Smartphone Round Robin: Apple iPhone First Impressions

Smartphone Round Robin: iPhone First Impressions
By Kevin Michaluk on 27 Nov 2007 11:50 am EST
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Full Touchscreen iPhone Experience Better Than Expected

Thanks to the Smartphone Round Robin, I have now spent the better part of a month without my BlackBerry Curve. I first used the Windows Mobile 6 powered AT&T Tilt and from there moved onto the Palm Treo 680. While both of these devices retained some similarities to my BlackBerry  Curve (both devices have physical keyboards) I never had an easy time transitioning to either of these devices. Though I became extremely familiar with each device after a week of use, I never grew to be comfortable with either.

Round #3 of the Smartphone Round Robin put the Apple iPhone into my hands, which I have now been using for close to a week. After my luke-warm experiences with the hybrid (full keyboard and touchscreen) Tilt and 680, I was sure that the iPhone’s full touchscreen would be my bane. It turns out I was wrong – for this smartphone user it seems the key to a good user experience is to either go No Touch (aka BlackBerry) or Full Touch (aka iPhone).

All in all, I have to admit I’ve been very impressed with the iPhone. As a hardcore BlackBerry user, there are definitely things about the iPhone that really irk me, but looking at it from the eyes of a typical cell phone user there’s a good reason Apple is going to sell millions of iPhones in the months ahead – it’s sexy, has a very good out-of-the-box user experience, does most smartphone tasks well, and is sexy (did I say that?). There’s lots to talk about here, so let’s get started!

Don't forget, a comment to this post counts as an entry in the Smartphone Round Robin Contest! Remember to be logged in before commenting!

Disclaimer - Hacked on Rogers
First off, the iPhone I received was hacked/unlocked/jailbreaked (thanks Mike from PhoneDifferent.com) so I could immediately toss in my Rogers SIM card and experience the iPhone as a typical new customer would. For now this means I am stuck with the same v1.1.1 firmware that the iPhone shipped with. If I upgrade to the v.1.1.2 firmware that’s now available it’ll break my iPhone (at least until a new jailbreak is released). Limitations to this? Not many for the time being! The update adds a charging icon to iTunes when the iPhone is attached and there’s a hack to get free ringtones – but other than that I’m not really missing out on anything. For the purpose of this review, I am essentially good to go! Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s move on!

iPhone Hardware – Cool but not Comfortable

Like RIM with the BlackBerry, with the iPhone Apple has immediately achieved an ‘iconic’ look. And because it is iconic, it’s hard to comment on the actual “looks” of the device. When I look at the iPhone, I see an iPhone. In the gadget world it’s important to be able to stand out in a crowd, so I give applause to both RIM and Apple for being able to create devices that do so. A distinct look is definitely paramount in establishing a top brand. Even my mom can spot a BlackBerry at 100 yards, and I’m sure with time (remember, the iPhone isn’t in Canada yet) she’ll be able to do the same with the iPhone.

iPhone
An iconic look - not much to see with the display turned off

With the iPhone in standby, there really is not much to look at or comment on. The iPhone is a simplistic, relatively unassuming slab object with a chrome border (and I hear it blends pretty well). This is ok though, as it provides the base for what really impresses on the iPhone – it’s sexy high resolution display. Power up the device and you’re greeted by a bright, welcoming, attention getting display. The iPhone’s 320x480 screen sets a new standard for smartphone displays – it has wonderful pixel density and the glass seems pretty tough (no scratches and I’ve left it in my pocket with keys when out and about). I hope RIM rises to and surpasses what I now consider to be the benchmark by which smartphone displays will be judged.

iPhone
The iPhone's touchscreen display is impressive

The iPhone has a couple of sensors built in to help automatically control the display: a proximity sensor turns off the display when you hold it up to your face while talking; an accelerometer detects when you rotate the device from portrait to landscape and changes the display within certain applications to take advantage of the additional width; and a light sensor automatically adjusts the display’s brightness to the appropriate level for the current ambient light. In practice, I found the proximity sensor to work very well, which is good, because the display generates heat and would sunburn your cheek if it didn’t shut off. The accelerometer worked ok, but I had to learn to rotate the iPhone the way it likes to be rotated (not a perfect technology). As for the ambient light sensor, I actually haven’t really noticed its actions at all. Therefore, I think it’s safe to assume the sensor is doing its job as the display has always looked vibrant. 

Dieter, in his intial impressions of the iPhone article, talked about the “singularity” of the device. Essentially, Apple’s decision to exclude a physical keyboard and removable battery allowed them to build a smartphone that’s more of an object than a gadget. When you pick up a BlackBerry you immediately notice a lot of pieces working together (keyboard, navigation buttons, trackball, battery, battery cover, etc.). When you pick up the iPhone, it’s one solid piece – it feels more like holding a baseball or a frisbee than a component-filled mobile phone (this feeling has tempted me to chuck the iPhone a couple of times as I’m curious to see how it would fly, but I have managed to resist the temptation so far). I hate the fact I can’t remove the battery, but I’ll agree with Dieter in that the “singularity” of the iPhone is pretty cool.

While I give the iPhone hardware two thumbs up for looking good, my praise ends when it comes to actually holding and using the device. It’s not entirely bad – I just think there’s still room for improvement. First problem - it’s just too damn slippery. I’ve now dropped the iPhone twice (in less than one week). At least the build quality is there - it’s survived two hard falls unscathed. I know Apple is all about appearances and wants to go with the minimalist look, but I think some rubberized grip on the sides (like the BlackBerry Curve) would go a long way. I’m pretty sure the PhoneDifferent Accessory Store will be selling a lot of iPhone skins and cases in the months ahead – it’s the first thing I would invest in if I actually owned one. Ignoring the slipperiness factor, I just find the iPhone uncomfortable to hold. The iPhone is about the same width as the Curve, but is thinner, taller, and heavier by about 40grams. Sum it all up, and I find it awkward to grip and hold to my ear to talk on.

iPhone vs. Blackberry Curve
The Curve and iPhone are about the same width, but the iPhone
is longer and thinner. Somehow the Curve is super comfortable
to hold, and the iPhone is awkward.

In terms of holding/using the device, I’ve taken both two-handed and one-handed approaches. I think the iPhone is mainly designed for two-handed use. The most comfortable way for me to use the iPhone is to hold it in my left hand and tap the screen with my right index finger. This includes typing out emails and text messages. I tried the CrackBerry two-thumb approach while typing on the virtual/soft keyboard, but that quickly proved to be a bad idea. It takes a lot of concentration to type fast on the iPhone and avoid making mistakes and when you do make a mistake it takes a lot of time to correct it. Some recent research says people can type as fast on the iPhone as on a BlackBerry, but on average will make more errors. From personal experience, I’d have to agree with the findings. I’m still faster on the BlackBerry and can type with more accuracy, but I’ll have to take back the things I’ve said in the past about not being able to type fast on a full touchscreen device. It’s not necessarily easy, and I don’t see the soft keyboard dominating the business world anytime soon, but you can be quick on a soft keyboard. Good luck trying to send a message while in the car however (as a passenger of course – you shouldn’t use any smartphone while driving…though if you had to the BlackBerry would be the easiest by far), the bouncing around of your eyes and fingers makes it impossible to tap accurately. No soft keyboard will compete with a physical keyboard in a bumpy environment EVER.

Typing 50 Words Per Minute on the iPhone
This guy uses a two thumb CrackBerry approach and goes fast.
Note that he's not actually "holding" the phone. In practice, I found it necessary
to hold the phone in my left hand and type with my right index finger.

I can almost use the iPhone comfortably with just one-hand, but not quite. If I hold it in my right hand and use my right thumb for tapping, I can navigate around the phone for the most part (all of the icons/shortcuts are pretty big and easy enough to tap) but find myself having to re-adjust my thumb/hand position often to maintain a grip on the phone and tap where I want to tap. Keep in mind that even if using the phone one-handed, when it comes to typing out messages you’ll have to go back to the two-handed, type with index finger approach. Attempts to type on the soft-keyboard with my right thumb while holding the phone in my right hand have not turned out so well.

iPhone
My typing technique - hold in left hand, tap with right index finger

I put a lot of value into being able to use a phone one handed – it’s a big part of the “Crack” in CrackBerry addiction. It means you can use the phone nearly anywhere (board room, dinner table, church or class) and only eyes trained to detect the CrackBerry Prayer will know you’re into your phone and not doing what you’re supposed to be doing. BlackBerrys are nearly ventriloquist phones – you can be sitting in a room perfectly still, and all you really need to get into your CrackBerry world if you so desire is a half an eyeball turned towards your BlackBerry and a half inch of movement out of one thumb. The centralized trackball with menu/back button form factor is seriously amazing. You can use the iPhone one-handed, but its one-handed ease-of-use is nowhere near that of a trackball-equipped BlackBerry.

Setting up the iPhone

Was very easy. The most difficult/time-consuming part was actually finding something small enough to stick in the SIM card holder hole to pop it out and get my SIM in (seriously, I had to search my house for twenty minutes. Apparently I don’t use paper clips. I eventually found a tack).

iPhone
A tack or paperclip is required to open up the SIM card holder

iPhone
SIM card being inserted

I use both a PC and a Mac (PC for work, Mac for play) and therefore needed to sync the iPhone to both. All my music is on my Mac, so I did that first. I plugged in the cable, the iPhone was automatically detected and opened iTunes, and I soon had 3.6 gigs of music loaded up.

From there, I plugged the iPhone into my PC and nothing really happened. That’s when I realized I didn’t have iTunes on it (I swore I did…I guess that was my old laptop). I downloaded a copy of iTunes, installed it, then plugged in the iPhone again. This time the device was recognized, and in a couple of clicks I had all my PIM data synced from Outlook. I’ve been synching the iPhone back and forth between both computers regularly, and it’s been working flawlessly. The only thing I have had to watch out for is NOT clicking ok when the prompt to upgrade to firmware v.1.1.2 pops up.

Turning on the WiFi and connecting to my local network was easy. Settings > Wi-Fi, enter my password and that was done. The Smartphone Round Robin has made me realize every phone should have Wi-Fi. RIM really needs to get it into every phone – no exceptions.

Setting up my email account was equally easy. I googled “iphone gmail imap video” and immediately found the YouTube video below that walked me through the steps. Now of course I cried when I realized the iPhone would only check for new messages every 15 minutes, but was happy to at least have it working within a few minutes (it took a lot more effort to get my Gmail going on the Treo 680). Can/will RIM and Apple ever release BlackBerry Connect for the iPhone?

Setting up Gmail IMAP on the iPhone

The first time I left my house with the iPhone and lost range on my WiFi connection I found I then had no data connection present - email, web browser, weather app, etc. simply would not work. I thought not being able to connect to the Roger’s Edge network might be a side effect of running a hacked iPhone. Upon return home, a quick google search set me straight – I had to go to Settings > General > Network > Edge and enter in
APN: internet.com
Username: wapuser1
Password: wap

I was impressed with how easy it was to set up the iPhone – yes, I had to use Google a couple of times, but the answers were found quick and the overall experience was painless (other than when I jammed myself with that stupid tack!).

Operating System

The iPhone’s touchscreen GUI is very intuitive to use. I’ve always considered the BlackBerry OS to be intuitive, but I think the iPhone beats it there. By intuitive I don’t mean “powerful” or “feature rich” or “well-integrated”. The iPhone OS is intuitive because there is only one way to use it. I’m reminded of the Productions class I took in Business School and the term “poka-yoke” - It doesn’t matter who you are or what your level of smartphone experience is, when you pick up the iPhone you are going to be using the OS the way Apple wants you to use it which will be the same way every other iPhone user does. There is really only one path to take in order to accomplish what you are trying to do at any given time.

With the other devices in the Round Robin (BlackBerry Curve, AT&T Tilt, and Treo 680) I think there are both “newbie” and “expert” ways to use the devices. The “expert” method (lots of keyboard shortcuts, hack away the unnecessary parts of the OS, hide unused icons, etc.) yield an incredibly efficient and easy to use device, while the “newbie” way of using a device (scroll and click) gets the job done, but in a slightly more tedious manner.

The iPhone is sort of stuck in “newbie” mode - it doesn’t offer a “higher level” of use. It’s navigation is hierarchical in design with every click taking you one more step away from the homescreen (not unlike the BlackBerry OS). The major departure from the BlackBerry OS is in the iPhone’s lack of menu/back buttons. With the iPhone OS, all of your menu options are present on every screen you are looking at. I guess you can consider this a good thing as what you see is what you get, but I consider it bad as the phone seems to be lacking in a lot of options (more to come in Final Impressions article). A quick example - How do I copy and paste text out of an SMS message and into a contact within the Address Book? That option just does not seem to exist.

I’ve often talked about how well-integrated and mind-reading the BlackBerry OS is. When you click the menu button at any given time, it’s like the device knows exactly what you want do next (and more). While every application on the BlackBerry OS is always as integrated into other applications as much as possible, this does not seem to be the case with the iPhone. The iPhone is much more like the Treo in this respect. It likes to focus on running one app at a time.

I really wish the iPhone had a back button. Granted, it would take away from the poka-yoke intuitiveness I just spoke about, but I really hate having to hit Done, Ok, Settings or Messages on the touchscreen to return to the screen prior on an OS that’s so hierarchical in nature. With the phone held in my left hand, if there was only a Back Button on the top right hand corner of the device (where my index finger wraps around the phone while holding it), I’d be able to back pedal within apps so much more quickly.

In terms of speed, the iPhone’s OS is smooth, but definitely not snappy. The design folk at Apple have loaded the iPhone with lots of screen to screen transitions that soak up time. Remember when PowerPoint first became mainstream in business, and how people always loaded their presentations with slide effects? It was neat at first and then became old and annoying real quick. That’s the iPhone. Everything is always zooming in or sliding out. It’s smooth and looks cool at first, but in a world where time is money the iPhone assumes you have nothing better to do than play with your smartphone all day long. Life’s short. Every second counts. And the iPhone soaks up a lot of precious seconds. While I applaud its out of the box ease of use (which does save time), if you plan to use it for a few years you better be willing to give up a good portion of your life to useless pretty screen transitions. I’ve been looking for a setting to turn off the transitions, but haven’t been able to find it yet.

To me, the best smartphone is the one that spends the least amount of time in your hands. You should be able to do whatever you have to do (check an email, send a text, listen to a song, find something on the web) as quickly as possible so you can then put the phone away and get back to your life. A good smartphone adds value to your life by putting a LOT of stuff at your fingertips – it shouldn’t become your life. This also puts the “Crack” in CrackBerry. The BlackBerry user experience is lightning quick, especially when it comes to text communication (checking and responding to emails, text messages, or IMs). I’ve been going back and forth between my Curve and the iPhone for the last couple of days, and no matter what I want do on the iPhone I can do it quicker on the Curve. And this isn’t because I am new to the iPhone and not familiar with its controls – I’m already very familiar with it. It’s simply slower because you have to follow the iPhone’s one way of getting things done and wait for the screen to screen transitions as you tap your way there. I find myself waiting for the iPhone all the time. I can simply tap way quicker than the OS will load screens.

A redeeming quality to the iPhone’s OS? All of the settings are in one place. With the BlackBerry OS, there are many settings in one place (under Options), but not all of them. You still find tons of settings within individual applications (mail app, phone app, messenger app, etc.). After now having used the iPhone for a bit, I’ve come to appreciate having every setting in one location. I think many of the questions we get in the CrackBerry forums would be eliminated if the BlackBerry OS took this approach. It makes it easy to find settings when you’re not exactly sure what you are looking for.

As I type this I just realized something. I haven’t been to the PhoneDifferent.com forums yet for help. With the Tilt and the Treo 680 I as at the WMExperts.com and TreoCentral.com forums right away looking for help. With the iPhone I really haven’t been in need of any. That’s a pretty big testament to just how good the out of the box experience is.

Bells and Whistles
The iPhone’s web browser is awesome (though for all it’s awesomeness, why don’t I see Flash support?). I’m envious of the fact the iPhone’s email app displays the CrackBerry.com Newsletter perfectly while the BlackBerry default email client completely butchers it (trying to figure out what to do here - we sent out both an html and text version of the Newsletter, but the BlackBerry pulls the html version (instead of the text one) and totally kills the html version). The iPhone does an amazing job of playing videos (YouTube app is solid) and I like the built in iPod. I’m also a big fan of the native weather app and alarm clock app – I could probably sit there and spin the minute dial for hours on end (simple things please simple minds). I think down the road there will be a lot of fun touchscreen games for the iPhone.

iPhone
The CrackBerry.com Newsletter looks a heck of a lot nicer when
viewed on the iPhone than with a BlackBerry. Get on it RIM!

iPhone
Coverflow is pretty cool. Talk about an eclectic taste in music...
Gordon Lightfoot rock'n the iPhone!

iPhone
Winnipeg has officially become Winterpeg

Shortcomings
A2DP - Where’s the A2DP? I cannot believe the iPhone, which features a fullout iPod, is not capable of streaming music to a stereo Bluetooth headset like my Motorola S9s! I refuse to use wires in a wireless age.

Email - I guess you can get push email via Yahoo, but I use Gmail. I’ve essentially gone from a guy who gets email to a guy who checks for email (the iPhone turns itself on every 15 minutes to check). It sucks. Apple seriously needs to make a push on addressing the email situation. Even if the iPhone is geared more toward consumer use vs. business use, I still think consumers shouldn’t have to wait to get email. It’s almost 2008!!!

Voice dialing - The iPhone isn’t a device you want to play around with in the car. That means it needs to have voice dialing. And it doesn’t. Boooourns!

Video Recording - I won’t harp on this too much, since it is just making its way to BlackBerrys, but for such a media/entertainment geared device I would think this would a be a priority.

No Removable Battery or Expandable Storage - The BlackBerry has amazing battery life, yet I still keep backup batteries just incase. Not an option with the iPhone and that sucks. Likewise, being limited to the built-in memory is not cool. Once you run outta room, you’re forced to delete vs. swap out media cards. I wouldn’t mind if it the BlackBerry came with 4gigs + of internal memory – I just would always like the option to be able to expand on it. 

Lack of Crack - As “cool” as the iPhone is, I’m finding it still lacks the “Crack” of a BlackBerry. I have to consciously reach for the iPhone. The BlackBerry, however, compels me to pick it up all day long. Maybe it’s the lack of blinking LED message notifier on the iPhone. Je ne sais pas. Vive le BlackBerry!

Win Full Touch, Lose No Touch, or Draw Hybrid?

In Mike’s review of the BlackBerry Curve, he basically called the BlackBerry the anti-iPhone. Where the BlackBerry sucks, the iPhone excels. Where the iPhone sucks, the BlackBerry excels. He pretty much nailed it right there. I think with time you’re going to see RIM steal some Apple designers and Apple steal some RIM engineers and in the end the consumer will win. As we near the end of the Round Robin, for myself personally I have already decided that No Touch or Full Touch is the way to go (for me at least). The philosophies are completely opposite, yet I think they both make for an ease of use that’s not found in hybrid phones like the Treo 680 or AT&T Tilt. When too many input options are offered to the user I think the experience gets botched.

A lot of rumors are surfacing that RIM is working on a touchscreen phone. If they are, I hope the touchscreen model they introduce is a full touchscreen consumer oriented model. That will force them to get the OS and user experience 100% right. I don’t think it’s possible to achieve that 100% on a hybrid phone. If RIM can copy some of what Apple has done on the iPhone and then add in the “Crack” (back button, LED notifier, BlackBerry Messenger!!), I think a BlackBerry touchscreen could be a pretty fun phone. After using the iPhone, I also know that RIM’s No Touch approach won’t be leaving the smartphone world anytime soon. It offers a one-handed user experience that just can’t be beat. It’s hard to describe. It takes a few days to get used to it, but after that every other phone just feels wrong.

I really give credit to Apple though. This is their first smartphone and it’s pretty darn good.

Stay Tuned
There’s still lots of iPhone talk to come... Final Impressions article should be up sometime Friday or Saturday, so stay tuned!

Topics: SPE Round Robin

Reader comments

Smartphone Round Robin: Apple iPhone First Impressions

40 Comments

This is a great review. I have had the chance to own an iphone for a few months (and really loved it, but missed BB Messenger, among things) and had blackberry prior and am now using the blackberry. I totally agree with the statement of iphone and rim developing blackberry connect for the iphone. I just thought to myself yesterday, that the perfect phone would be a combination of a blackberry and an iphone with a 5 MP camera.

My best friend has an iphone and i have a BB Curve 8320. We spend tons of time disputing who has the better device w/o ever really touching each others phone. After reading this review, i feel like i may know just as much about his iphone as he does. I am a first time BB owner and actually chose the Curve over the iphone after playing with both in the retail stores.

I will give RIM kudos for the updates to the software that are coming with v4.3. It gives the already powerful device even more functionality with features like voice record, document editing and video recording. Albeit a new "craze" with the iphone. The emergence of the Pearl and Curve have created an equal buzz as well. It will be interesting to see how these two developers change the mobile market.

Is it really coming out by the end of this year?

I can see by the theme on the curve on the first picture that the editor has the 4.3 theme loaded. is that a beta distro?

As a previous blackjack owner, I got a copy of the leaked buggy WM6 rom for it, installed it and waited days and days for the final version to arrive. The next thing I know blackjack 2 is out loaded with WM6 and no one ever talked about wm6 on blackjack 1 (aka i 607).

You did a great job reviewing the iPhone. I agree with all of your impressions. I was formerly a WM user then converted to the iPhone and now I just bought a Curve.

The biggest downside to the iPhone to me was the awkwardness of holding the device. I was constantly worried I was going to drop the device.

The biggest upside was the internet. The iPhone absolutely shines in this area. In my opinion it is by far the best smartphone on the market. (I do miss that)

As far as OSs go - I believe the scale lays out like this:

Functionality -------------------------------- Intuative

BlackBerry Windows Mobile iPhone

From an average/new user I think the iPhone would be the easiest to get use to and learn. However if you give the BB some time, you will discover just how great it is.

I think one of the most amazing things about the iPhone is the fact it is Apple's first crack at a smartphone. I believe it will serve as a benchmark for future phones including WM and BlackBerry. I look forward to the next generation devices.

Great Review. I have really enjoyed reading about the different smartphones from the eyes of a non-user. The comparisons with the user's OS have been great.

Great review as always. As a new crackberry user, it's nice to see that the things I value about it make the iphone unattractive to me. Even if the iphone is uber sexy :P

I think the iPhone has crowbarred itself into the hearts of consumers regardless of its shortcomings. It has the advantage of being a phone, so people can't actually live without it if they don't like it...well most people. I know the people here have no qualms about dropping 400 bucks on a piece of equipment no liking it and selling it on Ebay for a slight loss. It this thing wasn't your phone I think it would spend most of its time in your desks top drawer (remember the Newton? That went far).

But I look at this device as more of an email checker rather than emailer. It doesn't seem to lend itself to a hard core sort of user who is ready to live and die by their device. If Apple crams a better camera, revise the keyboard a bit and give 3rd party support I think it will definately find a market that it can rely on.

It is pretty much the PC or Mac question all over again. If you don't actually care how your device works and just want to be a user than you'll hit up the iPhone. If you actually want to be able to get to the nuts-and-bolts of your device you may lean more towards the Blackberry.

Excellent review, and very much in line with my brief experience with the iPhone. There is NO GREATER piece of eye candy in the tech world than an iPhone. I would kill for that screen on any handheld (for that matter, that resolution on a notebook screen would be unbelievable). As a media device, it is incomparable (do you think Gates and Ballmer wouldn't really rather carry an iPhone than a Zune?); but that's where I drew the line. In day to day use I kept flocking back to my Blackjack. Then our office standardized on Blackberry (Curve 8310) and for the first time I saw a converged device designed from the ground up for COMMUNICATION - voice, text and data. It made the myriad of Treo, smartphone and PPC devices I had tried (including the Tilt) feel like a PDA with a phone bolted on the side. Same for the iPhone - an iPod with a phone taped to the back.

That's the real experience in a nutshell.

Excellent review, and very much in line with my brief experience with the iPhone. There is NO GREATER piece of eye candy in the tech world than an iPhone. I would kill for that screen on any handheld (for that matter, that resolution on a notebook screen would be unbelievable). As a media device, it is incomparable (do you think Gates and Ballmer wouldn't really rather carry an iPhone than a Zune?); but that's where I drew the line. In day to day use I kept flocking back to my Blackjack. Then our office standardized on Blackberry (Curve 8310) and for the first time I saw a converged device designed from the ground up for COMMUNICATION - voice, text and data. It made the myriad of Treo, smartphone and PPC devices I had tried (including the Tilt) feel like a PDA with a phone bolted on the side. Same for the iPhone - an iPod with a phone taped to the back.

That's the real experience in a nutshell.

Nice review of the iPhone. Still makes me glad I bought my curve! Also, Curve with WiFi is awsome (T-Mobile). It would be interesting to do a round robin with maybe 10 users. I will volunteer!

I have had many smart phones throughout the years. My first was the Siemens SX 66 which could be either Full Touch or Hybrid with a slide out keyboard. I've had 4 Treo's that at first seemed great, but with each one, I realized that Windows Mobile was the only decent upgrade to the phone. When I got my first BB Curve, I fell in love. I now have the BB 8820 and have the most versatile two devices around, period. I have seriously contemplated buying an iPhone to use as a weekend phone, but after toying around with a friends, I've never been able to take the leap. I have to agree that there are many features of the iPhone that RIM should borrow (or steal). Once we get there, I'd be willing to bet that we won't need another Smartphone Round Robin to decide a winner!

I have owned many smartphone's throughout the years. My first was the Siemens SX 66 which could be operated as a Full Touch device or Hybrid device with a slide out keyboard. I then moved onto Palm, and owned 4 Treos. The first was a 650, then two 750's and the 680. I soon realized that the only innovation with Palm was Windows Mobile. I then purchased my first BB, the BB Curve, and fell in love. Nothing previous compared to it. I now have the Curve and the BB 8820, and I can honestly say that I have the most versatile devices on the market today. I have been seriously contemplating for quite some time about buying an iPhone for the weekends, but after toying around with a friend's, I just can't seem to take the plunge. I do agree that RIM should borrow (steal) some of the key features in the iPhone. We will then have the ultimate device, and you won't need to do another Smartphone Round Robin to decide a winner!

This was review I was waiting. iPhone from perspective of real Crackberry user...

I'm happy that you give fair opinion about everything. I see that I could use iPhone as my second cell phone. One thing that I couldnt live without it is A2DP!!!

Waiting your final impression...

PS -- And that you know I'm really jelious on your Curve with 4.3... :P

Well great write up on the iPhone. I can say the keyboard is what I was disappointed about the iPhone and one other issue, cannot send pics or videos via mms messages. Otherwise it is a cool idea for a phone. However, there is a reason I went with the bb curve! The keyboard is great, the ability to send mms messages and the push e-mail is what I like. Now I am open to see the 9xxx series phone with a full touch screen to see how it compares to the iPhone and hopefully RIM will have a much better implementation though.

Charlie

Thank you for debunkng the myth about the iphone and its window to the future. Though I am a palm man, I am watching blackberry make a move for the consumer market, one which will be paried with many new device advancements and program developments once the blackberry os loosens its collar. Wi-fi, safari, rotating screens... apple could do it because they develop their own hardware. ingenuitive interface... nothing new from apple. but creating a robust device for multiple markets and multiple users... not their cup of tea. At least people can put games on there (ipodtouchgames.com), but who knows what the next firmware will do.

Favorite devices Blackberry curve with wifi and gps, treo 650 (if only the wifi hack worked, instead reverse bt dun + 100+meter amplified bluetooth signal), cingular 8525, moto mpx300 (pro).

Nice review Kevin, as many this is truly the review I have been waiting on...my personal take on the iPhone at this point anyways, is that it really is a great device for the most part...looks it's damn sexy looking....media features it's got it all, iPod..killer web browser, youtube built right in (although I really do despise youtube and their poor video conversions), WiFi..excellent as stated hopefully RIM will make this a standard feature, while it lacks the video capabilities I get the feeling Apple may fix this later, but still I find the iPhone another in a long list of devices that are not comfortable "out of the box", it's another phone that you have to "hack" in order to get it right, where as I was totally happy with my Curve right out of the box, aside from the themes, I was happy with it right out of the box...now looking at the iPhone, the apps it comes with are great, but people thirst for more...more functionality, more options, the iPhone CAN offer this, but not because Apple allows you to do so, simply because iPhone hackers have freed the device from it's Apple chains, many people have set up their "web apps" for people to utilize while surfing the net, the Safari browser is awesome for this and the interface allows for some great interaction on those sites, but it's not the replacement for internal apps the Steve Jobs was hoping it would be, the SDK is coming, rumor has it,it's been released to a few "select" developers already and they have begun to work their magic...but "out of the box" the iPhone fails, users need to run the possibility of voiding their warranty or even worse "bricking" their iPhone by installing some 3rd party apps, or falling victim to a bad unlock, and I don't really like having to play a cat and mouse game with apple, ie...Kevins avoidance of updating to the new firmware...Touchscreen, I was NEVER a fan of touch screens, the iPhone did not change this outlook for me, especially after kevins review, it just proved my own person thoughts on the touchscreen...overall the iPhone is a nice looking device, has great capabilities for media, but seems as though theirs alot of room for improvements, which is normal, this is a new device, Apple has ventured into unknown territory at this point, and I really do think that the iPhone will move onward we will see many iterations of the iPhone, and each one will bring improvements, but as it stands right now, it's no BlackBerry...goes back to Dieters thoughts, Where the BlackBerry sucks, the iPhone excels. Where the iPhone sucks, the BlackBerry excels...they are not on the same playing field yet.

I never even thought of the whole extra battery vs. no removable battery aspect. I have extra batteries for my blackberry and it really stinks that you can't have a back-up for the iphone. I might of missed it in the review, but how long would it take to charge up the iphone if it was dead? Also if there was ever a problem with the iphone not functioning properly what would resolve this since you can't try a battery pull?

Is anybody else as surprised as I am that Kevin preferred this to the Treo? Great review though, it does make one yearn a little for that glorious screen.

I have contemplated on getting an iphone or just an I pod touch. While being a new crackberry addict it is still tempting to get an i phone also and if presented with the opportunity I might just grab one although I would dislike not having push email or gps.

I decided to get my Curve when I found this website after regretting a Blackjack purchase. Thank God for the 30 return policy. This review reminds me that I'm glad I didn't get the iphone. Yes it's cool, but I don't listen to music on my phone, I just don't. I used to have a RAZR with iTunes but I didn't really use my phone for that reason then so???

What the iphone does NOT have is tactile feedback when typing. I often type on my Curve while walking and so I'm not looking at the device 100% of the time. I have tried this with my friend's iphone. Without feeling the keys you don't know if they are pressed until you look at the screen. This is why people love the click of the qwerty keyboard and one of the reasons I love my Blackberry.

Thanks for a good review of the iphone, it was most helpful in many ways. It further confirmed to me that I had made the right choice of the 8300.

Kevin,

Curious what data plan you're using with the Rogers SIM in the iPhone? Every smartphone I've owned, I've disabled Data in mortal fear of Rogers' rates (the idea of slipping and hitting a YouTube button and getting a $1300 phone bill gives me nightmares no end).

for the Round Robin I just never changed my data plan at all... I'm still on my Rogers BIS plan... $60/month for 25 megs.

The iPhone tracks edge network data usage...i guess i've been using it for close to a week and right now it says 739kb sent and 5.6MBs received.

Thanks Kevin,

There are rumors on reflagdeals forums that people have gotten up to 1 GB for around $60 by claiming use as a laptop tether, but I'm still holding my breath and threatening blueness until we get fair data rates here. Hopefully Rogers will match what Bell and Telus are doing with the HTC/Pearl plans...

My friend has an iphone and i always like to mess around with it at school, it is kind of awkward to hold but the keyboard does work very well for touch. Still prefer BB curve keyboard (WHICH NEEDS TO GET TO VZW FOR THE LOVE OF GOD)

I think what the iPhone does is really solidify a new category of phone - multimedia phone. If we call it a smartphone, don't we also have to start including every phone that does music and photos? That's almost all of them these days. Lots of phones can sync contacts nowadays. Admitted, it's the ultimate multimedia phone for now, but it's so different from Palm OS, WM OS, and BB OS in terms of functionality that it's a forced comparison in my opinion.

Excellent review!
Your findings were very similar to mine. I have access to an iPhone and am actually in charge of keeping it up to date, synched, etc. I love my BB and it would be cool if the BB offered some of the same solutions that the iPhone provides but once again its all a matter of preference, what you can live with or what you cant live without! I for one dont want to have to be without my BB!!!
Awesome review!!

Wow, wonderful review. If I can now bring an iphone to verizon then i would do so as long as I'm fed up with the 8830 NOT having it's autonomous GPS enabled. Anyway, I heard from a friend with an iphone that it does not scratch. Wow, if I could have a BB that would NEVER scratch then I would choose it over an iphone any day, except for the fact the bb web browser and media manager could use a whole new make-over/upgrade. Thank you for the review and I hope to hear more about the awesomenes of the iphone and BB

Excellent review/sum up I think you got most of it.

Background on me is that my recent phones have been of the crack variety but I now own an iphone and a curve since the iphone came my curve is in the drawer :(

Some of your criticisms of the iphone are fixable especially with third party stuff:

The slippyness I agree with, but my BestSkinEver solves that as a side effect of its protection.

The 15 min email can be solved with a third party app that makes this time customizable (I believe down to seconds) which makes email instant.

Why have I chosen my iphone over my curve :-
*I think it looks much better I love the 'singlularity'
*I am not a heavy email/text user so have had no issues with the keyboard
*The multimedia aspect is unparalleled video, ipod and phone together cuts down on devices
*Safari on the go is awesome

For the average to business user I think the iphone nicks it on almost every aspect....a power user or crackberry addict obviously will stick.

What this does do is make evrything up for grabs, the iphone has flaws crack does not have but the berry falls down on most other aspects....so both with have to improve....so we all will win.

I genuinely did not want to love the iphone, I bought the curve instead of an iphone but ended up with both and the curve collecting some dust...but it was a fair fight which comes down the user.........we can look forward to a titanic power struggle where we all win on the gadget front.

I like the review, but we will never see a one in all device that covers everything. That would keep us from buying other gadgets. Another thought is how would we be rivals is we are all the same. Thanks again for the review, just think, If I wanted a iPhony I would not be on this site, and who wants to lose a user to that thing. Crack-On

My girl switched from a blackberry pearl to an iPhone, that touch screen is beautiful I must admit. She never really took time to get to know the pearl, her choice.
Me on the other hand don't see myself with a smartphone other than blackberry.

I definitely liked this review, I have enjoyed the round robin reviews and as to what Kevin said in the end, this is APPLE's first phone and we shall see how Ver.2 OS will come out from all the feed back I'm sure they have received. I have played with the iphone and it's a neat device but my preference still lies with my Blackberry, I guess it's the OS that I really appreciate.

Very informative review. As pretty as that iPhone looks, overall, I'm glad after my own several months of research that I decided to go with a Blackberry Curve instead. The cons of the iPhone outweighed the pros more than I expected. Long Live Blackberry!

Great Review!!! I had the Iphone for a month before getting the curve. Out of the box very easy, also web browsing was great & definitely cool. I returned it due to the fact that the touch screen numerous miscellaneous phone calls. But you nailed it in your review. Your smart phone is there to get the job done efficient and fast. Hands down nothing can compare to the blackberry. I understand the crack in crackberry, you can't live without it once you have one.

Kevin, I think your review hit the strong points about the iphone. It seems like the iphone, especially for a creative, "first-time" model, it seems impressive and "fun." But for those of us that need efficiency and speed, especially in regards to email, a BB is the best way to go.

I started out on Palm treo, then moved to windows mobile to blackberry then iphone and back to blackberry. I am excited to see what the Blackberry 9000 can do when it is released.
iphone is nothing to me until they open it up to 3rd party apps and add sync for notes, and todo. Oh yeah copy and paste would be useful don't you think.

Only thing I miss from Windows Mobile is the ability to download any file from the web and save it to device or card memory. Wish blackberry would allow all file types.. but understand it is more for security.

Just my 2 cents..

Great review.