I've been living a dual mobile life with both an iPhone and a Blackberry Pearl for almost six months now, and I thought that before we before we get overwhelmed with new gadgets rolled out at CES and Macworld, I would check back in on my developing relationship with the iPhone. I appreciate its charms much more after working with it for a while, and I have found an important new use for it, but it is significant that I have not come close to setting aside my Blackberry yet.
After the jump, you'll find my side-by-side comparison, written from a busy working Mom's perspective:
Pocketability: For all the whiz-bang features on a smart phone, for me it is still very important to have a phone that I can carry in my pocket. The Blackberry Pearl fits this bill to a T. I almost always have it with me and it's never awkward to carry it. As for the iPhone, I still feel that I should be carrying it around on a velvet pillow. It is not huge, but I find that when I drop the iPhone it is usually a result of some sort of awkward pocket transition.
Whole package, computer away from home: I am much more satisfied with my iPhone when I think of it as an extremely portable computer, rather than a mobile phone replacement. I like having my iCal appointments and contacts sync'd with my desktop computer. The iPhone keeps me connected on a busy day away from the office, but since I am not able to write blog posts on it, for longer trips I need to bring my laptop as well.
iPod and Video: Nice to have on the iPhone, obviously. However, my old combination of Blackberry plus iPod Nano worked very well though, and in some cases was more portable, so I wouldn't recommend switching over to iPhone just for that.
Reading email and browsing the internet: I prefer the iPhone, though the browsing is still more awkward than I'd like. I am hoping that new web apps will improve this functionality. I don't write a ton of email on either device.
Texting: The Blackberry Pearl is the winner. I find the Blackberry SureType keyboard easier to use than the iPhone keyboard, which is surprising since the Blackberry shares each key for 2 letters, and uses intelligent programming to guess the correct spelling. Pressing a physical, tactile key is still more important to me than having a key dedicated to each letter on the smooth iPhone screen. I have been practicing, but the iPhone typing interface still makes me feel like a chimp who hasn't evolved yet.
The bottom line: The iPhone is an amazing, attractive device, but I wonder how many people will be able to use it for their sole mobile contact. On a daily basis I use my Blackberry number as the phone number I give out to people who need to get in touch with me personally on an urgent basis. I almost always bring my Blackberry with me even if I have my iPhone along as well.
However, I see much potential in the iPhone, especially as an element at the center of a virtual office. I am starting a new nonprofit that provides on-site training. We don't have a physical storefront location or office with an assistant on call. I am dedicating the iPhone voice mail to this new endeavor. That way, we can give out one phone number that will reach the person in charge, whether I am at my home office or at a remote location. And I can pass the iPhone to a colleague when they are "on duty" rather than me.
Such flexibility can be key for budding entrepreneurs who have busted out of the office box and use a combination of websites and mobile technologies to pull together a virtual team.