Smartphone Round Robin: Back on the Crack and Loving It!

Back on the CrackBerry and Loving It!
By Kevin Michaluk on 8 Dec 2007 04:50 pm EST

It's Good to Be a BlackBerry User! 

Vive le BlackBerry! Wow, does it EVER feel great to be Back on the Crack again. The Smartphone Round Robin has had me going sans BlackBerry Curve for over a month, during which time I used the AT&T Tilt, Palm Treo 680 and Apple iPhone. And while I did manage to get over my initial BlackBerry withdrawal and survive the month on these other smartphones, coming home to my Curve quickly made me realize just how good us BlackBerry users have it. RIM got it right. They sell devices that just work – they are easy to use and get the job done fast and efficiently. BlackBerrys are the ultimate communication tool.

RIM can’t rest on their past successes though… there is still work to do. I come away from the Round Robin with a small wish list of things I want to see on future BlackBerrys, but the fact remains that out of the devices in the Round Robin, I think RIM has the best grasp of how a person actually integrates mobile technology into their daily lives. A device like a smartphone has to begin with everyday usability, and RIM has this equation solved better than anyone. It is the little things that put the Crack in CrackBerry, and because of that, RIM has by far the best foundation to continue building on as we see the next generation of smartphones begin to emerge. To see how I celebrated my return to the BlackBerry and for more final thoughts, Read On!

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.

Party Time, Excellent!

I celebrated the return to my BlackBerry Curve. I figured it was well-warranted after having to neglect ‘My Precious’ (said like Golem) for so long. I wasn’t sure if she’d forgive me for my month long absence, so I took the safe route and showered her with gifts:

  • New Battery Cover -  had worn a spot where my index finger rubs on the battery cover.
  • 6 Gig Media Card so long 4GB, hello 6! When it comes to memory cards, bigger is better!
  • New Google Maps don’t have GPS on my gal, but I installed the new Google Maps and it seems to be doing a great job of pinpointing where I am with My Location.
  • FlipSide installed the new FlipSide Media Player… very cool and works great!
  • Holiday Theme – take a look at the sneak peak… we’re getting this tweaked up right now and it will be available next week  on the site for FREE! Three versions getting made up for 88xx, Curve and Pearl Series BlackBerrys. I just installed and tested it on my Curve and it seems to be looking and working great!
  • OtterBox Defender for the Curve just to make sure I don’t scratch up the battery cover like that again. I like to play rough.

So many BlackBerry goodies came out over the past month… I just had to spoil my Curve with some new software and accessories. It’s only been 48 hours, but my CrackBerry Addiction is already back in full swing (did it ever really leave? I think not!).

A New Battery Cover for my Baby
A New Battery Cover for my Baby was in Order!

6 Gigs of Storage!
While I had the Battery Cover off, I figured a new 6GB MicroSDHC
card would make a nice present to myself and my BlackBerry.

FlipSide MP3 Player Brings CoverFlow to the BlackBerry - it's cool.
I've decided anytime I show an Album cover on this site, it will
always be of Gordon Lightfoot. Gord is cool. Holiday Theme
The Holiday Zen theme. We'll be giving this away in
a couple of days for FREE as our little present to you. Just getting
some final touches taken care of. But it's looking great!

The BlackBerry Advantage

I tried to be really fair during the Round Robin and keep my articles from becoming too biased in favor of the BlackBerry. If you haven’t checked out the previous Round Robin articles, you may want to do so before moving on:

Back in September, the first BlackBerry 101 article I wrote was called Why BlackBerry? and in it I went through some of the reasons why choosing a BlackBerry over other smartphones on the market would make good sense for most people. At the time, I wrote the article based on what I thought was logical assumptions – I had not actually used any other modern day smartphone other than the BlackBerry. Thanks to the Round Robin I have gained hands-on experience with the competition and upon reflection can honestly say that first lecture was and still is right on the money. If anything, I am now that much more adamant about the arguments of why choosing a BlackBerry over another smartphone is the way to go. Check out the Why BlackBerry? post for more details, but here’s what I consider to be some of the CrackBerry’s most important selling points:

  • Easy to Learn – it’s often said the best way to sell a BlackBerry is to give a person one to use for a few days. That truly is the case. The only real learning curve on the BlackBerry is to realize the importance of the Menu/Option key. Once you know that, the BlackBerry OS is incredibly intuitive… it always seems to know exactly what you want to do (send SMS, place call, copy, paste, etc. etc.). And you don’t need to be a gadget person (or even know how to use a computer for that matter) to become proficient with the BlackBerry very quickly.
  • Easy to Use - the BlackBerry offers unparalleled one-handed operation. I talked about this lot during the Round Robin, but you barely need to move your thumb a half inch and you can fully navigate your way around the BlackBerry OS. The other phones in the Round Robin required a two-handed approach out of the box. With a lot of tweaking I was able to turn the Treo 680 into mainly a one-handed phone (which means I programmed the keyboard with a ton of shortcuts and took the touchscreen out of the equation), but even after these mods I found my other hand was often required. Chalk this up to the benefit of not having a touchscreen on the BlackBerry – as soon as you put one onto a phone it turns into a two-handed device. 
  • Best Email Ever – BlackBerry users are spoiled by the fact our email is wicked. Switch over to other phones and you won’t find yourself in the same position. BlackBerry Connect managed to save the day for me on the AT&T Tilt, but even after a week of playing with the email on Treo 680 it still never worked great and the iPhone with its “pull” email turned me into an email checker instead of an email getter. In other words, it sucked.
  • Faster to Use – Each of the smartphones in the Round Robin can do things that the others can’t do out of the box… the iPhone has full web browsing, the BlackBerry has BlackBerry Messenger, Windows Mobile has great multitasking, etc. But if you look at the common smartphone tasks that each of the phones can do (like make calls, send/receive emails and text messages, listen to music, pair Bluetooth devices, etc.) the time you need to spend on the BlackBerry to get things done is always less than on the other phones. Picture this: a BlackBerry User and an iPhone user are standing side by side. A third person sends an email to both the BlackBerry user and iPhone user (we’ll assume the iPhone user is on Yahoo and getting the email pushed to his device). For the BlackBerry user to check the email, he only needs to pull the BlackBerry out of his holster – the device automatically powers on and the email message is immediately displayed. The iPhone user will need to click a button to power on the device, slide to unlock the device and then tap the mail icon to open the email app, and then tap on the message to read it….SLOW. As mentioned earlier, RIM has figured out how people will actually use their device and have optimized its functionality to suit. 
  • The Crack is in the Details – The CrackBerry nickname is no accident. RIM has built devices that are addictive. None of the other devices in the Round Robin possessed that quality. Even the iPhone, which is flashy and fun to use (assuming you have time to kill and aren’t in a rush to get anything done), doesn’t have that same sort of magnetic draw that my BlackBerry Curve does. It’s the little things:
    • My Curve is Always On and Always Connected. You don’t need to hit a power button on a BlackBerry ever. Just pull it out of its case, or hit any button on the keyboard and its ready for service. 
    • The message notification light calls out to you. When you see it blinking you are compelled to reach for it.
    • Fits like a glove. The Curve is an extension of the hand. The iPhone was uncomfortable to hold – it felt good to put it away. On the other hand, when a BlackBerry is put away you feel like you’re missing something.
  • Best Community Ever - I had a great time over at Treo Central, Phone Different and WMExperts hanging out in their forums (everyone was super friendly and knowledgable) me biased but I just love our community. Best smartphone community website EVER. It's worth buying a BlackBerry just to be associated with this site! Thanks to all our members for making it that way!

My Wish List

The competition isn’t totally unfortunate. While the BlackBerry is by far the most usable, all-encompassing smartphone package on the market today, there were some features from the other phones in the Round Robin that gave cause for me to feel envy.

Round Robin Website
You Can Visit the Round Robin Website Anytime. It's a great resource for those
in the market for a new smartphone. Lots of perspective from different mobile users!

From the AT&T Tilt:

  • I liked the All-in-One nature of the Device. GPS, WiFi, 3G, Video Recording and Camera (no flash though!). The Tilt basically has every cool function you can get in a smartphone today crammed into one device. Are you paying attention RIM? No more of this you can have either WiFi or GPS stuff. I know there’s not a lot of room in the Curve and Pearl form factors, but come on…its almost 2008 and you’re a smart company – figure it out! Oh…and make sure you don’t sacrifice battery life while doing so!
  • Computer-like file system and document editing. Windows mobile offers the power of a personal computer in a smartphone. I don’t want to actually do work on my BlackBerry (like edit word docs), but if I ever NEED to I would like to have that capability built in.

From the Apple iPhone:

  • Nice piece of Glass. It’s big and it’s bright. I want it!
  • Full Web Browsing. I want the actual Internet on my smartphone. None of this wap.whatever stuff anymore.
  • Full Email Viewing. The Newsletter should not look better on an iPhone than on a BlackBerry.
  • Pretty it up! While the iPhone transitions drove me nearly insane, the iPhone looks modern. The BlackBerry OS still retains that “designed by an engineer and throw on some lipstick” look. It’s Texty, not Sexy. While it’s not right, in the world we live Looks Do Matter. I want to be around 50 years from now, so that means at some point (sooner than later I hope) RIM is going to have to take its operating system in for some cosmetic surgery.
  • Touchscreen? After the Round Robin, my opinion is that an OS needs to be either Full Touch (like the iPhone) or No Touch (like the BlackBerry). It seems this is the only way to create a really intuitive user experience. The hybrid Windows Mobile and the Palm OS devices botched that user experience for me. To compete in the consumer market, RIM will eventually have to release a touchscreen-equipped consumer device. I just hope that by the time they release it they really have that user experience nailed down tight.

From the Palm Treo 680:

  • Ummm…… Hmm… uhh…. Let’s move on! Slap! Ouch! 

Until Next Time

I’m going to Cuba for vacation from December 31st to January 7th. As it stands, I’ll have to take both my BlackBerry and laptop with me in order to stay on top of things. However, if we took the wish list above and crammed into my Curve, I would be able to leave my laptop at home. That’s what I want to see in my BlackBerry – the ability to do everything I need to do at my fingertips. I think the race is on to make that happen in the smartphone world (while retaining usability and battery life!) and the competition is not sitting still. I hope when it comes time for the Second Annual Smartphone Round Robin that the BlackBerry I am using won’t be just a Palm or iPhone or Windows Mobile killer… I want it to be a laptop killer!

Topics: Editorial

Reader comments

Smartphone Round Robin: Back on the Crack and Loving It!


So...since we are pretty much at the end here....I'm posing the same question to all...if you were FORCED to pick another device to use from the round robin, what would be the final choice?

I'm a Palm girl--I'd go with the Treo w/ the Palm OS......I still mourn the lack of third party apps on BB.....

I'm glad to see how much you love your berry. The more I read this the more i realize how although those phones might be tempting they got nothing on our berrys.

I think I would go with the iPhone. (Maybe because I'm a sucker for Apple's products? Hah!) Nah, only because of the potential the iPhone has. Yes the first generation iPhone had problems and issues, but that's a given, especially for a first model from Apple so I'm expecting them to come harder and better the second time around. I wouldn't go with the Treo, well because it uses Windows Mobile (and I don't like the Palm OS). In terms of functionality and features, I think we've seen the maximum potential from Palm and their Treo's and that's not saying that the Treo is a garbage device, it isn't. Again, moving forward, I think Apple's iPhone will deliever, but who knows, maybe Palm comes out with something new? But for now, I will rely on my "Crack" addiction!

glad to have you back into the crack for sure! It was nice seeing reviews of other devices out there.

I also believe that the Blackberry is just about the perfect device for communication and I belive that RIM is listening and will deliver all those features that we need and WANT in the very near future.

Welcome back to the Crack!!

Well this pretty much nails it for me. Once the Curve is available on Sprint, that's the Smartphone I'm going for. RIM seems to get it right, and I really don't want to be on a device playing "catch-up" with the leader of the industry.

I was a treo user for the past 3 years. Got my first taste of the crack last summer (played around with a co-worker's), and made the switch this last month.

Couldn't be happier, I just wish I had switched earlier, so that I didn't have to waste the last 3 years of my life dealing with the treo (resets, device freezing up, etc.).

I just hope that RIM doesn't ultimately lose out to Windows Mobile in the smartphone wars!

Welcome back to the Crack Block!

I was once leaning towards an iPhone but decided not to once I heard the dreaded "No Third Party Apps".

as a new convert to Blackberry, i'm already sold on it. The only real competition in my opinion is the iPhone, only because it's more compatible with Mac. If RIM can fix that, they've got it all.

I love my 8130(cept it's memory filling issues) but hope Sprint carries the Curve sooner than later. Sigh.

I tell you what, i dont think i could use any other phone besides my curve. It may not have GPS or Wifi on it, but i have a puck and that gets the job done :D

Definitely wouldn't mind getting a blackberry. My B-day is on December 12th! Wouldn't that be nice!

The iPhone looks good but there is so many flaws, blackberry all the way. Definitely looking forward to ditching this razr v3 one day ;o

I have been a BlackBerry user since 2001 with the pager-style form factor. I've tried Windows Mobile and Symbian Smartphones over the years, but always come back to the latest BlackBerry, for the same reasons you articulate in your article - it JUST WORKS! The one thing I'd like to see RIM pull-off is a clamshell BlackBerry. They'd obviously have to use the SureType technology (I've used both a BlackBerry 7100 and the Pearl, but am now on the Curve). I'd be willing to sacrifice the full keyboard for the clamshell. Does anyone else out there want a RIM clamshell?

Hey Kevin,

As usual your posts are the most informative, interesting and fun to read.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Or, as they used to say, "Have a Cool Yule and a Drunken First."

And last but not least, enjoy your vacation in CUBA!!

- CarB0b

Oh Crackberry, oh Crackberry,
You've enlightend me to use my Blackberry.
The push email, is oh so right,
with a backlit screen, I can WAP sites all night.
Oh Crackberry, oh Crackberry,
You really are a friend to me!

Merry Christmas!
Matt Lomeli

So Kevin welcome back from one month nigtmare...

I hope you want have to go thru this again... LOL

And send me this theme ASP...

I have been a faithful reader of all these reviews because i was caught up in the hype of EACH of these devices. At the end of the day i am confident in the fact that RIM may be my final device manufacturer ever!!! I have fallen in love with the Curve and don't see me being so addicted to any other device (that says alot because i change phones like i change socks).

I have decided to follow kevin's lead and treat my "blackBaby" to early christmas gifts of a new seidio holster and extended life battery. I will next be jumping into a new bluetooth stereo headset and a 6GB memory card (she has been a good girl to me these last few months).

All i need now is os 4.3 and i will be a happy camper!!! Crackberry, thank you for letting me discover you and my curve!!!

P.S. Kev keep up the good work!!!

The Curve is great, but I really love the form factor of the Pearl. Of course, I wouldn't turn down a FREE Curve. And I'd still like to see what RIM has in store for next year. We have no idea what the 9xxx series will look like.

There is no substitution for a berry.... Now the whole world can see that! Been an addict for 5 years now, and still love my 7230 (number 3) Tried the pearl for a while, but i need the full keyboard. So the curve should be the one for me. Now doing my best to get my company to switch to berry again. All my colleagues were tempted to go to the dark side, ipaq... Have a berry christmas and a curvy new year!

I am really looking forward to try an iPhone for some hours but I am sure I would not exchange my Curve with it. I am very happy with my Curve - there is no feature missing but I am also curious what features the next generation of RIM devices has.

Keep on the good work!

The new theme looks cool for this holiday season. Is it possible that when you make it available you could also make the wallpaper available on its own?

You've got it right about the addictive quality that the crackberry has. I started 2 yrs ago with the 7105t and now have the 8700. I just want to hold it and play with it. I get excited whenever I get an email, and when I am able to respond immediately and resolve an issue immediately, I rejoice!

I cant imagine myself with any other phone than my blackberry, and I'm also addicted. Sometimes I love my curve so much, I use it as a paperweight, a backscratcher, a bookmark, a self defense device, and after all that, it still feels like the blackberry. =]

At this point, I can't really see myself w/o a BlackBerry. Yeah, the other devices have some cool features, be we have more of an overall package that is more appealing. BB for life, lol.

If the BlackBerry Connect software was a little better then I'd greatly prefer using a Windows Mobile device with BlackBerry Connect. I am actually VERY close to trading my Curve for a Tilt just to try it out for myself. I kind of miss my HTC TyTN from a few months ago so maybe this will be a good thing...especially with the built in GPS.

This is my first smart phone so I have no experience with the others in the round robin but the Curve does everything I need.

I purchased my first BlackBerry 2 months ago (Pearl) and quickly upgraded to the Curve. My wife and I both have BlackBerry devices and I have made the decision that we will never have anything else.

I think the iPhone is a cool device but its just not quite right yet. It took Apple 3 generations to get the iPod right so I'm expecting the iPhone to take at least 2 generations.

Decided this summer, after mediocre (at best) success with Treos and WM phones over the last five or so years, to get on the Crack. Took me literally five minutes to configure my 8830WE (aside from the counterintuitive ringer scheme settings) and I'll never look back.

Usability is the key, and RIM's got it.

You must be happy to have the Curve back in your hands :-) It looks beautiful in the new defender with the new theme! Looking forward to the new theme.

I dig the new theme, can't wait to have Christmas on the berry!

Nice to see, after having tried other coompeteing devices, what you which RIM would implement. I look forward to the day of a laptop killer too :)

I am really thinking about the iPHONE... But I really know better. I'm looking fwd to the blackberry 3g device... One day... I love the Crack... Crackberry that is...


A FREE BB thing for free!

Now, only if the iphone weren't so appealing to me

I don't even own a RIM device yet, and I already have to check this site several times a day... Only 58 days and counting until my upgrade... 8130, HERE I COME!

I have the tilt for a week now. It does everything you can imagine. But actually using it as a phoine or text device is cumbersome. Extremely difficult to use it one handed. very awkward to answer or call out. I tend to call people by mistake when viewing texts. I plan on returning it this week and getting either the Curve or The Pearl. Any suggestions

I was a Palm device user since 1999, and an avid graffiti'ist. So, when I recently ordered my first smart phone on ebay I of course went for a Treo. Well, the Treo arrived DOA and I decided on impulse to go for a BB 8700c, also purchased on ebay.

Quite frankly, I'm really impressed and probably converted for good. The experience is surprisingly transparent. The menuing system just knows what I want to do, and I don't miss graffiti nor the palm experience, at all.

Thanks for the interesting round robin.

ugh. It's sad that the only thing I can now concentrate on in the entire article, is the fact that you're traveling to Cuba.

Meh. 90 miles.

I'm thinking Winnipeg to Cuba is thousands of miles for me. Looking forward to it. It's been COLD out here.

Can't wait to get my Tan on! :)

who knows that he has to make it up to his lady for neglecting her--even if it's for his job-lol.....and gotta ADORE a man who love Gordon Lightfoot....may the house you live in never fall down.

Cool. It must have been fun to test all those phones first hand. Makes you appreciate what you have (BB) a whole lot more!!!

Thanks for this Round Robin experience! It was a nice diplomatic, cordial throwdown. ;) Not to be a yes-man, but your wrap-up above pretty much sums up my opinion nicely. I'm almost 6 months into my first BlackBerry, and I now consider myself completely converted from a Nokia fanboy to a CrackBerry for life!

man that theme is great! how did your curve like the mem upgrade? im thinking about going up to the 8 gig myself!

I went for the sexy iPhone but found out soon after the sexyness fades fast. I came back to my berry a loving it.

Having used all of the same models (well - only could stand the iPhone for a week), I agree 100% with your assessment. No smartphone I've ever owned (going back to the Treo 270) has come as close to the perfect all around device.

Great article Kevin! Even though you couldn't think of anything good to say about my Copper baby!LOL! I enjoyed reading your article and seeing what you thought about all the devices and how you were so happy to come back home! How sweet that you got your gal those new gifts! I bet she's looking great! I love that holiday theme! I wish I had a Curve to put that theme on! I will get one someday for sure!

Have fun in Cuba! You deserve a nice break! ;-)

Hey Jennifer,

Sorry about that. I was really nice to Palm the whole Round Robin, and just had to take one shot at it.

The Treo is a solid easy to use device for sure...I just think that there's not much incentive to move over to one from a hardcore BlackBerry user point of view. It's probably a similar case the other way around too. If you want a touchscreen you'd take the Palm, if you want pure one hand ease of use and better email you'd go with the Berry.

Looking forward to Cuba. Need to get some Vitamin D from the sun! Cold out here and I've been indoors too much lately!

I switched from the Treo 700p to the Curve this summer. The first reason was better cellular coverage at my house, but I was also getting a little peeved with the resets on the Treo. I started with the Treo 300, moved to the 600, the 650, and finally the 700. I have never been happier than with the Curve. Blackberrys rock!

I just got my BB Curve 8310 and I have to say it's AMAZING!! I spent endless hours searching and researching all the popular smartphones out right now and I'm glad to say now that I made the right decision. RIM really has a hold on the market for productive, intuitive and reliable devices. Not to mention this great community in which I learned everything I know.

After reading all the smartphone round robin blogs I am convince that I'll be droping my Treo 750 and getting a red curve soon.

I was a happy Treo user for the past 4 years, made the mistake of trying a WM6 phone (lasted all of a week before I couldn't stand it anymore and sent it back) and have now been a BB8310 user for a week. I'm absolutely loving it. The decent keyboard was a biggie for me and I've found that I much prefer the BB keyboard to the Treo's. Hardly miss the touchscreen at all and having a GPS is very cool. The only thing I don't like is when I get an email or SMS, the screen doesn't come on automatically. Can't see any preference for it.