Editorial: BlackBerry Bold 9780 vs iPhone 4

by Carlo Ople  May 31, 2011

One of the questions I get asked the most is “What’s should I buy? iPhone or BlackBerry?” If you asked me 3 months ago I probably would have said iPhone without skipping a heartbeat. However after using the iPhone 4 for several months now and having experience as well with the BlackBerry Bold 9780 I can honestly say without bias that each phone has their own strengths and weaknesses. If you’re torn between phones you have to dig deep and look at the features, form factor, and brand. For this article I’ll list down the pros and cons of each unit and hopefully help you decide which phone you should get.

Apple iPhone 4 Pros

  • Apps, apps, apps: The best thing about the iPhone 4! The amount of apps you can download via the app store is staggering. In fact if you don’t control yourself you might end up spending more on the app store than your phone, haha! There are a lot of great games for all kinds of gamers like Plants vs Zombies, Angry Birds, and Infinity Blade. There are also nice apps for professionals like ActionMethod.
  • Great media player: The spacious screen of the iPhone 4 is okay for watching videos and looking at photos. Of course this is best done with tablets like the iPad or the PlayBook. However one of the things going for the iPhone is it’s integrated well with the Apple ecosystem. Through AirPlay you can stream your music, photos, or videos to your Apple TV and your home entertainment system.
  • Personal Hotspot: If you get the unlimited data plan of Globe (php999/month), the iPhone 4 can function as a great DSL back-up at home. It also compliments tablets that are only enabled for WiFi and not 3G. I use this a lot since my PLDT DSL connection at home keeps on crashing. I also only have the WiFi only iPad 2.
  • Great camera: The iPhone 4 truly has one of the best cameras among smartphones. The only comparable one or maybe even better is the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc. If you don’t want to keep on lugging around a DLSR or point and shoot camera with you when you go out, the iPhone 4 can be a good device to capture memories. Oh, most of the photos taken in Unbox are from my iPhone 4.
  • Browsing and Social Media: The spacious screen of the iPhone 4 also lets you enjoy social networking more. The Twitter and Facebook apps offer comparable experiences to the desktop version – especially Twitter!

Apple iPhone 4 Cons

  • Dropped calls: This is the thing I hate the most with the iPhone 4. Sometimes I make calls and either the person on the other line can’t hear me or I can’t hear them. What annoys me is that it happens a lot. I’m not sure if it’s because of the carrier but it’s definitely the most frustrating thing with the iPhone 4.
  • Case or Bumpers: On top of the hefty price tag you also have to invest in a case because of the so called “death grip”. You can get the cheap cases in Greenhills but if you want the nice ones you’ll have to fork over at least Php1,000.
  • Ear Fatigue: The flat glass panel isn’t really made for making long calls. Ears will get fatigued after a while. This made me buy the Jabra Wireless Bluetooth Headset since I make and take a lot of calls daily.
  • Touchscreen Texting: Not everyone will enjoy texting using the touchscreen. Especially people with bigger-than-average fingers.
  • Battery: Battery won’t last the day especially if you’re on 3G. Always have to make sure you have a charger with you when you go out. External battery packs cost a lot but they’re essential especially if you’re going out of town.

To summarize the iPhone 4 is a great lifestyle phone. It’s an entertainment and multimedia hub rolled into one device. However it doesn’t deliver as well (compared to the BlackBerry) in the core functions of a phone which is calling, battery life, and texting.

BlackBerry Bold 9780 Pros

  • BBM, BBM, BBM: One of the defining features of the BlackBerry brand. The BlackBerry Messenger allows you to constantly stay in contact with your friends who are also on BBM in a fun and cool way. There’s also no constantly increasing costs involved if you’re subscribed to the unlimited data services of your carrier.
  • Superb Keypad: I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the BlackBerry Bold 9780 has the best keypad I’ve ever used. Ever. As in… ever. Typing SMS, e-mails, or BBM is effortless and this is something that the iPhone 4 can never match.
  • Seamless Integration with the PlayBook: The BlackBerry Bridge service will let you enjoy your BlackBerry on a bigger surface with the PlayBook. You can easily stream your messaging and e-mail without the need to sync.
  • No problems with calls: Unlike the iPhone 4 I’ve never had problems making calls on the BlackBerry. It’s always reliable. I hate it when I have to make an emergency call and my phone conks out on me because the person on the other line can’t hear what I’m saying.
  • Comes with a nice leather case: With the Bold 9780 you don’t need to buy another case since it already comes with a beautiful black leather case. If you slide in the 9780 it will automatically lock and when you remove it the phone will unlock (maybe this inspired the Smart Cover, hehe).
  • BlackBerry OS 6: This completely modernized the BlackBerry experience. The user interface is much better!

BlackBerry Bold 9780 Cons

  • Lack of Apps: This is the biggest limitation of the BlackBerry ecosystem. I’m glad though that RIM is aggressive in trying to get more developers on their platform and I hope that in the next year or so we’ll see more quality applications (both professional and entertainment).
  • Screen Size: I have no complaints with the resolution but it’s a bit difficult to enjoy photos and browsing on the relatively small screen (compared to Touchscreen phones like the BlackBerry Torch 9800 or iPhone).
  • Camera: The camera isn’t bad but it’s not that good either. I would rather have the iPhone 4 camera with me when I take photos.

To summarize, the BlackBerry Bold 9780 is a solid, reliable, and professional phone. The core functions are delivered well and the BBM is a great way to keep in touch with friends, officemates, and family. The major drawback is that it can’t function as your primary entertainment device since you can’t enjoy browsing too much and there are only a few good apps available. It’s a good music player but watching videos and sharing photos isn’t that great of an experience.

Who wins?

So who wins? There is no right or wrong answer. It really depends on how you will use the phone. I have both and I usually end up doing my texting and calling more on the BlackBerry and I’ve turned my iPhone 4 into a mini-browser and media player.

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