Round Robin: BlackBerry Bold Q&A!
[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!]
Fair enough, the CrackBerry's didn't smack me around as badly as the WinManiac -- those who bothered to read the context disclaimer and understand the point of the Round Robin at least! Ha! And along with the awesome CrackBerry.com forum members who tried to help a poor iPhone n00b out, the commenters added many useful insights and a tip or two to boot! Still some questions were asked and that means there are answers to be attempted... after the break!
Better is subjective. Due to it's much higher pixel density (217dpi vs. 160pi) the Bold looks sharper than the iPhone, but because of the much smaller physical size, you may or may not value that sharpness over the beefier screen on the iPhone. (Think iPod Nano experience). Again, it's like a 1080p LCD TV at 37" as opposed to 52".
Battery life was excellent! RIM really balances this well. However, I didn't enjoy the web browsing or media experience (never mind gaming) as much as the iPhone, so I didn't do those things as much. When I did, it added considerably to battery drain as happens with pretty much every device.
The Bold was much lighter than I thought it would be, and given it's width, it's still incredibly slim on the profile, so it's very pocketable.
The speakers sounded great! The Bold has one huge advantage over the iPhone 3G when it comes to speakers: they pump much more serious volume out of the ear speaker when playing media. On the iPhone 3G, the ear speaker is much lower than the bottom speaker. The Bold balances this better, for a nicer stereo experience. (You listening, Apple?!)
No UI is yet as intuitive as the iPhone's, and frankly while the neon wireframes look neat, they're not always immediately obvious. Add to that multiple email icons when you add accounts (I can hide them, I know, but they're not hidden by default) and the lack of iPhone-style text labels beneath them, along with the trackball moving too little or too much, and it took some time and practice before I was speedy with it. And no magnifying glass, as the email was easy enough to read, though the app is Spartan to say the least.
I dislike physical keyboards as I find the repetitive pressure stressful and it burns out the small muscles in my forearms. I far, far, prefer typing on the iPhone, but other people will no doubt feel the opposite way. That said, the Bold had the nicest keyboard I've used so far. I did like the sticky feel of the Treo Pro, but the Bold's width made a big difference.
Didn't try WiFi as I get really decent 3G. I did see that there was a separate WiFi browser mode, which I found strange and off-putting. UI should be UI and pipe should be pipe, and never should a user be forced to watch the sausage being made.
Nope. Menuing and UI systems were hecka snappy. However, once in a while the screen would flash pure white for a second then come back. Not sure what that was about?
1) It works okay. The frustration was minimal, but the screen was sharp and small, and it takes a while to scroll. It's hard to use other handset browsers after MobileSafari, however. 2) It seems like RIM is trying harder with media, and the built in players all worked well enough, but again anything would have trouble in comparison to the iPhone's real strengths. 3) I tried the Gmail downloadable app, which worked well enough, but again I prefer having 1 email app to rule them all. 4) Keyboard shortcuts work, but the trackball is king. 5) Nope, other than fashion. Messaging the Bold's forte.
No App Store yet in the iPhone sense. CrackBerry.com offers so similar services, but Apple really nailed the mobile software delivery system. I didn't try Facebook. Anyone tried them both and willing to share?
Good, but I've never had trouble with the iPhone's radio. Not had a dropped call yet on either device. (Knock wood).
App Store is unmatched as of this moment, but RIM is planning to iClone... er deploy their own version(s) soon.
Good! Fix it in place and forget it!
Bla1ze was kind enough to answer the browser question, and I bow before his crackspertise! "the “Internet Browser” the “Hot Spot Browser” and whatever lame wap browser your carrier wants to install (ie: medianet for AT&T) but essentially all function in the same way you can read a better explanation that I posted @ http://forums.crackberry.com/f3/why-do-i-have-different-browsers-ie-wap-internet-wifi-85060/"
Maybe a real time strategy game would enjoy more buttons, the way they do on PCs vs. consoles. Dunno. We could come up with many names, how about it, commenters?
It scraped a scratch in my iPhone 3G glass, which nothing else had thus far been able to do, so yeah, I think it would kill at ice scraping.
Er... I'll just assume you finally read all about the Round Robin contest in the many, many links we've posted and skip on ahead... Yup, I believe the bold has Google Maps goodness.
It was about the same as watching on the iPod Nano in my experience. Super high density in a tiny little package. I'm not sure about the movie format as I didn't try moving anything over.
Sound was good. I'm not sure digital actually improved on analog, and everything sounds chopped off to me, but I'd say they're pretty much good all around.
Trackballs are mechanical and hence subject to mechanical failure. Think old school ball mouse. I don't think anyone really understood mobile interfaces before Apple launched the iPhone, now RIM is struggling to adapt a last gen micro-OS to a next gen world. They're still selling phones because they took a lesson from Microsoft and managed to get a huge install base of locked-in proprietary technology: BIS, BES, and NOC.
Google has really poor IMAP support on any and every platform, so there's really no way to make a fair comparison. When Gmail is working, they both work.
Cost will vary by carrier, but I think it's roughly the same as any data plan. I believe the Bold tops out a depressing 65K colors, which is a little out dated, but again at 217dpi, I'm not sure how noticeable it would be (I couldn't see much if any dithering or distortion). 2 MP camera... but with flash!
Anything unknown remains a question.
I couldn't get Opera Mobile working on the FUZE, so no comparison for me. Maybe Dieter would know.
Sorry, didn't try WiFi on the Bold, but the iPhone's is awesome.
Kevin swears Mac support for the BlackBerry is improving. Pretty depressing that it took them this long!
Bold was stop and use for me. It had to be. I don't know how Kevin can handle really parsing, processing, and responding to all that push email and messaging without stopping. Then again, he's much smarter and more productive than I am. (And those were the apps I liked most).
Well, since you were so gracious and classy in the asking, I really enjoyed the power of the messaging, but as I said in my review, the demand of it was terrifying.
The keyboard if you prefer physical keyboards?
Depends on your needs and preferences.
Nope, felt fine!
iPhone reception has been solid for me, get a better network!
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.
By Daryl Baxter