Round Robin: TiPb vs. BlackBerry Bold Final Review

[This is an official Smartphone Experts Round Robin post! Every day you reply here, you're automatically entered for a chance to win an iPhone 3G, Case-Mate Naked Case, and Motorola H9 Bluetooth Headset! Full contest rules here!]

Black and white. Night and day. Left and right. BlackBerry Bold and iPhone 3G. For the penultimate Round Robin, I set aside my multi-touch no Qwerty for Kevin's touch-less Cadillac of Querty's.

And...? I loved it and hated it. How utterly appropriate. Not to be too tale of two-cities about it, but it was both the best of the Round Robin devices for me and the worst. Google's Android G1 tried to do everything but beta'd all of it (give them time though!). The HTC Fuze tried to shellack over Windows Mobile to make it more like the iPhone and -- in terms of usability -- tripped and fell all over itself in the attempt. The Palm Treo Pro, while unabashedly Windows Mobile, was still a touch screen, allowing for some level of direct comparison, and proving just how far behind Windows Mobile's interface has fallen.

But the BlackBerry Bold is a different beast entirely. Direct comparison is impossible. A pager vs. a music player, all grown up and bedecked in smartphone tech. Both devices can do similar things, but their strengths are almost polar opposites, as are the approaches they take in delivering them.

Kevin's already written 7500 words on that, however, requiring few if any from me. So rather than rehash, or duplicate what the previous Round Robin editors have said better before me, I'm going to change it up a bit (yes, again) and look at things from a different perspective. And I'll do it after the break!


The BlackBerry Bold is the nicest hardware I've yet experienced in the Round Robin. The other devices were a little too plastic, a little too creaky. I think battery doors contribute to that since structural elements can no longer be braced to the back, not to mention hinges for the sliders. With the Bold, I expected something as good as the iPhone's singular slab of glass and metal and high-density backing.

I didn't quite get that, however. The Bold is lighter than I anticipated, and some of that lightness just made it feel a tad below the iPhone in build quality to me. That slight aside aside, the whole device speaks -- nay, screams -- luxury. The faux leather, the glossy back trimmed in sliver (yeah, RIM totally ripped the look off, but they did it because it works). It really is the executive smartphone.

And yeah, it's positively covered in buttons. Full Qwerty keyboard (though it misses some of the dedicated keys other devices had, like period, search, etc.), left and right (or plain and studded) convenience keys, green and red phone keys, BlackBerry (menu) and back (yes!) key, volume rocker and mute button. It's even got left and right fake buttons (okay, yeah, they're actually contact points, but they look like buttons which is a slight design failure).

For my tastes, there are actually too many buttons, and I found it too easy to hit them and thus, too easy to do things by accident. One of the convenience buttons defaults to voice control, and so I kept getting a very helpful lady asking to help me do what I didn't want to do, when I didn't want to do it. Thanks for that!

Also, while I'm no BlackBerry ninja, I couldn't find a way to quickly lock the device in the manner of the iPhone sleep/wake button. I could hold down the red phone button, but that seemed to actually turn the services off. Otherwise, the screen would turn off, but if I bumped the wrong button, it would wake up and start to do things as I was pocketing it (again, most often that helpful lady, this time from the rather intrusive confines of my pockets!)

Oh -- and it has a nice screen. Expecting me to gush? I would but after 4 other editors, what's left to say? The iPhone is 160dpi, the Bold is 217dpi or so.

A closer comparison, though, would be the Bold and the iPod "fatty" Nano of the previous generation which had a similar horizontal screen above the control area (substitute scroll wheel for Qwerty). Inarguably it's a gorgeous display with nary a jaggy in sight, however... it's too small for my tastes. I like the iPhone screen size. It's the 52" HD LCD to the Bold's 37". Unless you're in a cramped sliver of a condo, most people would prefer the physically bigger screen, and I find the same holds true on the mobile. Now, give me that 217dpi on a 3.5 in screen and we'd be talking (Touch HD, specifically).

The BlackBerry Life

I'm not reviewing the OS. It's a Java Micro Edition pseudo-OS and despite some limp signs of life in the last (and curiously first) BlackBerry developers conference, both its limitations and the API shenanigans engaged in by RIM (which makes Apple's SDK seem positively straightforward) make it exactly where Dieter pegged it to be: at its zenith much as Garnet was for the Palm Treo 650. It does what it can do, and as a platform I'm not sure it's capable of much more. RIM should be applauded, and should desperately be working on a next generation OS of their own deep beneath Waterloo way.

What I am reviewing is the BlackBerry lifestyle, which is what is required to use this device. It's not called push because it alerts you the moment data has been sent in your general direction, it's called push because it will shove you both in how you must work to make use of that data, and the hold that data begins to take on you.

I've joked about this before, but it really is preemptive and interruptive. PING! You've got mail. PING! You've got BlackBerry messenger. PING! You've got SMS/MMS (yup, it has MMS!). PING! You've got... on and on and on... If you have any heft to your contact list, and size to your mail pipe, that little blinking red light is going to start to pwn you. Kevin says it's compelling. It's the crack. It makes you not want to put it down, and if you have, to pick it back up again often and always.

And I'm not sure that's a Good Thing.

But back to that in a moment. More than just pushing your data, the BlackBerry records and pushes state on that data. If you're messaging, for example, not only are you alerted to it being sent, but to it being delivered, being read, and even when the other person is typing a response to it.

Some call this accountability. Your boss, your partner, your fellow communicator knows what you've seen and when you've seen it. And it scares the privacy out of me. Sure, it's not dissimilar to IM status in many applications, but then I heavily restrict my IM usage as well. It's like having that boss, partner, or fellow communicator staring over your shoulder 24/7. Frankly, it's creepy. Don't just get off my lawn, get out from over my shoulder!

Back to Ping Death. I have no attention span. Give me a distraction and I'll take it and ask for another. I need to focus in a world that does everything it can to split my focus. See, it's not that I don't understand the crack in Crackberry Kevin's metaphor. I understand it too well. And the last thing an addictive personality needs is another addiction.

Slice it this way: demanding attention is different than on-demand. In my day job, we have a term called "data explosion" where so much information comes at you so fast it becomes paralytic. The BlackBerry is a little like that. Kevin has said the BlackBerry is an on-the-go device and the iPhone is a stop-and-use device. I had the exact opposite experience.

With the iPhone, I listen to podcasts or audio books as I commute. I occasionally read the email previews when at traffic lights or when walking downtown. I glance at the SMS previews likewise. (I wish I could do likewise with iChats, but more on that next week). I can surf the web or play some casual game while I'm waiting in line. It fits into the broad or broken moments of my day.

The Bold breaks my day. If I have 3 people hitting me on BlackBerry Messenger all at once, I can't handle that exchange "on-the-go". I have to stop, parse each message, make sure I'm in the right place for each one, and respond appropriately. And the little red blinker makes certain I really want to jump in and engage with those 3 people post-haste -- even if I'm supposed to be finishing this review. The more important the person is to me, the more demanding. RIM really nailed the social aspect harder than even MySpace or Facebook, and perhaps rivaled only by always-on Twitter. Once you get a bunch of people all on BBM, it's like being at a really good party and the push notifications are like shots. You don't want to leave -- but eventually you'll collapse.

With the iPhone, I've turned on push but turned off notification. Everything is there and instantly available -- but on my terms, in my time. I am master of the machine, not slave to it.

On the BlackBerry I could do the same, but then I feel like I don't really have (or need) a BlackBerry any more. Oh, sure I can edit office docs, but I could do that on Windows Mobile (and too be honest, I bought a Windows Mobile device a couple years ago for that very reason and found it crippled and frustrating enough never to bother.)

So, take this as my stand against the culture of interuption, for which the BlackBerry could most easily be the poster child. This is why I mentioned at the beginning that the Blackberry is the non-iPhone I both loved and hated the most in the Round Robin. It's not just that I think the age of physical keyboards is over (the Storm -- which I'll get to in a follow up -- gives a keyboard-less BlackBerry option), it demands an entire shift in lifestyle. It just works, in all the triple-entendre'd terror that implies.


I won't lie. I'm going to miss the Bold, and the BBM, and the instant connection to all my friends and contacts. But at the same time I'm going to enjoy getting my life back. A good friend of mine who works in a super-critical position in a huge company is a BlackBerry user and as much as he loves it, he hates it with a breathing passion because he knows every call could be his boss asking why he hasn't done something about what the boss already knows he's seen, read, or otherwise been pushed. He's highly placed in this company, with exponentially more people beneath him than above, but we all know it's the bosses (or girl/boyfriend/spouses) call that comes most often, and with the biggest impact. I can understand why people are so passionate about the BlackBerry, but I can also understand why people sue for overtime when their companies "give" them BlackBerry's to use. Crackberry is a very apt nickname.

Apendix: Sleeping with the Frenemy

A few people I know duel-wield the iPhone and the BlackBerry. To get a sense of their "best of both worlds" approach, I spent a few days Bold-only as the Round Robin demands, and the weekend slinging one on each hip.

To first address something we get a lot of in the forums, the iPod touch/BlackBerry nirvana is an urban myth. Absent 3G and GPS you'll be missing out on one of the most exciting aspects of the iPhone: ubiquitous location-based services. The Bold has the same guts, but it's user experience for this technology just doesn't compare, while the iPod touch's WiFi restriction makes it unusable for large stretches. I had an iPod touch originally. It took me all of a week to give it away and get an iPhone.

Back to iPhone+Bold. It's an interesting approach but one I ultimately found would be too cumbersome and expensive. Since I won't switch SIMs every 2 minutes, I'd need 2 plans, one with BIS (which I won't rant on now, but which deserves it for being both powerful and punishing to consumers -- you shouldn't need anything other than a standard data plan to run a smartphone in 2008! Work that out RIM!). I'm also a Mac user, and while RIM is improving Mac support (and aren't anywhere near as negligent as Windows Mobile) it's nowhere near there yet. Since many Mac users are also CrackBerry addicts, and proven price-insensitives and brand-loyalists, ignoring them (us) is just bad business.

Bottom line, I don't have a handy bat-buckled utility belt, nor do I want to be perpetually clad in vests-of-many-pockets, so convergence devices are important to me. I would only ever carry one phone. In this world, it's the iPhone. In another world (where my lifespan would not doubt be shorter and my stress level way higher), it might just have been the Bold.


Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Round Robin: TiPb vs. BlackBerry Bold Final Review


Great review Rene!! I never knew that about the blackberry how over the shoulder it is. That is cool hearing that the bb can do that but I would never ever want that. But more importantly great review!

alright review. i love my bold and dont have the same complaints. seeing as thisz is the iphone blog, of course it will be bias and support the iphone over any other product.

@Rob, you sound upset that this review take a slanted viewpoint... that is the intent after all.
I am saddened that the Round Robin is now complete, next years should be interesting... New Palm OS, new Andriod phones, HTC is brewing some things, iPhone nano... Blackberry 8900.

Great review. I carried a BB Curve for a long time prior to getting my iPhone and I agree with a lot of what you said.

The phone looks beautiful and well made.
I am not so sure how I would feel about having other people know when I was reading their e mails or if I was tying a reply. I am trying to get more anonymity in my life not less. So this phone would be too intrusive for my kind of lifestyle.
Yes I am sure there are ways that I could turn off the alerts but I just dont feel like doing that much work.

I got to try to the Bold yesterday and I was really impressed. The first thing that gets you is really how nice and crisp the screen is. It really is that nice. The only thing that was annoying was that it still lacks a touchscreen. I wish I could have the best of both the iPhone and the Bold.

to quickly lock the Bold, assign (left)-side key to "Keyboard lock". This way you will have a one-click-Keyboard lock.
Pressing "K" on home screen works also, but only on the home screen.

Excellent review. It would be interesting to try the Bold. I recently had to set up a Blackberry Curve for one of my employees. It definitely reinforced my belief that the iPhone is the way to go.

gr8 review! i have both iphone and bb-world-phone. and liked the points hit on in this article.
just one point to add, blackberry ninjas usually change the 'voice conotrol' convenience key to 'screen lock' in the options menu.

Good review--and I'm a proud Bold owner. :) I liked the point-counterpoint of this article and Kevin's review of the iPhone. Both seemed fair and thoughtful.

Nice take, but a lot of your readers are really putting an emphasis on this "privacy" issue. And any bb user will tell you there is no PRIVACY issue. The only time people know what you are doing is BB Messenger, which is only if you are typing or not.
I think some of the iPhone Blog readers misunderstood this.
Also as for locking the phone, the above poster said assign the left convenience key.. all you do is hold the mute button on the top of the phone.
I loved the review overall though and it's clear that the iPhone and Blackberry requite a different user base.
Not as simple as iPhone = Consumer, BB = Business. But you drew the line pretty clearly Rene, I think it's interesting getting an avid iPhone user's opinion on the Bold though. Imagine we got all of the Crackberry readers, to trade with all the iPhone readers for a week.
That would be havoc.

Great review. As a Mac user I feel your pain but have been quite happy with Missing Sync's solution. While I would love the compatibility and large screen of the iPhone, I just can't give up the keyboard on my Curve!

very detailed. I can appreciate your opinion, but I really like to feel connected. I feel I can do so better with a BB (I'm a Storm owner)...I also feel like I can respond quicker w/ my BB.

Could have also used the standby button on the top of the phone to lock it. Then just have to press one button (standby again) to unlock it.

Great review Rene, your write up was very insightful and eloquent. For all those reasons, and more, I am an iPhone user. I love my iPhone, but I also like the ability to put it down.
However, I will say this, the Bold is a beautiful piece of hardware.

I am here in Florida and my dad just bit the bullet and converted to the iphone 3g. He was forwarding his previous sprint phone to his work blackberry. Now he carries both during the week and the iphone by itself on the weekends. I have a touch now and considering an iphone.

Great review. I had a chance to play around with a bold a couple of weeks ago, & even though I love the iPhone, the absolute beauty of the bold's screen cannot be over-stated. It is gorgeous. Also, the speaker quality is superior to the iPhone's. All that being said, I like the multi-media capabilities and touch interface of the iPhone over all those buttons. However, if corporate e-mail were critical for me, I'd get a bold in a heartbeat.

Nice review. As a user of both devices at different time's though, it sounds rather apologetic. I would argue that a smart device should give as much or as little information as possible. The fact that the iphone's alert deprivation works for the reviewer is all great but for many other people it simply no enough. Having the choice of how many alerts you would like is the point. On the bold, you can turn alerts off, on the iphone you don’t even get a choice.

Great Review! Very impressed with the direction that you took... Its apparent that the Bold is a very nice device. I just cant sacrifice the ease of use and the things I can do with my Mac and the iphone that I could never do on the outdated blackberry os platform. Also, I have to have the big screen, would be nice to get some Bold resolution on the iphone though,

Great Review, I'm a Dual Phone yielding Crack Berry Addict with a Black Berry Curve 8330 and a HTC Touch ( Windows Mobile) I want to replace the Touch with a Black berry Storm in the new year. anyway back to my comments on the Review.
At first I was overwhelmed with the PUSH of the Black Berry, BUT once you have the Proper Case ( Otter Box for me) and have set it up for your needs, a few of the complaints from the review are nullified, my only Notification of transactions are Vibrate and Red light, I can turn the Vibrate off, and only the Red light blinks, in my Otter Box, that is even hard to see.
Though the Otter Box takes the "executive" look away and gives it a look for someone who USES the phone every minute.
To Lock the Device quickly you can change the Voice Dialing button to be the Keyboard Lock Button, and now you don't get the friendly helper talking to you, and you have The fasted Lock button available in the round up.
I'm sure the iPhone has some user changeable features that other reviewers put down, I just wanted to bring to front the Black Berry Changes.
and say Well done, well written.
side note the iPhone intrigues me, and if it was not for the fact I would need iTunes I probably would get an iPhone.

Good review. I'll be interested to read your comments on the Storm, me being a happy Storm owner for over a month. So will Apple counter this with a third gen iPhone that I'd want to buy (replaceable battery would be a start, I'm a little bit cheesed with my 1G iPod Nano lol). Anyway, the iPhone and Bold (storm too) are for different market sectors IMHO. Vive la difference.

FYI - my wife has an iPhone and I have a Bold. To be fair, the photos above do not accurately compare the two phones.
For example, Google Maps on the iPhone is compared to BlackBerry Maps. Google Maps is also available for the Bold, and it looks identical to the iPhone's version - it even has Street View.
Similarly, the iPhone Settings screen is compared to the Bold's Wireless Setup screen. The BlackBerry Options screen is comparable to the iPhone Settings screen.
Similarly, the Bold has a dedicated Bookmarks screen, just like the iPhone, but the picture above shows the most-recently-visited sites screen for the Bold, not the Bookmarks screen.
I can understand that the author only had a limited time to review the Bold, but I have had my Bold for 12 days now, and I really, really like it. I am a keyboard man, and my clunky fingers don't work on the iPhone very well - I considered the iPhone, and spent a weekend with my wife's iPhone before deciding against it.
Also, I am a corporate drone, and I live in Outlook at work and I use Office apps all day - syncing my contacts/meetings/tasks with Outlook and using Office documents, like Word, Excel, PP, is essential. Why Apple did not include Office and syncing is beyond me.
Oh, sure, you can sync with iTunes on an iPhone, but guess what? iTunes is strictly forbidden at our company and many companies, I am told. It is not secure, and considered a rogue application, and flagged by our corporate watchdog application for deletion. So there is no sync for iPhone.
That is no problem for my wife, who loves her iPhone, and never syncs with her Mac, ever.

Excellent review. It was interesting to see your take on the BlackBerry life and how you turned it into something completely negative. I suppose there really are two sides to every story.
All I know is that my Bold smokes my boyfriend's iPhone 3G when we do browser races.

Decisions...Decisions...I could go for either one. The iPhone is very tempting, but I have used Blackberry for so long. Switching to AT&T is my issue, though. Not ready for that.

I wish a hybrid of the two would be created. I prefer the iPhone for games, Internet browsing (Safari), and general entertainment uses. I much prefer a BlackBerry for email, SMS, etc or business uses. Basically I can communicate better with the BB and its keyboard.

The only good thing I have to say about this phone is the back. I wish Apple would lose the glossy finish and do something similar, so I could toss my case.

Not a bad review. What I would expect. A rather pseudo intellectual mostly hollow try.
But good for a speed read.

It's a matter of function. If you need an iPod, then the iPhone is great. If you need a smart phone, then Bold all the way!!!!!

clearly we can see... it's all about experience.. .even if you don't change to Blackberry, you have a great experience and now you know that iphone is not the only one in the market.
Next time, compare the iphone with the blackberry storm and talke apart the life style because i fell that it was a tangent in your review to avoid talking about the device.

on the at&t bold to get the keypad lock, just hold down the "*" key and the review was great, i've tried both iphones (2g & 3g) and i couldn't live without a keyboard ! Comparing devices curve = iphone 1st gen, bold = iphone 3g....

Although you cite the lack of location-awareness with the BB plus iTouch combo... I wonder if it would be any better with an iPod Touch + WM device running WMWifiRouter...

Awesome review Rene, a great perspective of the device and out of all the editors (No offense guys and gal), this was the one that I felt really looked at the device from the user stand point.
I did want to point one thing out as you and I have similar concerns in this area..
"not only are you alerted to it being sent, but to it being delivered, being read, and even when the other person is typing a response to it."
Provided you are only using a BIS accnt, you can control most of these things, read reciepts, confirm delivery, etc..etc.BBM cannot be controlled to that extent but that's about it.
Now, had you been on a BES for would be somewhat at the mercy of the BES admin in enabling/disabling some of these things.

@Bill Andrews:
I don't need an iPod and never even use it. I am, however, a business owner and have all of the corporate email and business functionality needed in the iPhone.
BlackBerrys are simply old, cumbersome, and outdated.

you also forgot one thing about the Blackberry OS, it's designed for enhance the web experience so you can read mails, surf the web reducing the data transfer. In other words you can get more data with the same plan and also you have more battery...

Er...can be controlled when using BIS...NOT controlled using BES, this is what I get for responding while @ work :P

PS: Rene, iPhone plans are "specific" too if you go the legit way abt that out Apple :P

Great review, gave me insight into many things I did not know about BB. However I would love to be able to try out the bold for awhile, and still be able to keep my Iphone (to expensive to do both). As far as the OS on the BB go it does seem to be outdated and in need of major upgrading.

Thanks for the informative review. I recently bought my first smartphone - I waited the Bold - but really thought about getting an iPhone. The final decision came down to the ability to sync with my Outlook calendar and the full QWERTY keyboard. Three weeks later and I am still thrilled with my Bold; many of the issues mentioned in the review can be solved by changing default settings or adding software - and I'm quite happy with my ability to customize the Bold to my needs. That said, I can certainly see why some folks carry a BB and an iPhone - the best of both worlds!

Didn't think I would want the BOLD but with each Round Robin Review my appetite for a new Blackberry increases.
Love the reviews and now I want the BOLD.

Nice review Rene! I like to see honest reviews on this kind of stuff. I'm a blackberry user myself but I did own a 1st gen iphone and a white iPhone 3G, which I eventually ended up selling after a lot of consideration. I just couldn't put down a Blackberry, even as much as I wanted to.

google maps vs bb maps in that one picture? hmmm... shouldn't it be more like google maps vs google maps? bb maps is just another option, though mostly obsolete now.

The problem of incompatible data plans and needing different SIMs (account provisioning) to switch phones looks very much like service provider greed. There seems to be no rational (technical) reason why a Blackberry should require a different account type because the phone's identity for specific RIM features is built-in as IMEI and PIN, and all the other settings are held in software. However, this is a commercial world and there is no way iPhone home-users would accept the charges demanded from business users (and grudgingly accepted because Blackberry brings corresponding extra benefits to many business users).

Good review and perspective. Blackberry and iPhone both have different strengths and weaknesses. As they continue to compete they will develop their strengths and eliminate their weaknesses. Blackberry media & browsing has improved greatly (itunes sync was a pleasant surprise), and the iPhone will soon have proper push notifications (that you can turn off like the Blackberry) and may even cut & paste one day. The competition makes both of them better, and I'm looking forward to the next round of improvements.

If it should be Google Maps vs. Google Maps, then RIM should have developed a Google Maps client and made that the default app baked onto the device the way Apple did with the iPhone.
To a new user on each platform, that is the first (and for some, thus only) Map experience, so it's a totally fair comparison. Same for Stocks, Weather, etc.
Apple obviously cares more about the UI experience than RIM, while RIM obviously cares more about the messaging experience than Apple.
Both devices benefit and suffer from the choices of their designers.

@Bla1ze: Valid point, and I guess that varies by carrier. I'm on Rogers with a $30/6GB data plan and it worked fine on every device in the Round Robin except the BlackBerry, which required a BIS plan.
Other carriers and plans will, of course, vary. However, RIM has the power to stand up to the carriers as well and I hope they do. I don't need to see that many Rogers logos when I boot up a phone! I certainly don't see any ISP logos when I boot up my PC! :)

I will post a coda about the iPhone vs. Storm, but don't hold to hope: While my experience wasn't terrible, it wasn't great. and Boy Genius have both shown the problems with the current generation Storm.

In all fairness, the iPhone hasn't been around nearly as long, and Apple has far more on it's plate than RIM does. I'm sure we all agree that the amount of innovation that went into the first iPhone was amazing. However, if the next iPhone doesn't address some or all of the missing messaging functions, then I'll totally agree that it's being neglected.

From what I've seen so far of the Bold I really want to give it a spin...
Having never been a Blackberry user its always interesting to hear about these "crackberry" elements and its even more interesting hearing how non-Blackberry users react to them. Good review Rene!

I am a Blackberry user and I work in a pretty stressful job, we all have Blackberrys. And we're slowly upgrading to Bolds. I appreciate that they were honest and open minded on the reviews. I have used the iphone 3g, but it wasn't for me. Granted, I used it when the phone first came out, when it was notoriously buggy and just all around terrible. It seems that it has finally come into its own and is a great phone, it just isn't the best business device. Perhaps with the advances through the app store and updates, it may turn into a more powerful productivity device.

I had a BB pearl before the IPhone. I am also a Mac user. I was very disappointed by the Lack of support for Mac. finally the IPhone came out, I couldn't have been happier to give my BB away, and pay $600.00 for it! For me it is all about syncing information from my phone to my computer and vise versa.
The fact that someone can tell when you have read their message is creepy. sometimes less is more.

Great review, as a storm user with 18 days left of test driving Verizon wireless, I went to AT&T after reading this, unfortunately the Bold at the store had a drained battery. Oh well, their loss.

2 things....
You CAN lock the phone easily
--Turn off "dialing from the home screen"
--Then you can just tap "k" and it will lock the phone
The side convenience keys can be changed
--you complained about hitting the voice dialing key, well, you can change that key to be blank if you want.
Otherwise good review, the iphone is cool, but the BB just gets things done quicker IMO.

Very nice review and very on point. If I were to get a BB it would definately be the Bold.
@Rene I think Apple will address the messaging and many other app issues as some of them do affect the user experience even if indirectly It's just a matter of working them into the UI so it remains clean and uncomplicated.

Actually you don't have to waste a convenience key on the "lock" command. I've got my Bold set up so that when you hold the [a] key at the home screen it will lock the system.
I do agree with the "crack" part of my blackberry though. I can't stop checking to see the red LED flash signifying a new message. It's a choice though; I could just as easily turn it off in the settings menu and adjust the sounds/vibration so it doesn't interrupt any other applications. I think the whole section on Blackberry Life is a moot point. Especially the part about how others can see if you've viewed their mail/messages (it was covered in previous comments).
To make a quick point on the iPhone though, if the iPhone or the iPod didn't make me use iTunes, I would have been on this Mac bandwagon a long time ago because their products are genius.

I think the iPhone has been a very positive influence on the industry as a whole and has driven competition to do "bold" new and exciting things.

pretty good review. I checked out a bold again today and couldn't get it to 'creek' for nothing. What are you doing to these phones? twisting them in half?
I thought it perfectly in my hand, not too wide at all. My girlfriend did say it was too small for her hands though, hmm...

Rene, thanks for exposing the nirvana of ipod touch + blackberry to be an urban legend! I confess I was totally on that bandwagon, so you saved me alot of money with your wise counsel.

Interesting comments. When I first began as a BB user, I was hooked on that always on always accessible feel. After awhile though, I began to feel like I was no longer in control of my time or attention.
I learned to adjust the notification settings, and now, I enjoy the same feeling of connectedness without being at the mercy of my phone.
I don't think that I would ever want to give up the push email experience or multitasking that I get on the BB. The way that BB implements these features makes me more productive and adds at least an extra 15 minutes to each day.

It's funny how all the things you disliked are capable of being personalized, but you don't want to do that much work! I guess its Iphones if you want it done for you, or BB's if you want to set it up the way you want it? Another week or so and you would have had that thing set up perfect, just the way you want it. And the whole screen size issue, its like buying a tv at best buy. You want as big as you can get, then when you get it home, the 500 bucks you dropped for 2 more inches doesnt make a bit of difference unless yours is bigger than your neighbors. Ha ha.
Iphones for trendy girls,
BlackBerry Bolds for Men in Business!

Well guess theres 2 sides of the story. As long as you just use it on a BIS its a normal phone with some nice extras. I miss my bold, coz I switched over to a storm :-/

well.. The thing is I have a blackberry and I used a iPhone for about 1.5 years.
I liked the iPhone but the blackberry fills in the problems for me.
I use it for personal life not business life so most of the things don't effect me in your hate side because the people who are contacting me I want to contact me ;)
Great review

I haven't read all of the comments, but I have to disagree with a few of them. Being an iPhone site, I was expecting to see a bias review. The review I read didn't seem to be bias at all. While he glossed over some of the best features of the blackberries, he did mention that other reviewers had written about them extensively. He also acknowledged that they existed. He also pointed out some of the shortcomings of blackberries and the way they operate.
Some of the shortcomings can be overcome with the settings, others are with you whether you want them or not. If you have been given this device by your boss, and your boss knows how to use these functions, he/she will be able to tell the instant you read a message from him and, if your boss is one of those types, the clock will start counting on your actions.
Putting all faux bias aside (I am a dedicated blackberry user) I thought he summed up the similarities and differences between the two devices quite nicely: smaller but beautiful screen, more buttons than anything but a computer, push (almost instant) notification of all information, potential privacy leaks, incredible battery power, movies on an overly small screen, fantastic sounding music with an adequate music player, and enough customization that sometimes you just decide to learn to do things the phone's way instead of tweaking all the settings to make it your way.
The Blackberry and iPhone are both excellent devices, each with their own uses and "lifestyle". To me, the advantages of the Blackberry outweigh the disadvantages for what I need a smartphone to do. I fully expect other people, with different needs, to find the iPhone more compelling.
I was linked to this review from, and didn't know what to expect. After reading it, if I have questions about a potential iPhone purchase in the future, I know I will come back to read an unbiased, informed review of the products that will help me make better decisions on how to spend my money.
Very nice work.

Nice review, except you glossed over the the most important point. I love the iPhone/touch (I own a touch) but if you are a business user with lots of emailing required, the iphone is simply a non-starter. The touch screen keyboard simply blows for high volume useage. other multi-media apps rock though.

I like the interesting perspective of the review. I can see how the "personal" side of things can be looked at. Seems like a lot of the intrusion feeling was based more on Blackberry Messenger than on all messaging (people can't tell when you've received SMS, or if you are replying to SMS - you can turn off delivery and read notifications for e-mail).
Using a Blackberry is definitely a different way of life to using an iPhone. I think the review did a good job of showing the differences.

Disagree for me. I love the iPhone keyboard. I had a Treo 680 before (and 600 before that!) and hated those hard little keyboards so much I stopped using them as much as possible. With the iPhone it took me a day to become far happier and more productive than I ever was on the had keyboard.
The Bold has a better keyboard than the old Treo in my opinion, but it was still too much work and stress on my forearm muscles to type (note: I've had tons of arm/joint injuries). Repetitive stress is much higher on the hard keyboard.
So I think it will depend on the individual user more than the device. Lucky there are now options for people to choose between.

If I wanted to be a tweaker, I think I'd stick with Windows Mobile rather than BlackBerry, as I have a feeling devoting that much time an energy to a device could make WinMo into a Star Trek gadget.
Again, I focused on out-of-the-box n00b experience, 'cause that's what I am. You have Kevin, Bla1ze, Craig and all the ninjas at CrackBerry for the expert views. How boring if I just did a (really poor) imitation of them.

WOW! Really wasnt expecting that type of review. But it was a good review, I actually read al of it. I get a lil bogged down in the tecnical side of things so this review was quite refreashing and a very good read.
I dont agree with a good part of it though. If you dont want yur boss creeping ovr yur shoulder - turn off the notifications - or dont get a "work" phone. If its given 2 you by work - well then thats just life - u work for THEM so if they want u on a BB then guess what? Your gonna b on a BB.
And as was mentioned b4 u can use 1 of 3 possible keys 2 lock the phone - so again theres another complaint rectified. As for the "small" screen? Well lets not 4get this is a smart"phone". If I wanted a giant screen I cldnt fit in my pocket I'd get a psp.
I bought my Pearl (yes its not a Bold, but whatever) cause its small and packs all this stuff into that small package. I looked @ the Bold but decided that it was too wide. Once Telus releases the new Curve 8900 it'll b in my front pocket instead of my Pearl or the Bold or the iphone. If you liked the Bold's screen, wait till ya see the 8900's. Its a tad smaller than the Bold - therfore has a greater pixel density for an even better lookin screen!!!!
But overall I really enjoyed reading this review and wldn't even mind winning that iphone from ya! lol

The Bold and the iPhone are the two best smartphones out there, but they each meet a different set of needs. With a Blackberry, I reach for it when I want to communicate with someone, where as I reach for the iPhone when I want to be entertained.

Comment #99. Stuck in the airport watching another flight cancelled... the iPhone's entertainment value would sure be appreciated!

You more than any of the others in this round robin seem most intent on NOT using the devices and just towing the Apple FanBoi line.
You haven't really discussed using the device, you just make vague statements about lifestyle (Apple). You've got one of the best messaging devices ever made, then you complain about it's messaging ability? Really? Did you try looking at a menu or settings? Did you try loading any apps? Did you try loading any media? WHAT WERE YOUR EXPERIENCES?
You know, it's this smug Apple "out of the box" mentality that keeps me from using the iPhone. I like being able to change more than just a wallpaper. I like being able to swap my own battery (case flex on a Bold, gimme a break). I like being able to upgrade my own storage without buying a new phone. I like having a hardware keyboard (age of hardware is over, just as soon as all these dumb phones go qwerty instead of touchscreen).
I was hoping for at least a little analysis. Instead all I got was "it dudn't wurk teh same az duh ayefone, so iz not gud". You didn't bother to do anything with it. Just opened the box, turned it on, and kind of blindly poked a finger at it.
Oh wait.
I guess by Apple standards you did use it...

@ Rene
Sorry dude, i would hardly call you a noob! It sounds to me like you are just using that as an excuse. I did like your review, you were honest, but you are not the Granny at verizon getting talked into this phone. You got a pretty good idea how they work, i would guess. And really, which winmob device would you take over a Bold? Overall though, it was a great review for all the Ismudge fanboys that want reassured that form really is better than function in a communication tool. Ha ha, the crackberry ninjas have struck!
Iphones 4 Image!
Bolds 4 Business!

someaudioguy, ha ha, Now that is how you call someone out! Very well put and excellent points! And if touchscreen typing is so great, why am i sitting here typing on a physical qwerty keyboard at home where space, power and cost dont matter all that much? Im guessing beacuase physical keyboards are just better.

Rene, this is tremendous and on point. For the record, I'm a corporate Blackberry user. I carry it because my job demands it. Without that, I wouldn't want one. If I no longer needed to work, I think the iPhone 3G would be my phone. As a result, if I had to check e-mail myself (no notification) I'd do one of two things (a) never check it or (b) check it manually constantly. Instead the Blackberry gives me the blinking red light that lets me know when I may have work to do. That's better than option (a) or (b).
So here's the wrinkle on what you and Kevin have explained. The Blackberry is very much the phone for someone like me who is "connected" by requirement, not choice. Ignoring the red light isn't an option I have if I want to stay employed. I think the iPhone is the right phone for someone who wants to be "connected" when they want, on their own terms.
Is the Blackberry flavor scary and overreaching...yes it is. As I sit at home watching a movie with my wife, the Blackberry on the arm of my chair, I wish I didn't have it. I don't want to connected that way, and like many of my colleagues, I was reluctant to get one. I do now appreciate that it (the Bold) can now provide pleasant distractions (as the iPhone does so well), while I wait for the unpleasant distractions.

Review was good thanks.
Everyone keeps pointing out ways to make the Bold go to standby/lock keys and I believe they have all neglected to tell you the easiest way. Instead of locking the keyboard (by wasting a convenience key or pressing K), I would prefer to put it in Standby mode. This lock even the popup asking you to unlock the device. This is easily done by holding down the Mute key on top of the device for a couple seconds. Press it again to bring it out of standby. Very useful. And yes, all the pings and red lights still alert you when in standby.

"and too be honest"
I can not read something written by someone who does not know the difference between "to" and "too" seriously.
Go back to elementary school, kid.

As a graphic designer who dislikes Mac computers, BlackBerry Bold fits perfectly to me. It isnt about discouraging people who likes Iphone, because despite the fact I don´t want one for its several flaws here in Mexico(like the most expensive smartphone for example), i do believe it has this appealing style that anyone who meets mac for the first time gets. I did once too, however, I prefer having control over my devices, specially when it comes to customizing every feature in them. That's why I prefer BlackBerries. Every aspect of them can be customized. Bold is perfect for me because for less than an Iphone cost i get all the features I want. My bold has a 16 gb micro sd card, so i can watch movies in its gorgeous screen, record my videos, and it has become my media player of choice. I prefer Winamp over iTunes too, so even when i can syncronize my bold with this media player,it's not that important to me. The fact I got all this social media messengers for free like Windows live messenger (which i use a lot) keeps me well communicated with my friends. As for the constant pushing of information... i can easily define whether i want notifications or not, and is quite easy.
I think this is actually a quite cool review, because it shows the user experience with a Bold, for me it hasn't been that painful, and at least in Mexico, if i have to write about an annoying lifestyle, it would be the iPhone one. No offense, but people here gets so annoying when they get iphones. BlackBerry is still less known in a mainstream way, so i prefer them.
About the screen's photos, its hard to capture the subtle yet important differences. If u havent seen a Bold screen playing Speed Racer's trailers, well..u guys should do so.

Nice review, very informative and fair which is nice. The Bold's screen is so darn nice, it's hard to find too many faults - but I agree with the annoyances with its constant interruptions. It does feel like it begins to control you after a while instead of the other way around.

I've used Treo and WiMo before, and for long periods of time. This was my first BBerry, though, so I was very much a n00b (albeit with frenemies like to fall back on).
I wouldn't take any WinMo device currently over the Bold for the very reason I mentioned: I have no interest in spending that much time customizing my experience on a mobile phone/device. And I'll take a few smudges any day over the aging and antiquated user experiences the competition keep serving up to their battered user bases :)

"@Bla1ze: Valid point, and I guess that varies by carrier. I’m on Rogers with a $30/6GB data plan and it worked fine on every device in the Round Robin except the BlackBerry, which required a BIS plan."
Yup, couldn't agree's the funny part I have the EXACT same plan (price and quantity of data), makes me wonder if it would work on an iPhone and just not vice versa. See what you have done to me Rene?, asking you iPhone questions, looking for iPhone info haha, next I'll be asking my Rogers dealer "How much is this no contract?" :P

Hopefully the initial frustration with my response will illicit a tiny bit of reflection :)
You more than any of the others in this comment thread seem most intent on NOT reading the review and just towing the RIM FanBoi line.
You haven't really discussed the review, you just make vague statements about focus (not on speeds and feeds). You've got one of the best comment systems ever made, then you complain about the comments made in the review? Really? Did you try reading it first? Did you try understanding the context? Did you try seeing things from another point of view? WHAT DID YOU POST FOR?
You know, it's this smug RIM "out of touch" mentality that keeps me from reading some of the comments. I like being able to hear different opinions. I like being able to swap views and experiences.. I like being able to see where different people are coming from. I like having the choice between hardware keyboards and touch screen devices..
I was hoping for at least a little analysis. Instead all I got was "i dudn't likz teh review az duh bberryz, my fav". You didn't bother to even read or consider an alternate point of view. Just opened the comment box, started typing, and made with the fanboy fury.
Oh wait.
I guess by fanboy standards you did comment..."

"And I’ll take a few smudges any day over the aging and antiquated user experiences the competition keep serving up to their battered user bases"
I enjoyed that! Brilliant! :lol:

This was a great review. Very clarifying about the type of user BB's are made for, which I'm realizing with using the Curve, I am not. Hopefully I'll get an iPhone in the new year!

@ Rene:
If you want, i will send you an mms showing you how to change your battery or add memory to you smudge bar. Oh wait, you cant get mms messages. Maybe when they come out with an app for that you can buy it and get back to me, till then, remember, my antiquated BOLD has unlimited amounts of memory and the batterys will last forever. he he

I think Rene is a little upset at all the Iphoney bashing here on the fanboi website. Ha ha
Dont sweat it Rene, maybe Santa will bring you a Bold for christmas!

Sweet! I can send you a modern OS, proper UI, accurate CSS rendering, an actual JavaScript engine, and the ability to install applications on all that expandable memory and not just the tiny, tiny slice RIM currently allows.
Secret Santa is fun! :)
(And no, bash all you want, it's good for traffic, truth is if BlackBerry even made a phone I liked better, I'd switch just like I did from the Treo 680 to the iPhone).

Ok, OK! We'll leave it at that! It's been fun and one good thing did come out of it. I did bookmark the iphone blog! It is a great place to learn how to unsmudge your smudge bar. I will be sure and refer all of my co-workers daughters to this site when they cant find where they put their New Kids on the Block album amidst all of that memory. And honestly, i too would have an Iphone if communicating wasn't key to my business. Seriously, Iphones are great and they have made tremendous strides forward in technology and user interface scenarios. After all, I love my pod, and im sure if i had an iphone i would love that too. So Rene, does multiple posts enter me in the giveaway more than once? I sure hope so, cuz i want a mapple more than Lisa Simspon did, only i wouldnt run up an i tunes bill quite that high. What a great episode, haha!
Have fun and keep up the good work!
Merry Christmas!

Great review. Have been going through phones over the last month. Returned the HTC Touch Pro, HTC Fuze, and currently "evaluating" the Bold. The Bold looks like a keeper, but would love to get an I Phone to evaluate.

I agree about the small(tiny)screen. It doesn't matter how beatiful it is. It's tiny for a lot of practical purposes.
I commented else where that the Bold with the samllest screen has a HUGE form factor size bigger than the HD that has the biggest screen (3.8") BTW the HD dpi 246 it is better than the Bold's

If you can't communicate on an iPhone in your business, then your business needs to adapt to modern times. Perhaps reading the iPhone manual and having your company look into replacing it's archaic system would help. You're falling behind.
Poor out-of-touuch baztard. :lol:

The problem is i need me and my people multi tasking, i cant have them stopping one task to do something as simple as answer their phone or missing calls because they are knee deep in an email and dont want to back out for 3 minutes to talk to the wives mother about Pookie the labradoodle. Although i am sure if they are on a smudge bar, they would know all about Labradoodles or other trendy, pretentious little fads! Besides, why would Mapple make such a sweet entertainment device that we cant operate with one hand. Doesnt he know what the other hand should be doing? Its a shame that that screen that is second only to the Bolds will go wasted.

I left AT&T for Verizon (and the Storm) last month because of severe network service issues. But I do admit I have significant lust issues for the Bold - it looks awesome.

@Rene Ritchie (#66): Rene, I just wanted to comment that I am with Rogers on the $30/6GB plan with my Blackberry Bold. I called in and verified that I could use either my BBRY or an iPhone on that plan and I COULD pull my SIM card and put it into an iPhone without issue.

Great review. I am currently trying to decide my next phone purchase and your review along with everyones replies aids in my decision.

Spent the last 3 years with touchscreen xda and constantly lost the stylus. I quit the day I ran out of cocktail sticks. Got my first Bold 2 weeks ago and can't believe the difference actually using your fingers make, I think its neat, fast, the IM facilities have drastically cut SMS costs. My daughter has an iphone, its cool, but no use for messaging. I'm happy for her but delighted with my choice.

Admit it, you know you became semi-addicted to BBM even though it IS a bit stalkerish. :P

Google Maps does not work on Blackberry Bold in Australia. Absolutely no support available. If you need this function look for a better option.

One Blackberry Bold has already lost its trackball function, and according to the company there is a shortage of replacements....they have offered to contact back in a month?! The build, and particularly the software has been programmed with an extremely limiting, and pay-per-everything functionality. If your considering buying this phone think again, go for a phone that supports open-source. Phone companies are simply not offering enough for what you pay at the moment.

Really a super review. I think your love it/hate it conclusion is rooted in the fact that Blackberries and iPhones are simply built with different priorities.
I have had a Bold since they were first introduced--and Blackberries years before that--and there are some Blackberry Ninja tricks you missed (such as instantly locking the device--disable dialing form the home screen and most important functions are controlled by single key-clicks, such as "k" to locK the device, M for messages, f to change the proFile, etc.); Blackberry is generally strong when it comes to quick shortcuts and great contextual menu actions.
However, though I eschewed the iPhone 3G (because I thought it had inferior materials to the original, took too many steps to make things happen, and was too difficult to type on), I got my son an iPod Touch for Christmas and, during the obligatory charge it up and make sure it works portion of Christmas Eve, I decided I really liked it. Once it was cooking on the WiFi, I liked it even more. When I found the App Store.... yeow! The screen is beautiful and there is so much to do with it. And the iPhone has all of this and MORE?!
Now, some of that initial mania has faded. Young son is now drinking feaux beer on the iTouch and shakes it for a magic 8-ball answer. I can do without that. Nonetheless, I appreciate the author's conclusion that you can love it/hate it; I feel the same about the iPhone.... and I want one.

This keyboard is so annoying any keyboard other then the iPhones is just a real pain in the ass!!!

i dont get it.. why is getting notified of msgs and emails bad?.. If I msg someone asking where they are or how to get there, I would expect them to see the msg and reply back to me asap..
I wish I could change the settings on my iphone so I can get notified of emails louder than a small ping sound, and I dont have to unlock it to see if I have pending emails..

I tried to love the iPhone for almost two years. Then I needed a real phone. So I tried the Bold. I think that if you spend a minute with it, you will appreciate the control you have over the settings. Especially as regards the "over your shoulder" nature of the BB. It's only as intrusive as you want it to be -- the amount of control you have over it is much more granular than what you get with the iPhone -- where you get what Steve Jobs thinks you want.
The keyboard on the iPhone is something I don't think I could ever get used to, and I tried.
The BB gives you expansion options, where the iPhone doesn't... clearly because they want to force you to think about buying a new piece of Apple equipment every time they come out with a new version.
Email is HORRIBLE on the iPhone. Never have I seen anything as cumbersome as trying to delete email on the iPhone.
The BB has a light for the camera... and a video camera, as well! I found that by accident, as the BB does not advertise all of its attributes on misleading commercials like the iPhone's accelerated non-realistic 3G commercials.
What it comes down to, though, is that the iPhone seems gimmicky, while the BB is simply intelligent.

Let's face it, any Blackberry cannot be compared to the iphone. Blackberry is for business solutions and the iphone is simply a toy, better named the igadget or itoy. So what's so bad about the iphone??? Just about EVERYTHING!!
What sucks on the iphone: Texting, e-mail, making a phone call (God forbid anyone with this phone ever has an Emergency), phone calls in general, having to use touch screen for everything, can't change battery when phone dies and of course the battery life sucks, No difference between speakerphone and regular (speakerphone is low and sounds the same), the other person can barely be heard during a call, no picture mail, no video recorder, no voice memo, no voice dialing, phone frequently crashes and locks, ... do I need to go on or do you can you tell that this phone sucks?!
The ONLY kick azz thing about the iphone is the Internet, which no phone has been able to top.
Any Blackberry is great to have. The new Bold, like any other newly released phone or technology, is experiencing many issues with wi-fi, e-mail, texting,...and so on. Basically, the bugs in this phone need to be worked out, which I'm sure Blackberry is working on. Blackbery has fixed a main problem with the structure, as newer Bolds are made more durable and are less easy to break.
Bottom line, Blackberry is currently and has been the best phone manufacturer on the market. But just remember, technology gets old FAST and you better believe Blackberry is starting up new ideas for the new future Blackberry addition. Pretty much, once you buy a new piece of technology it's old and a newer piece of technology is soon to follow.

im writing this comment and watching rambo 3 at the same time lol. the bookends to the rocky kovies were mr favorites of the series..and yeah rocky balboa does tug on ones heart, it was hard for me to watch at a couple of points, most notably the meathouse scene with him and paualie.