Just about a year go, I wrote about whether my first generation iPhone could replace my Blackberry. My conclusion at the time was no. Now one year later, I have taken the plunge and moved my 11-year Verizon number to my new 3G iPhone. I did it because I love photography and the new Phanfare app for the iPhone allows me to finally build a wireless camera i can live with.
In the year since I wrote the last article, Apple also fixed a lot about what was broken with the first generation iPhone. They added 3G, they added GPS, they included Exchange integration and they allow you to search your contacts. I have been using the new 3G iPhone in Exchange mode for 3 days. here are the pros and cons relative to a Verizon Blackberry.
- I can delete and file email messages in folders much more efficiently with the iPhone than the Blackberry.
- The UI on the iPhone is light years ahead of the Blackberry.
- The Apple Remote program that lets you control iTunes is a dream when combined with an Airport express and and amp. Finally, whole house sound that makes sense for parties and won’t break the bank. Thank you Apple!
- iPhone does push email in the background, not quite as well as a Blackberry, but competently.
- You can respond to email on your iPhone when there is no network present. It queues for later delivery like a Blackberry.
- Third party apps are awesome. My personal favorites are the Phanfare app (of course) and the light saber app.
- GPS is fast and reliable.
- You can’t delete or file email when there is no network coverage.
- The Blackberry is faster to go from “holster or pocket” to reading email. Blackberry loads faster (but with no animations)
- The keyboard for me is still much slower and less accurate than a Blackberry. When I touch type, I look at the display, not the keys. With an iPhone, I must look at the keys because there is no tactile way to feel the keys.
- If you respond to email on the iPhone, it does not show as replied within Outlook.
- App’s can’t run in the background, so for example, the Phanfare app can’t push photos when you are doing other stuff.
- GSM phones cause other electronics to buzz (speakers, for example). Now I have the classic GSM phone buzz coming from my computer speakers when sitting at my desk. CDMA phones don’t have this problem.
- No wireless synch of exchange Notes or Tasks. Not a huge thing, but I do use these features.
- The iPhone battery life is a total disaster. If you keep 3G on, even if you don’t use a lot of 3G and are out and about, send some email, read a few web pages and make a 10 min phone call, your battery will be dead, dead, dead by 4pm.
- The ATT network is horribly under built compared to Verizon in the tri-state area. There are many places where you get no service or a 1 bar, which contributes to battery life problems.
- Even in a major metro area like NYC, if you explore a bit (We took i80 out to the Delaware water gap today), you will quickly find that 3G basically only exists up the Turnpike.
So what is the verdict? I am sticking with my iPhone, but it simply can’t by my only phone. No way I can travel into the city and only bring my iPhone. I wound deplete the battery and be very frustrated.
When traveling I find myself stuffing my old Verizon Blackberry into my bag. It has a phone number that nobody knows, but it also has my email, and email is super reliable on the Blackberry.
I used to travel on airplanes with 2 Verizon phones; the Blackberry is horrible in a noisy place. I had a cheapo family share phone I used for those situations. Now I will simply take my Blackberry and my iPhone, but that is a very expensive solution.
The iPhone battery life and the lousy ATT network are the two biggest things holding back the iPhone, especially for serious business use. Remember, the battery on the iPhone can’t be removed. Originally, I thought “big deal.” I never carry a second battery for my Blackberry. But you see, my Verizon Blackberry can easily go 30 hours on a charge, meaning I can get through the day with it.
Cell phones use more power when cell reception is weak, so the bad ATT network certainly contributes to the poor battery life on the iPhone. But i am guessing that if there was a CDMA version of the iPhone running on the Verizon network, it would still be challenged to last a full work day.
A Verizon Blackberry remains the gold standard for reliable wireless email in the United States.
Nevertheless, the iPhone is nothing less than revolutionary. At the exact moment when SW developers have pretty much given up creating downloadable software for Macs and PCs, those same developers are clamoring to write downloadable apps for the iPhone. This is no accident. The iPhone is a new consumer computing platform, one that will enormously successful up and down the food chain.