Photo: Business Insider / Matthew Lynley
Before you grab your pitchforks and hot tar, I just want to make a quick point: for me, the iPhone is basically an iPod duct taped onto a phone.Of the 28-some odd gigabytes of space available, 98 per cent of that is devoted to music. The iPod app has seen more use than every other app on the phone combined.
A close second? Email. Third? Text messaging. Then Facebook and Twitter. A distant sixth-place contender is web browsing and navigation.
The BlackBerry does all of those other apps better than the iPhone simply because I can save seconds or fractions of a second. That’s more important to me than a little animation that makes the whole process look slightly prettier at the cost of a fraction of a second.
When I installed the BlackBerry desktop app to synchronise it, it says, “more time for life.” Research in Motion gets its audience.
So why does everyone hate the BlackBerry? Seems to me like they just don’t get it.
When I first got my hands on the iPhone, I was delighted. When I got my hands on the BlackBerry, all I could think about was all the ways it was about to make my life better and easier.
Like our other writer Alyson Shontell, I decided to run an experiment — and use a BlackBerry for two weeks. I’d decide which one I liked best, and go out and buy an upgrade on Black Friday when everything went on sale.
Let's start with what the iPhone does best: music
This one is almost too easy. The iPhone was built off the iPod and it is a far, far superior music player. It's the best smartphone out there for playing music. The player never stutters regardless of the sound quality for the song. I found that at 320 kbs quality (which is very high), the BlackBerry music player would stutter.
Navigating the application is also much easier on the iPhone. It's done through a mix of swipes and taps instead of the painful trackpad navigation on the BlackBerry. There are a few shortcuts on the iPhone that I would never give up: double-clicking a headset button to jump to the next track, swiping on an album cover to jump back to the music library and finding specific titles with the search bar.
It's such a ridiculously good app, Apple deserves three points for this. But Apple has music written into its DNA. If it lost this battle, Apple wouldn't even deserve to be the most valuable technology company in the world.
Apple starts off the game by flattening a BlackBerry defender with a slam dunk.
SCORE: iPhone 3, BlackBerry 0
Swish! Apple sinks its free throw.
This one should be another automatic victory for the iPhone. It already had an excellent music management program for the iPod with iTunes, so it wouldn't take much to duct tape some additional features onto that. It's really easy to buy music, apps and other content and have it automatically jump onto your phone. Transferring contacts back and forth is also great.
Where iTunes really shines, though, is synchronizing over Wi-fi. There's no excuse for a phone to not be able to do that right now. You can only sync your music with the BlackBerry over Wi-fi, and it's a bit of a chore to set up. You can still use your phone while it's synchronizing, too.
Apple's new iCloud also makes it really easy to back up your contacts and email, and it works right out of the box. There really isn't an analogue for that with the BlackBerry yet (or if there is, I haven't found it).
SCORE: iPhone 4, BlackBerry 0
The Apple App Store boasts more than 300,000 applications, and the most popular apps usually end up on the Apple App Store before any other app store (outside of maybe Android).
But it's hard to argue that the BlackBerry doesn't have the same mission-critical apps that Apple has. I still have Twitter, I still have Facebook and I still have Pandora. I don't have mindless Angry-Birds-Clone_01, but I don't really care about that.
I'd also argue that those applications are also a little easier to use on the BlackBerry thanks to the physical keyboard. It's easier to type a Tweet or a status update, so it ends up being faster. The whole experience is probably a little step down from the iPhone's glossy versions, but it's worth it for the amount of time you save.
The only thing I'm really missing are games like Infinity Blade, but I didn't really play those to begin with. But Apple does have the edge with early access to applications.
Plus, Apple has Ubercab. I would probably die without it.
SCORE: iPhone 5, BlackBerry 0
This is turning into a rout, isn't it?
Well, not so fast. The BlackBerry is actually the fastest smartphone I've ever used -- which includes the iPhone and a lot of Android phones.
It takes less time to get to my email or to get to an App that I need to open with the BlackBerry. The apps load in less time and the experience never feels bloated. It's ruthlessly efficient.
In comparison, my iPhone feels bloated at times -- it stutters and takes several seconds to load apps some times and it will hang at the lock screen. It's a little baffling, given that the iPhone is supposed to sport some vastly superior technical specs.
But I'm going to give the edge here to the BlackBerry. I save several minutes each day not waiting for the apps to get off the ground. BlackBerry is back in the game -- but just barely.
SCORE: iPhone 5, BlackBerry 1
During my first week in New York, I was headed into the city from a subway station in Brooklyn. I asked a friend to pull out her phone so I could jot down a quick note. It slipped out of her hands and hit the ground.
I cringed, because I knew exactly what had happened. She picked it up and the back was completely shattered. What was once a beautifully crafted piece of art was now broken -- and would slice open your finger if you touched it the wrong way.
The iPhone is a gorgeous piece of hardware. It's probably the best looking phone out there. But that's hampered because you are almost required to buy a case -- unless you have a death grip on your phone at all times. So you automatically lose some of its aesthetic value.
The BlackBerry, in comparison, doesn't have that identity crisis. It isn't gussied up in make-up or glass covered with shiny Apple logos. It's solid and sturdy, with a matte casing that gives you a little bit of reassurance that you probably won't drop it.
Even if I did drop it, I wouldn't worry too much about it. The BlackBerry feels like it's built like a tank. And I drop my phone a lot.
SCORE: iPhone 5, BlackBerry 2
Imagine being at the front of the line at a red light in your car while you're checking your phone. Instead of someone honking at you from behind when it turns green, someone steps out of their car, walks up, taps on the window and returns your attention to driving.
That's what the BlackBerry's notification light on the top of the phone is like. Whenever you get a message, it flashes periodically. It's the most non-obnoxious thing on the planet -- there's no sound or buzzing when you get an email or a notification through the phone if you like. Just a little blinking light.
I need to know when I get a message in this line of work, because our job is measured in seconds -- not minutes. But often enough, a vibrating phone or loud enough sound can jarr you out of your zone and end up slowing you down.
Not like the BlackBerry though. It's just like a guy in the corner of the room, patiently reminding you that he's there with a little wave periodically.
Sometimes you have to enjoy the little things.
SCORE: iPhone 5, BlackBerry 3
With some solid fundamentals, BlackBerry is suddenly back in a game no one thought it had a chance at winning. And there's little more fundamental than being able to actually use your phone for as long as you can.
I brought my BlackBerry home for the Thanksgiving holiday, and the last time I charged it was on Wednesday before I left for the airport. It still has about 50 per cent battery left in the phone, and I haven't turned off the data network or anything like that.
By comparison, I've had to charge the iPhone several times throughout my stay here so far. I can't leave certain apps open on the iPhone, because they drain the battery so radically quickly that the phone is dead before I realise it. Apple's latest operating system also introduced some changes that reports indicate are killing the phone's battery.
Your phone is useless if the battery is dead. Another score for BlackBerry for actually stepping on the court and playing for the full game.
SCORE: iPhone 5, BlackBerry 4
When something crazy happens, my first instinct is usually to document it with a photo.
With the iPhone, I usually don't have enough time to take a photo. Before iOS 5, you had to unlock the phone, jump out of the app you were in, jump into the camera app and then you could shoot a photo. That could take upwards of 4 to 6 seconds.
After iOS 5, Apple added a camera button to the lock screen of the phone, but it still isn't a substitution for a hard, physical camera button. You have to double-tap the home screen, tap that button and then you can take a picture. That still takes a few seconds, and you still have to unlock your phone to share it.
It's a superior camera, and one of the best camera phones on the market. The image quality is much higher and Apple includes an HDR option that takes low-exposure and high-exposure images and compiles them into a clearer image. The digital zoom is better.
But those three seconds! Ugh!
On the BlackBerry, you can jump from a dark screen to having taken a photo in less than one. Whip out the phone press the camera button twice, and bam. You have a photo. You can't share it right away like you can through the camera app on the iPhone, but at least you have a photo.
Each of the phones get a point for this one.
SCORE: iPhone 6, BlackBerry 5
The iPhone is the best device on the market for sharing content.
You can share photos and videos you shoot from some of the apps on the BlackBerry, but it just doesn't compare to the iPhone. Twitter and YouTube are basically built into the camera on the iPhone. The Facebook application is superior on the iPhone and it's much easier to share photos and tag people in them.
By comparison, the BlackBerry's sharing mechanisms still feel a little clunky and aren't really integrated at all with the operating system. You have to dive into the apps to ship content off to the web, and it's nowhere near as fast as it is on the iPhone.
It's easier to post a status update on Twitter or Facebook on the BlackBerry, but there's just no excuse for how long it takes to get a photo to the web. A picture is more valuable as a status update than words ever could be. Apple has another huge advantage here.
SCORE: iPhone 8, BlackBerry 5
Here's the clutch 3-pointer you've been waiting for with 4 seconds left on the shot clock.
The BlackBerry was built with email and business in mind. It's one of the best enterprise phones on the market right now and is defending its top spot from Apple and other encroaching phones. And the differences in the notifications on the iPhone and the BlackBerry show just how far Apple has to go before it can play on the same court as the BlackBerry.
Instead of having huge notifications -- which Apple took four years to add to its phone -- you can page through your notifications as simple headlines. Facebook says you have a friend request. You have three new mentions on Twitter. Google Alerts says 'Matt Lynley' just showed up in search. Press one button and you instantly jump to the notification.
There's no lag time. Nothing has to load.
The iPhone couldn't be more different. You press on that Twitter notification, and the screen stylishly jumps off to the side. You get a blank screen for a second, and then Twitter shows up. Then it takes about a second to jump to the right Tweet. There's a lot of animation and the whole process takes about 3 seconds.
Now multiply that 10 times a day. More than 3,000 times each year. Those animations get old and there's no way to turn them off.
The same is true for your email inbox. The BlackBerry has a simple, streamlined, unified email inbox that includes notifications from everything -- including Facebook, your corporate email, text messages and anything else that has notifications. It takes about 4 seconds to set up.
Setting up an email account on the iPhone is a huge pain in the arse, and sometimes doesn't work. You have to dig through settings folders, make sure the right authentication servers are right, so on and so forth. Then you only get access to email, and again it's filled with a bunch of needless animations.
Apple's notifications and email were not designed with speed and efficiency in mind. The iPhone is an example of form before function, while the BlackBerry is function before form. It works because it has to and it is the smoothest communications experience you will ever experience out of any smartphone out there.
Cue the roof blowing off the stadium -- BlackBerry just dropped a bomb on Apple.
SCORE: iPhone 8, BlackBerry 8
Well, not quite. Each phone has its respective strengths to the point that they are able to stand toe-to-toe with each other on the smartphone battlefield.
But I'm still going with the BlackBerry, because it's new.
I'm bored with the iPhone. Yes, it's probably the best consumer-facing smartphone out there. But it's the same operating system I've used since 2007. It's like eating the same cereal each morning or wearing the same shirt every day for four years.
It isn't a bad operating system. Far from it. Many would consider it the best. But it's been so long since there has been such a brand new, fresh way of using it that I'm ready to shake things up. The BlackBerry just happened to have the right mix of features that I was looking at, though Windows Phone also looks just as tempting (and I'll probably check it out later).
WINNER: BlackBerry (on a technicality)
I'll probably end up back on the iPhone when Apple finally decides to completely re-invent the operating system or add something that is so compelling that I can't afford to miss it.
But until then, you'll have to excuse me as I beat the Black Friday crowds to buy a new phone.
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