shine a little less bright, simply because I know I won’t be able to see the web on my Curve the same way I could on my iPhone.

We’re starting to see lots of rumors surrounding the 9000 Series BlackBerry, and the initial specs look promising. My wish for this new BlackBerry? I want it to be a device that both Gets Respect and Attention all in one!

Topics: SPE Round Robin

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Smartphone Round Robin: Apple iPhone Final Impressions

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Although I do have to say my predictions on your review were spot on, it was an excellent review. I do have to ask, given the appropriate RIM touch, could you ever see yourself using a touch only device. I mean, if the phone operated like your curve, could you handle the lack of a physical keyboard?

it would totally depend on the job setting...

I was given my first BlackBerry when working in Business Development at CanWest Global (BIG Media Company in Canada - owns tv stations and newspapers across the county and runs Canada.com). In that setting there's no way I could use a full touchscreen device. There would be simply too many emails to fire off and you're always running around and on the move trying hard just to keep up. There's just no time to waste. So for people with busy jobs in high stress environments, I don't see there even being a choice...a physical keyboard will remain a must. If you need a smartphone to stay connected and do your job...you're going to want the BlackBerry.

In a more laid back environment, then I could get bye with the touchscreen. As long as I'm reading more emails than I'm writing, it's not that bad. I do like the touchscreen OS. Maybe the happy compromise would be an iPhone with a slide out keyboard for typing. My big gripe with the Treo and Tilt were that they are confusing when the navigation is both done with buttons and touchscreen. But if you just slammed a slide out physical keyboard onto the iPhone (but left all the navigation still on the touchscreen), then maybe you could achieve the best of both worlds - simplicity, sexiness, and retain everyday usability.

Back on the Curve and Loving it!!!!!!

Thanks for the response Kevin! I know for me, until a device hits the best of both worlds mark, I'll take the crackberry world.

The touchscreen is cool, but the thing just seems like a toy. Plus I am curious to see what is going to happen to that screen after a year or so of use. I think you touch that screen way more than any treo or palm device.

I have had the iphone and blackberry and can see both sides.
I hope the blackberry 9000 will have full web, but wish for a real keyboard at the same time.

I have not had an iphone, but when I had an 8525 using the touch screen to initiate (dial) a call was maddening. It almost required the stylus. Maybe the iphone dialing screen is better. I sure love the dial from homescreen feature of the BB. I just start typing a name, and they all pop up. That feature alone sold me. I need a good phone first, and a music/video/etc device next.

.....so I could pull out both Attention or Respect from my pockets whenever I need it.

I think that sums up the difference in the two very well. I went to a friends wedding reception and I noticed a guy surrounded by women....I wandered over there, and sure enough, he'd pulled out his Iphone-LOL

Thanks for the review.
I was still wondering if I made the right choice, as " Grass is greener on the other side"

Now, I know that I made the right choice.

So, when are you gonna review the Nokia E61i?
That was my other option :>

Thanks SO much for the clearing up of this "feature" phone. I will gladly play with it whenever I have the chance; play a game and browse the music like in Flipside. Anyways, I'll really look forward to the BB 9000 soon, and maybe rock it like there's no tomorrow. Thanks Apple, you did well, but you'll be lying in the dirt soon enough.

Kevin,
I have to say that I agree with you on the internet! I wish our little bundles of love could show us the internet world that we dream of! Showing the full internet VS the "text" internet. Now for the disagree, I think the email is a LOT better then what RIM gives up on our BBs. I would rather have my emails pulled and have my battery drained to have a full viewable email uncluttered of all the links. I know there are 3rd party apps(BBsmart viewer, empowered ect ect) but I don't want to have to pay for them! Now correct me if I'm wrong but I do believe the the Iphone has the viewable emails where everything is well, viewable. Meaning when I read my email from Gamestop it will show all the pictures and everything instead of all the links. Thats just my 2 cents,

Click

Hey Click,

Yeah, the iPhone email is fully viewable too... i.e. the CrackBerry.com newsletter looks perfect on the iPhone and is messed up on a BB.

I addressed that in the First Impressions article - RIM needs to offer the option of fully viewable emails asap too!

This is a great review. Your findings are similar to mine in my experience with trying to find the excitement of the iPhone (its moms).
Its pretty cool on the internet browser capabilities, email 'look' and SMS (threaded) side! I send a lot of email and SMS on my Curve so its great to have buttons rather than a soft key board.
My mother still sends me text msgs that are fat fingered from her iPhone. I think she tries to do it in a hurry.
The google maps installed on the iPhone doesnt have the "my location' dot feature. I had to show up my mother on that. I'm sure iPhone will have it soon enough.
We'll see what she will end up changing to by next Spring/Summer!

Awesome review Kevin,

You touched on one key thing that has been a HUGE important item through out all of my round robin posts, the "out-of-box" experience for the user, I think this is always a key factor now a days as device grow more into mini computers then just "cell phones" we seen it with WinMob...where the out of box experience is OK, but the average user may NEVER end up using all that the device will include as a whole, the "hackability" level is MASSIVE on a WinMob devices and it kinda fails as being an "average" user device, also we seen it with the Treo devices as well,I'm not taking anything from the PalmOS when I say this...and everyone has already heard,read it said before...the system is arcane and in dire need of a spruce up...this is where the "out of box" experience comes in for treo devices, you will spend alot of time and money setting up the treo devices to make the pretty and overall more functional, now we are looking at the iPhone, while things like JailBreakMe.com do exist and it does have a TON of apps that are available they do not increase that "out of box" experience that I am looking for here.....to get those apps onto your device, you have to worry about what firmware is installed on your iPhone and of course you have to neglect/decline any other updates that do get released for the iPhone, jailbreakme.com is not an apple endorsed site, your hacking your phone, your voiding your warranty (restore option is available, but uninformed users may NOT know this) and you run the risk of owning a $400+ paperweight in doing so...so while these are huge benefits to the iPhone they are not for everyone, if your a user who is not informed or not willing to go through those steps then you are basically screwed with waiting around for Apple to release the SDK and hope that some good non-web based apps come from it and lets be honest here, without jailbreakme.com, the iPhone is kinda lame/limited, web apps are good, but then that data rate factor comes into play, currently AT&T has you covered and Apple has your butt with WiFi, but that won't fly with me here in Canada, as Kevin mentioned data rates simply BLOW!!, I'd be in he poor house in no time with an iPhone...soo if your getting the point here "out of box" iPhone fails in comparison to my BlackBerry, I have web, I have Push Email, I have a bunch of 3rd party apps that DO NOT void my warranty..all this is out of the box, other 3rd party apps that also DO NOT void my warranty are available as well...

The productivity level on the iPhone is poor as well, looking at Kevins reveiw he stated it takes longer to do basic things on the iPhone, that does not help me, alot more presses to get to what you want, the keyboard, while slick looking fails imo at really being functional, I'm a heavy emailer & text user and having to check my spelling on all those emails and texts would be a pain, I'm with Kevin, gimme my spellcheck at the end and I'm good to go.

YouTube on a phone does NOTHING to impress me, I'm sorry I know alot of people love youtube, but really with things like Chris Crocker, showing his "leave brittany alone" segments, it does make me want to visit it on a daily basis to view crappy videos of a bunch of people showing me how cool coke and mentos is...once again going back to those data rates as well, I'd be broke due to my Rogers Bill from it..now if they had included like support for Stage6..the site from DivX, i'd reconsider, if the plans fitted the situation of course.

iPod, well not much to say here, Apple rules king when it comes to the music front, with their coverflow on the iPhones BIG screen...but the lack of A2DP, Yuck..Sticking with my FlipSide thnxs...FAIL!!

Browser....iPhone OWNS here, if we could see Safari like this on all mobile browsers HELL YA...this seems to be the only revolution that Steve Jobs came through on with the iPhone as far as I'm concerned.

So overall if given the choice, even after the Round Robin, I'm sticking with my BlackBerry, it goes wayy back to dieters posts..BlackBerry "Just works"..as Mike stated "There is a lot of 3rd party software available" finally as Jenn stated "the keyboard is wonderful and has great tactile response and is a pleasure to type on."....out of the box, a BlackBerry device is ready to rox0r your s0x0rs off.

Really enjoyed your review Kevin. The iPhone is certainly terrific "i" candy. I was particularly interested in your review of the keyboard - as someone who regularly sends 40-50 e-mails a day from my device, I'm not sure the full-touch iPhone is for me, but the screen is absolutely stunning. With the rumors that RIM is developing a full-touch device it will be interesting to see how it compares (that is, if it exists).

thanks for your info i think the roundrobin has helped out a lot of people and i hope it will for a wile well tell the next batch of new phones comes out

thanks for the great review kevin. this round robin definately solidifies my choice of a blackberry. and by the way it's december not october, otherwise all of you would be a little late with reviews. happy holidays!

Your final conclusion is absolutely perfect. When I briefly owned the iPhone, you really couldn't pull it out without creating a stir. However, after five days of email and Outlook sync deprivation, it was time to move back to a real device (at that time, the Blackjack). Since then, I've converted to a Crackberry addict with a Curve, and it truly is the respect machine; no only from others, but from me. After owning nearly every type and OS converged device since the Treo 180, I can resoundly state the Curve is the best combination of devices I've ever owned. Everything "just works" and it is clearly built as a strong communication device with PDA functions integrated, not just "bolted on."

Everyone should know what I mean:

1. Treo and WM, regardless of device model, feel like PDA's with a radio bolted on;

2. iPhone is clearly an iPod with a radio strapped to the back (despite the gorgeous screen);

3. Feature phones - i.e. higher end Razr like devices, are clearly cell phones with a calendar/contacts/sometimes email thrown in.

The Curve comes across as a single unified environment with the components working with/relying upon each other.

This is the one I've been waiting on. I knew I made the right choice in the BB Curve, but the IPhone was always in the back of my mind. Now it has been erased and I'm looking forward to the 9000 series. Maybe I'll get an Ipod touch until the new BB comes out. Thanks again for re-affirming my choice. I don't think the Treo or the WM were ever a real option for me (sorry guys). Great Job!

i have a friend that has the iphone, and he regrets getting it. on the other hand i have two other friends that have berrys (1 curve, 1 8830WE). i have the 8830WE. we berryers love ours.

I owned an iPhone...for 13 days, because ATT only gives you two weeks to try it out. As far as an entertainment device, it's great. The web browsing and YouTube were awesome. However, if you plan on using them with any regularity, you better keep a charger with you. While using it to watch only 40 minutes to an hour of YouTube on the train, making 5 to 10 short phone calls a day, and sending between 15 to 30 text messages my battery lasted LESS than 12 hours. When I went back to the ATT store I was told (and this is an exact quote)"Well if you're going to use the applications, of course the battery is going to die quickly." Also, the phone call quality is seriously subpar. Most people that I called thought they were on a speakerphone. Earpiece volume wasn't great either. All of the other features (aside from the phone and battery) are excellent. The keyboard takes some getting used to , but once you've got it down, typing is relatively fast. Texting on the phone looks great and entire conversations ae displayed. I also really liked the phone book and calendar. In the end I traded it in, and paid a $40 restocking fee (the iPhone is the only phone ATT sells that they charge you to return) and bought a Blackberry Curve 8310(My 1st Blackberry) and I love it. I may eventually go back to the iPhone after all of the bugs are ironed out (battery life and call quality) but for now I'm perfectly happy w/my Blackberry.

I had a friend who was on the fence between a Berry and an iphone. She was set on the iphone, but she wanted to be able to shoot emails off and just get things done like I could on my Berry.

After reading your review, I helped her make the right decision . She got a pearl.

I know I have been kicking around on the iPhone since it was first announced because having an all in one device sounds awesome, however, before this review, I have tried using the iPhone 2 - 3x and I was not a fan of the phone functions and the touchscreen keyboard was a pain to type on. After a 3 phones *1x n75, 2x razr2 v9s, I checked out the bb curve *my first bb* and I can say, that I made the best move over the the 8300 curve... I went to check out the iPhone again yesterday and all I know is the keyboard is what threw me off eventhough the web browsing is awesome but come on, I need to be able to use my phone for what is a Cell Phone.. The BB is the best phone, e-mail and it does video, music great, just web browsing is not as good as I would like but hopefully it will get better especially with the 9000 series bb.

Charlie

Iphone OS and browser is the future... Blackberry desperately needs to update its OS and browser and then it will be the perfect smartphone!

I'm sad to see this end, i really enjoyed every article and individual point of view. Idea for the next one: 4 smartphone experts are stuck for a week with crappy pay as you go phones and see who could survive the longest.

Excellent article Kevin! I enjoyed reading it! I agree with you about the "iGadget". Great name! I wish I'd had better luck with the jailbreaking like you did. I never got to play any games. I don't know what I did wrong.

That was really cool how you counted 37 strangers coming up to you to look at the iPhone! It is an attention getter for sure.

I'm having some CrackBerry withdrawal after sending back the Curve. ;-( Gonna get one of those little beauties someday!

A friend of mine was a proud owner of a BlackBerry 8310 Curve until the iPhone came out. He quickly went out and got one and was loving it. He loved everything about it, including the amazing web-browsing, since he wasn't truly addicted to email and basically wanted a web-phone with games and a calendar. He was big into texting, though. So he and a separate friend were attempting to text me at the same time to complain about my tardiness, yet again. The friend with the Curve was able to fire off the txt message to me in under 20 seconds, and it took the iPhone an entire minute to look my address up and txt me. He was so pissed and infuriated that he couldn't txt or type as fast, that he quickly returned the iPhone within the 7 day return period and went back to his BB Curve. All it takes is a side by side comparison, and in everything except real HTML web-browsing, the BB wins hands down.

If you have hotmail you cant set up your account with the iphone.
Hotmail doesn't have IMAP... Iphone requires IMAP accounts.

It was to be expected since hotmail is from msn and the iphone from Apple.

So, I suppose you didn't take the time to use the iphone as a curling stone, er, iphone stone, er, iStone? I would certainly watch a video of someone using an iphone as a curling stone if it was posted on youtube :-D

Good review :-) I don't think I'd be happy with the soft keyboard. I'm getting really fast with typing on the pearl using suretype, I hope to upgrade to something with a full keyboard sometime and further speed up my typing :-)

great review, i think you nailed all teh aspects and proved that yes the phone is innovative, touch screen with out styluses, new operating system from a computer icon and their first phone and if the formula holds, will probably continue to sell with new models. combines all somone would want in an all in one device, yet it is not as refined as people say ....yet. will definetly set standards about how other smart phones approach new devices now. would still love to own one, but my smartphone will always be a crackberry.

Assuming that you could not have a beloved blackberry, of the three devices that you used which would you pick to use day to day?

Cool review. You answered some question i had about its "smartness" and ability as a phone + cool toy. I think the iGadget names is nice.

I still don't know. I phone or an att tilt. The screen is attractive but from the use of the curve I have I know a screen isn't everything. It sure is pretty though!!!

Excellent review-- especially informative stress testing at the hospital. I will stick with tysty treo 650 (tweaked to do everything except be a macbookpro). Will admit soft keyboards are the way of the future--precious screen size is gained by removing hard keys. If only: Sony TH55 designers had enuf sense to release a GSM model--well, lets just say Sony would be at the cellular table and the iPhone would not be nearly so novel. Apple shld explore the advantages of transparency, make a popup see-through keyboard which orients landscape mode and expands overlaystyle across the entire screen-as long as this screen disappears on command your typing problem will be aided by much larger keys. As long as a user could set the tranparencylevel he could see through the keyboard to what he was typing underneath.

I enjoyed reading this article on final thoughts about the iphone, I would have to say that the new 9000 model would have such specs if it weren't for apple's invention. I appreciate the iphone and it's minimalistic approach that makes Apple it's signature trait. Thank you guys for such a grand experience in learning about different models of smart phones, I hope to see the round robin next year and continue to learn more from you guys. Much appreciated.

Your final thought:
"I want it to be a device that both Gets Respect and Attention all in one! "

That's all I want as well! My boyfriend has an iphone and while I love to use it for the web when we are out, I can't stand that keyboard! I switched from the Tmobile Wing to becoming a bb owner for that reason alone!

He has offered to get me an iphone and that would mean giving up my beloved sweet baby Curve. Even though I have been tempted -and only for the web browsing, I just could never switch. The Curve does everything and more (with 3rd party apps) that I could ever hope for. The last final piece to the puzzle and what would make BB the ultimate smartphone is to get the web the way the iphone has it.

I dream about it everyday...

I really like reading these phone reviews even though it is easy to see that the BB is the best device for me.