Top 10 Reasons the iPhone is No BlackBerry

I don't know about you, but I'm sick and tired of hearing about the Apple iPhone.  iPhone-this and iPhone-that.  I can't even walk down the street or ride the train without seeing an iPhone in the hands of some bubbly college girl or Apple fanboy.  And all the tech sites, from Engadget to Gizmodo and everywhere between, are plastered with iPhone "news" each day.  Yuck.  Enough is enough.

I realize the iPhone is cool, okay?  So is my BlackBerry.  I'll even concede that what Apple did with the iPhone's touch screen is both remarkably innovative and revolutionary.  What I will NOT do is trade in my RIM device for one.  And I have ten solid reasons why not.  Check this out.

[ Note: A few, but not all, of these reasons may be addressed when the next generation iPhone is released in the coming months.  Still, Apple's no RIM, the iPhone's no BlackBerry, and that's not going to change anytime soon. ]

Top 10 Reasons Why the iPhone is No BlackBerry 

10. The iPhone's Not Designed for One-Handed Operation

The iPhone is lightweight and thin enough to fit into a pants pocket, but it's also fairly wide and long, which means that most users need one hand to hold the device and the other to type or navigate through applications or surf the Web.

I don’t know about you, but I'm often driving or taking notes when I'm using my phone, so two-handed operation is either dangerous, a big inconvenience or both.   Yeah, I realize driving while texting or Web surfing's never a good idea—in fact it's illegal in some locales.  I often use a Bluetooth headset that lets me dial preprogrammed numbers while driving, so I don't need to use my device's keyboard at all.  But sometimes I don't have the earpiece, and I'm grateful that I need only a single hand to dial a phone number or access my voice-activated Yahoo oneSearch app—which, I might add, is not available for the iPhone.

Try dialing a number with an iPhone in your left hand while steering with your right or typing in an address on that touch screen while jotting down notes. Not so much…And because the iPhone's Safari Web browser requires you to zoom in and out to view text and images on Web pages, you'll need both hands for that funky pinch in and out motion.   Not so with the BlackBerry Browser, which optimizes most pages for your device's screen and lets you scroll down by simply clicking your keyboard's space bar.

9. Every iPhone is Created Equally—At Least on the Outside

There's only one iPhone, no matter how many other handset makers unveil lookalikes, and I say that's a bad thing.  Sure, you can buy an iPhone with 16GB or 8GB of storage capacity but everything about those two devices will be exactly the same, except for the number of tunes you can squeeze in there and the tiny lettering on the rear side that indicates flash drive size.

A plethora of BlackBerry devices are available to you today.  If, for instance, you have small hands or require a tiny device for other reasons, you can pick up a BlackBerry Pearl or Curve instead of an 8700 or 8800 series handheld.  And then you can pick from the line of four available Pearl and Curve devices, the 8x00, 8x10, 8x20 and 8x30, depending on which feature set best fits your personal needs.  You can even select the color of the handset while iPhone users are stuck with that boring trash-can aluminum casing.

On that note, I appreciate the fact that even though I frequently see other BlackBerrys in the hands of my friends, coworkers and strangers, I rarely see my specific device.  I chose the gold Curve 8320 mostly because of its VoWi-Fi features, but I also knew that the Gold casing I selected is somewhat rare because it's a T-Mobile exclusive in the United States.  I've yet to see a single person on the street with the gold Curve, and something about that makes me love my device even more.

8. No Removable Battery, No Backup Power Supply for the iPhone

The Apple iPhone's Li-ion battery is built into the device and cannot be removed.  That's a serious bummer for anybody who uses their device as much as I do, or for folks who are frequently on the go.  Especially since the iPhone is "half-iPod," and is meant to be used as a media player.  Listening to music and watching video are a great way to plow through battery life, and the fact that the iPhone's battery can't be swapped out when drained plain old stinks.

You can pick up extra batteries for your BlackBerry for as little as $20 on, so you don't even need to shell out a lot of cash for back up.  And trust me, that $20 is worth every penny the first time you lose track of your battery status and see that amber-colored LED low-battery alert when you're expecting an important call.

Extended-capacity batteries from third-party manufacturers like Seidio are also available for BlackBerry devices, so you can even increase the life of your power supply.

If your iPhone craps out while you're away from a power outlet or don't have a charger handy, well, you're sh…simply out of luck.

7. The iPhone Has No Native Video Recording Capabilities

Currently, there's no way official way to record video clips using the iPhone's built-in camera.  One would think a device aimed specifically at consumers would include such functionality, but the iPhone does not.  On the other hand, RIM's most consumer-oriented devices, the BlackBerry Pearl handhelds, can all capture video clips—with the exception of the 8100.  And the much anticipated release of BlackBerry OS v4.5 will bring video recording to Curve devices, as well.

Supposedly there are a few "unofficial" applications available that can enable iPhone-video-capture, but that means tinkering with or unlocking the handheld.  That voids users' warranties and could potentially damage the device or give Apple warrant to disable it.  I don't know about you, but if I paid the ridiculous price Apple's charging for the iPhone—see reason number six--I'd be hesitant to take those chances.

6. The iPhone Is Too Darn Expensive

Though the price of the iPhone has gone down considerably since its release last June, the device is still way too pricey at $399 for the 8GB version and $499 for 16GB of storage.  (It's also worth noting that Apple "thanked" the first folks who purchased the device by dropping the price two months later. The company then tried to make up for the move by offering an Apple Store credit for half the amount of the price reduction. Dare I say RIM would never insult BlackBerry users like that?)

With the exception of the touch screen and the Safari browser, there's little the iPhone has that you can't get in a significantly less expensive BlackBerry or other smartphone.  And depending on how you use your device—if, for example, you type lots of messages—the iPhone's virtual keyboard can be a frustrating productivity-killer.  I'd even say that the Opera Mini browser is a very suitable alternative to Safari.

Today, a shiny new BlackBerry Pearl or Curve device goes for a fraction of the cost of an iPhone. You can, in fact, find BlackBerrys for free if you keep a sharp eye out—or visit frequently.  Even RIM's higher-end devices, like the 8820 and 8830, can be as much as $100 cheaper than the lowest-capacity iPhone.

5. The iPhone Doesn't Support VoWi-Fi—Even Though It Could and Should

The iPhone has Wi-Fi, but the fact that the device does not yet allow for Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWi-Fi), greatly reduces the value of the feature.

There are currently three BlackBerrys that offer VoWi-Fi: the Pearl 8120; Curve 8320; and the 8820 device.  These BlackBerrys are all available through multiple carriers, but the only ones that currently support VoWi-Fi in the United States are the ones sold through T-Mobile.  AT&T, the largest U.S. wireless provider by subscribers and the exclusive iPhone carrier, sells both the 8120 and the 8820, but it currently blocks VoWi-Fi for fear that the functionality will cut into its profits from data transmission. North of the Border, GSM-monopoly Rogers will soon be the only provider allowing Canadians to get their hands on the iPhone, but unlike AT&T, information suggests Rogers will soon be allowing their consumer customers to take advantages of VoWi-Fi with the addition of the BlackBerry Pearl 8120 to their device lineup and the introduction of the Rogers Home Calling Zone service.

It costs $10 extra on top of my T-Mobile bill for unlimited VoWi-Fi calling, and the feature is well worth the price because I don't have a landline phone and I'm constantly on my BlackBerry.

I've heard rumors that JAJAH, which makes VoIP applications, is working a native iPhone app to enable VoWi-Fi, and that Apple will not block the feature on a device level.  But it remains to be seen what role AT&T will play, especially since it has yet to enable VoWi-Fi on its compatible RIM devices.

Bottom line: I've been using VoWi-Fi via BlackBerry for months, while iPhone users are still unsure if or when the feature's coming to the Apple smartphone.

4. iPhone User?  No GPS for You

The iPhone does not have internal GPS.

Not every BlackBerry has it, either, but every single new model line from the 8100 series forward has at least one handheld with GPS.  For example, the Curve 8320 doesn't have internal navigation functionality, but its siblings--the 8310 and 8330--do.  The Pearl 8100 is GPS-less, but both the 8110 and 8130 also have it.  And all three 8800 series device have built-in GPS capabilities.  So if satellite navigation is of the essence, you've got a lot of options when it comes to BlackBerrys.

Sure, iPhone users can "virtual GPS" like Google's My Location service, but those, like the iPhone's virtual keyboard, just don't cut it. (See reason number two for more on the iPhone's keyboard.)  I'm also not a big fan of toting around external GPS pucks.

An increasing number of new mobile applications are offering some form or GPS-integration features.  BlackBerrys let you realize the full potential of such apps, but iPhone users have to make do without.

3. Want an iPhone?  Hope You're Ready to Switch Wireless Carriers…

In most major markets where the iPhone is sold, Apple has exclusive distribution agreements with local carriers. For instance, U.S. consumers must be AT&T customers if they want an iPhone. Folks in the U.K. who want iPhones must ink contracts with O2. Germans must sign with T-Mobile.  Orange in France, etc. (Again, there's always the option of unlocking the device so it will operate on other carriers' networks, but that can be asking for trouble, and it's something I do not recommend.)

On the other hand, you can purchase a number of BlackBerry devices through all the major U.S. carriers—in fact, BlackBerry smartphones are sold by the majority of leading wireless carriers through the world.  RIM even makes CDMA BlackBerry phones so Sprint and Verizon, the two U.S. carriers who don't operate GSM networks, can offer BlackBerrys to their customers.  Good luck getting an iPhone on the carrier network of your choice.

I'm not sure about you, but I want to be able to select both the device and the wireless carrier that best suit my personal needs, without tinkering with my handset and potentially voiding my warranty by unlocking it.

2. No Physical Keyboard?  No Thanks.

The BlackBerry became king of the smartphone space for a number of obvious reasons.  Its tried-and-true push e-mail system is the best in the biz, and that's huge. And despite a couple recent, highly-publicized outages, RIM has a very impressive record of service reliability.

I could go on, but for me, the feature that takes the cake is the full QWERTY keyboard found on many RIM devices.   I've become so adept at using my BlackBerry that I can type almost as fast on its keyboard as I can on my laptop—almost. The iPhone's touch-screen-based virtual keyboard just doesn't do it.  And, yes, I've spent enough time with the iPhone to get use to it.

Before any of you tell me I'm wrong, I'll say that I understand the whole virtual vs. physical keyboard thing is largely a preference issue.  But I firmly believe that the average person, iPhone experience or no, can type faster and more efficiently on a physical keyboard, mostly because virtual keyboards provide no tactile feedback.  That means you need to stare at the on-screen keys while you type, which takes your attention away from text in the message field.  BlackBerrys with full keyboards are simply better for rapid typing than iPhones, and nothing's going to change that--even if haptic technology finds its way into a future version of Apple's smartphone.  (Haptics would cause small vibrations when device keys are kit, in an attempt to provide that missing tactile feedback.)

1. The iPhone Third-Party Apps Debacle

Finally, the number one reason why the iPhone is no BlackBerry: Nearly a full year after Apple released the device in the United States, developers <em>still</em> cannot create and distribute third-party application that run natively on their devices. That means iPhone user have a very slim selection of applications they can download. And that's downright ridiculous after a year.  How "smart" is Apple's smartphone if it can't be used like any run-of-the-mill PC to add software?  I mean seriously…

Sure the iPhone SDK has been released, and there might be some great apps in the works, but in my opinion, that's too little, too late, as they say.

One of the best things about BlackBerrys is the ability to download third-party apps.  And there are LOTS of them: business-apps and games; free downloads and programs you've got to pay an arm and a leg for; everything in between.  Just search Google for "BlackBerry downloads" and there will be enough options to keep you entertained until your device is obsolete.  Or check out all the great software available in the CrackBerry shop.

There's also the little of issue of how much control Apple will hold over which apps can run on the iPhone and whether or not they'll be available through outlets other than the iTunes Store.  So far, it appears that Apple will have the final say over which programs it will allow to run natively on the device.  And the iTunes store will likely be the sole distribution channel—at least at first.

Oh yeah, the iPhone supposedly won't allow "multi-tasking" of native applications either, and that means as soon as you get a phone call or decided to surf the Web, you're IM app will instantly close, severing your chat connections.  And you know that cool branded Viigo RSS reader that updates itself?  There won't be any such thing on the iPhone, because it would have to run in the background while you employ you're device.  Thanks to Mr. Jobs, that probably won't be possible.

So those are the top 10 reasons why I won't be trading in my BlackBerry for an iPhone now or later this year when Apple's next-gen device hits stores.  What do you all think?   Did I miss a reason why your BlackBerry is better than the iPhone?

I'm all ears…