How to make the switch from RIM's BlackBerry to Apple's iPhone 4


iPhone 4 with its 960x640 retina display, easy-peasy FaceTime video calling, high quality 5 megapixel, back-illuminated camera that shoots 720p 30fps video, and the silky smoothness of iOS 4 convincing you to switch from RIM's BlackBerry to Apple's newest handset? Worried about moving over your personal data like contacts, finding apps, getting used to the differences? Wondering where to get help?

Stop. Smile. We're here to help. Follow along after the break for everything you need to know (more properly, everything the iPhone Forums have taught us) about switching from BlackBerry to iPhone 4 and iOS 4.

(And yes, we've done Android, webOS</a, and Windows Mobile switcher guides up later this week as well).

RIM to iPhone - Yin and Yang

Perhaps you've used an iPhone before but work or hard core messaging needs demanded you back on the BlackBerry? Perhaps the missing mail and multitasking kept you from trying an iPhone at all until now? It's all good. The past is the past and this is about the future -- your future with iPhone 4 and iOS 4. This is about getting you from BlackBerry to iPhone as fast as possible.

And here's the good news -- of all the smartphone platforms, no two complement each other more than BlackBerry and iPhone. Ultimate communicator to paramount web and app platform. So even if you're not really switching but just lining up a little iPhone action on the side -- we got you covered. Dual wielders most definitely welcome.

Moving over contacts, calendars, and email

If you're on an Exchange server at work, you can just plug your credentials into iPhone and ActiveSync will do the rest. No BES required. That is if IT allows it -- they can get super-controlling with all the super-functionality BES provides. If they won't let you give up the Berry, you can still sneak the iPhone in on your own time. (And if you have or can get the direct Exchange info, you can probably still access your data on the down low).

For personal email, Gmail (and Hotmail soon as well) can also be added via ActiveSync. iOS 4 supports multiple ActiveSync accounts. Just tap the Settings icon on the Home Screen, tap Mail, Contacts, and Calendars, choose Exchange, and enter your info.

If you don't like ActiveSynch, you can setup MobileMe (Apple's expensive push service), Exchange, or pretty much any POP3 or IMAP service you have via the Other button.

Since the iPhone already has a WebKit browser -- the leading WebKit browser -- you can load up and most other web mail sites right in Safari.

What to do about BlackBerry Messenger (BBM)

Ah, there's the lock-in. RIM operates their own, industry leading, completely proprietary messaging service and since there's not much chance they'll announced BlackBerry Connect for iPhone any time soon, leaving BlackBerry means leaving BBM.

Don't panic! (Crash cart ready!. It's for the best, really. Communication protocols shouldn't be proprietary and if they are (like Twitter) they should at least be supported on every platform -- especially the web. That way you can log out of one machine and in to another and all your stuff is just there. Like email. Like IM. Like Twitter. Like pretty much everything popular aside from BBM.

You're moving on and if your friends are real friends, they'll move with you. (Ha, sorry, couldn't resist!).

Now there are iPhone apps that try to mimic the BBM experience, even cross-platform, but we're not going to recommend them because they tend to be just as proprietary as Twitter without the mass adoption... so just use Twitter. Or AIM. Or Windows Live Messenger. There are tons of great iPhone app clients for all of those. Here are the official -- and free -- Twitter [iTunes link], AIM [iTunes link], and WLM [iTunes link] clients for iPhone. You can find several premium, multi-protocol apps as well, including BeeJive [iTunes link] and IM+ [iTunes link]

Finding other apps (and games).

Truth time -- Apple doesn't have a creaky old J2ME operating system awkwardly opening APIs and offering fractured support for technologies like WebKit and OpenGL. (They save partial support for messaging and multitasking! Zing!)

Okay, so Apple may not have invented mobile apps but they've revolutionized them sure as BlackBerry revolutionized mobile communications. What this means to you is 225,000 apps ready and waiting, and surprisingly most have nothing to do with farts. You'll find cutting edge productivity, amazing entertainment, top of the line social networking, and scores and scores of other amazing apps. And sorry Brick Breaker, but the iPhone also owns (and pwns) on games, from the casual farmers to full-on 3D shooters. TiPb reviews several a week and we've got a whole iPhone Apps and Games Forum ready to help you out as well.


Jailbreak and Cydia are two words you might here come up around these parts. Okay, iPhone 4 probably won't be Jailbroken (root jail broken open to allow side-loading of unsigned apps -- if you don't know what that means, skip this section) on launch day but it probably will eventually, maybe even soon. If you're a diehard tweaker and customizer, you'll want to keep your eyes peeled to our Jailbreak coverage, and more importantly -- our Jailbreak Help Forum, and Jailbreak Apps, Games, and Themes Forum.

Say farewell to fracture

Seriously, you don't have to worry much if at all about versions and hardware compatibility any more. With very few exception, iPhone apps past, present, and future will just work on your iPhone 4. Sure the screen is bigger but it's exactly 4 times bigger at the same physical size so existing (pre-iOS 4) apps will look the same and new (post iOS 4) apps will, frankly, blow your eyeballs out the back of your head.

There's no Pearl vs Curve vs Storm vs Bold, keyboard vs no keyboard, flip vs no flip, SureType vs SurePress vs full QWERTY.

Apple is all about user experience and they're doing a lot of abstraction behind the scenes to make sure things look great in front of them.

Say hello to iTunes

A mixed blessing if ever there was one, iTunes runs okay on Mac, kludgy on Windows, but is the local sync client required to activate your iPhone 4 and to transfer large media and document files from your computer to your phone. But why are we telling you this, you've probably used BlackBerry's desktop app, maybe even Outlook. You know how to handle pain.

You can do a lot of things OTA (over the air), including syncing all your personal data via ActiveSync (including Google Sync) or MobileMe, download apps, and buy or rent iTunes music, TV shows, movies, podcasts, etc. (20MB or under over 3G, any size over Wi-Fi). You can find apps that let you access your Google Docs, DropBox,, and other online storage. You can even convert and stream content on the fly with apps like AirSharing [iTunes]. But at some point, be it to install a software update like iOS 4.1 (probably due this fall) or backup your data, you're going to need to plug in to iTunes. So 2007, we know. If it's any consolation, Apple should release at some point...

Say WTH to weak, interruptive notifications

For all the huge usability advantages iOS 4 has over BlackBerry -- and make no mistake they really are huge -- notifications are sorely lacking.

You get one notification popup at a time that you have to view or close before you can resume what you were doing (or about to do) and once you close it -- or another notification pops up on top of it -- it's gone forever.

There's also no notification light -- not even a big glowing Apple logo. Nothing.

Hopefully Apple will fix these omissions in a future update. (Because we know RIM's getting a better browser.)

No. More. Keyboard. Or. Stylus.

No front facing QWERTY, no SureType. No physical hardware keyboards of any kind. Apple hates buttons and keyboards are nothing if not homes for dozens of buttons. If you're coming from a Storm this won't be as big a deal. If you're coming from the Bold...

Okay, here's the thing. Apple prefers the flexibility of a virtual keyboard, and they do flexible keyboards better than anyone in the business. Seriously. Despite what Big Mike says, multitouch capacitive interface of any kind on glass can be a transformative experience.

Apple likes their keys virtual so they go away when you don't need them (without creaking, oreo'ing, popping batteries, or coming to the rescue when virtual keyboards just won't do). On the plus side, if you're multilingual or international, the iPhone keyboard can easily be switched to any alphabet, script, stroke, or pictographic symbol you want to use. It can also become optimized for numbers, games, or pretty much anything you (technically, a developer) can think of.

Best of all, if you really miss your physical keyboard, with iOS 4, you can tether up a Bluetooth one and knock email -- and yourself -- out.

More BlackBerry to iPhone help and information

If you haven't already, check out our complete iOS 4 feature walkthrough. There's an incredible amount of stuff in iOS 4 and you can save yourself some serious time cribbing off of us.

If you need help, or have a story to share, check out TiPb's iPhone forum -- we've got a special switching from BlackBerry to iPhone 4 thread going just for you!

And if we forgot anything or just plain got something wrong, let us know and we'll add it or fix it.

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