Verizon iPhone 4 vs Blackberry Curve 8330: A Review and Comparison

So I finally bit the bullet and left my trusty Blackberry Curve 8330 and made the move to the iPhone 4 (on Verizon). It’s been around three weeks since the switch, and while I don’t regret the move, there are some things I miss about the Blackberry, namely the ease of typing and the real keyboard. But let’ get on with the Review

Let’s start as simply as possible and talk about the size.  The Blackberry is about 1/3 thicker than the iPhone 4, and it’s only slightly shorter (though due to the thinness of the iPhone, the iPhone actually looks much longer).

Practically speaking, this means that I really don’t carry my iPhone in my pocket too much.  My Curve used to live in my front pants pocket, and was fine when I’d bend down to pick something up.  But with the iPhone in my pocket, I’m afraid that if I bend down to pick something up of the ground, that I’ll crush the iPhone.  The pictures do show that the iPhone really isn’t that much longer, but it feel much more fragile.

Edge:  Blackberry

I’ve put a screen protector and a case on the iPhone, and I still treat it a bit with kid gloves.  With the screen protector in place I’m comfortable putting the iPhone in the same pocket as my car keys, but with my Blackberry I never gave it a second thought.  My Blackberry has been scratched, dropped, and otherwise beat-up, and is still running well (see above photos).  I must admit however, I have replaced the ball apparatus twice on the Blackberry (it probably broke due to my overuse and abuse of the device), but overall the Blackberry is fine (cosmetically it’s scratched up, but that only means it’s been used well).

Edge: Blackberry

Browsing the Web
I did my best to improve my web browsing experience on my Blackberry (I added Opera as a second browser) and I was happy with my results. But now that I have an iPhone, browsing the web on the iPhone hands-down beats browsing the web on the Blackberry. Ignoring the fact that you can have multiple open browser windows (which you can’t do on the Blackberry), the iPhone makes browsing the web a pleasure once again.   Also note that I’ve get to have one of those “hourglass moments” as I will call them, when a web page is loading and the Blackberry, for lack of a better term, vomits — and needs to have the browser re-opened or needs to be fully restarted.

Edge: iPhone 4

My Blackberry Curve has a camera and and a video camera built in and that’s about all I can tell you. Seriously, though, I’ve used the video camera once when I was trying it out, and I’ve never used it again; the video quality is poor and getting things to line-up is a hassle. Same goes for the camera — I really only take Blackberry pictures when I have no other choice (and by the time I bring up the camera and get everything ready, I’ve missed the moment. I also must mention that unfortunately the picture quality is poor, as well. I laughed about the iPhone 4 because I couldn’t imagine what someone would need a video camera for in a phone! Well now I’m laughing on the other side of my face as I use the iPhone video camea more than the high-end video camera that I’m supposed to be using! The iPhone 4’s video camera takes incredible videos (not to mention that you can quickly pop the videos right up to YouTube, too), so you will never miss a moment again. Note though that you are limited by the strange size of the screen, and that the flash will blind anyone close by — so use the video camera in good lighting. And as for pictures, the still picture quality is great, and you can take HDR pictures, as well. So the iPhone, as a no brainier, wins this round, too.

Edge: iPhone 4

Expansion Slots:
The Blackberry’s memory (really hard drive space) can be expanded with a card; the iPhone can’t. This, in my opinion is a MAJOR problem with the iPhone (I wasn’t forking over another $100 for an extra 16GB of space), but it’s NOT a deal-breaker. If I could purchase it again, I’d probably still go with the 16GB iPhone. In the interests of full disclosure, I do still frequently bring my iPod along with me too, so I’m not really stressing the drive space out on the iPhone.

And on the subject of space, I did find the Blackberry to be very “tight”. Once I had Opera and Google Maps installed, the Blackberry wasn’t too thrilled about adding other applications.

Edge:  It’s a tie

Applications and Performance
First — I’m not an app guy. If someone can explain to me why I’d download the Wall Street Journal App as opposed to clicking the Wall Street Journal bookmark icon on my touch screen (to read the Journal via Safari), I’d really appreciate it! But managing apps and running apps is 100x easier with the iPhone than with the Blackberry curve. In fact, other than Opera and Google Maps, I’ve added virtually nothing to my Blackberry because of the inconvenience of adding apps and because I worry about running out of space. Add the fact that there are probably around a jillion apps available for the iPhone vs not as many jillilon for the Blackberry, and you’ll see that the iPhone also sweeps in this category, too.  Ok I lied, I do use one app quite a bit and that’s  Skype,  I also love the fact that the iPhone 4 has a front and rear facing camera, so I can show people on the phone what I’m looking at (e.g. for mission-critical questions such as, “is this the correct brand of spaghetti sauce?”)

And just so you know, as of right now (3/2011), FaceTime is Wi-Fi ONLY!

Edge: iPhone 4

Typing gets its own category (different from email and you will see why shortly) because there is nothing on this Earth like a the Blackberry Curve’s keyboard.  I’ve used a bunch of keyboards and the only limiting factor on the keyboard on the curve is that my fingers can’t move fast  enough.  I’ve been using the iPhone for a few weeks, and while typing is much improved from the iPhone 3, if I didn’t do lots of correcting of my typos, you’d think from my emails that English is my third or fourth language.  You’ll get used to the touch keyboard on the iPhone, but you will sorely miss your Blackberry’s wonderful, fast, and responsive raised keyboard.

Edge: Blackberry.

I first thought that the Blackberry would wipe the floor clean with the iPhone when it came to email flexibility; I was wrong. Like many folks out there, I have four email accounts and I used my Curve to manage all four accounts. I like the idea of a universal inbox on the Blackberry (which is strange because I ABSOLUTELY HATE IT on Outlook or Thunderbird), as well as the fact that I can view individual email accounts. I did not know that the iPhone was up to this email separation, and I’m happy to say that I was wrong and that the iPhone does a wonderful job with multiple accounts.

[Geek Alert: And as an added bonus surprise, the iPhone 4 lets you manage your IMAP folders, too. Ask a sales rep about the iPhone’s ability to manage IMAP folders vs the Blackberry and you will (generally) see their eyes glaze over but UNLIKE the Blackberry, not only will the iPhone handle IMAP (and over SSL I might add), you will be able to see all of your IMAP folders. (If what I said in the last paragraph makes about as much sense to you as Special Relativity, then that means you are not using IMAP and you can safely skip over this paragraph — hence the “Geek Alert”].

Edge: iPhone 4

Service and Voicemail
I’m on the Verizon network in the Greater NY/NJ/CT Metro area and I’ve seen no performance difference between the Blackberry and the iPhone 4; there are no dropped calls and data service is fast. One VAST improvement you should know about, too, is the voicemail change. With the Curve you need to go through the long and tired voicemail menu (e.g. dial to voicemail, enter your password, listen to the voicemail lady tell you about what messages are going to expire, then press 1 for this, press 7 for that, etc). With the iPhone you navigate to the voicemail screen where you can see who left the voicemails (ok you see the number of the caller — but it will tell you who it was if the number is in your contacts) and then you click on the message to hear it. Done.

Edge: Verizon Service = Tie, Voicemail = iPhone 4

Battery Life
I can’t prove it but I “feel” like the Blackberry has better battery life than the iPhone.  I could go a few days without charging the Blackberry, but I wouldn’t dare do that with the iPhone.  Then again, how much battery life you do drain when you are really only writing emails.  As an aside, can easily find off-brand chargers for the Blackberry for under $10 while the additional chargers for the iPhone 4 that I’ve seen run in the $20-$30 range.

Edge:  Blackberry

Wireless Hot-Spot and Tethering
One of the coolest thins about the Blackberry is the ability to tether the phone to my laptop and use it as a wireless hot spot (e.g. as a wireless router, etc).  I generally would use the USB connection is the Bluetooth connection never went well for me (and trust me, I know what I’m doing).  The main problem I had with the Curve is that over the years the connectors on the cable (and probably the phone) wore a bit, so that if the guy sitting next to me on the train reached to get  his ticket, my internet connection would disconnect.   The iPhone 4 can easily act as a wireless hot spot and turning it on is as simple as pushing the button (and you can and SHOULD use a good password to protect your network traffic) — and while you can use the USB cable, I really only use the iPhone “not-attached” the computer.  And in terms of internet speed, the two devices are comparable.

A difference of note is the Verizon data plans for the devices.  At last check (3/2011). the Blackberry had a plan for under 1GB (which is totally impractical) and a plan for 5GB of bandwidth monthly. The iPhone has the tiny plan as well, but it also has a 2GB/month plan (but has no 5GB a month plan).  Verizon works out the pricing on these data plans based on your overall account, but for my purposes, I saved around $10/month going from the 5Gb/mo Blackberry tethering plan to the iPhone 4’s 2GB/month tethering plan.  Also note that I did some digging of my historical tethering data and found that I rarely went over 1.5GB of data in any given month.   If you are a bandwidth hog, take note!

Edge:  It’s a tie.

Those who know me know that I’m a hard-core PC/Blackberry/business email kind of guy (despite my iPod, iPhone, and iMac) so it may come as some surprise to them that when it comes down to the Blackberry Curve 8330 vs the iPhone 4 on Verizon, I would recommend the upgrade to the iPhone 4  in a heartbeat (besides, who else do you know that uses the IMAP protocol? ).  Maybe I was a multimedia Scrooge because I never used the camera or video camera on my Blackberry, but the ability to have cameras that I actually use PLUS having  iTunes on my phone really is a plus.

The two major differences that you will need to get accustomed to when you move from the Curve to the iPhone is the delicateness of the iPhone compared to the Blackberry, and the fact that you will need to get used to typing on a touch screen.  The more and more I use the phone, the more my typing improves, but I don’t think that I’ll ever be as fast on my iPhone as I was on my Blackberry Curve.

But once you get past these two things (which you will), you will not regret your iPhone 4 purchase.

So did I get it right or did I get it wrong?  Have a question about going to the iPhone from the Blackberry Curve?  Leave a comment and let me know.

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