Storm Rumbles Across iPhone Plains

Well, the Blackberry Storm is finally here. I've had a chance to use both and here's my honest assessment of the Blackberry Storm compared with the iPhone. I know, you're probably wondering how I know what an iPhone is like after all the ranting I've done about Apple and it's black box iPhone and socialistic company behaviors towards end users. Well, I actually have both a Blackberry Storm and an iPhone. The Storm is now my main smartphone that I will use going forward. I also have an iPhone because one of my companies is developing an iPhone app and I need it both because I design the user interface (so I have to know how to design for the iPhone interface) and I need the device to show users that app. Plus I use the iPhone as a glorified iPod, something it's really good at, btw. I don't use the iPhone as my phone, something it's not as good at.

In rating the two devices against each other, I tried to chose as many relevant categories that pertain to usability and utility of the two smartphones as possible. I also decided there'd be no ties; that I would always only give one device a green check and the other a red X for each category. Some selections are factually cut and dry, and others are purely subjective or too early to call when it comes to the Storm. Here's how they both came out:

Storm: Touch Screen. The Blackberry Storm's tactile touch screen requires a push (vs. surface tap) to select items on the screen. Many online reviews have panned this feature but I LOVE it. It's more akin to what a Blackberry user is used to. Selections highlight in blue when you touch them and then you press the screen to take the action. This is especially helpful when using the keyboard, which won' t require the same learning curve as the iPhone. The Storms screen is also more pixel dense and is very sharp. So don't listen to those iPhone users who say the touch screen is bad on the Storm. They're just used to something else. I think Blackberry users will love the Storm's touch screen. It will also help prevent those "pocket dials" I keep getting from my iPhone buddies.

iPhone: Multi-Touch and Web Browsing. The Storm lacks multi-touch, something the iPhone has had from the beginning and makes applications like web browsing very easy, especially zooming into and reading a web page. I really like the multi-touch aspects of the iPhone and miss it already on the Storm. The iPhone gets the nod here since Storm is missing multi-touch.

Storm: Phone, Keyboard, Battery, and Expandability. These are the things I've been ranting about against the iPhone. My smartphone better first be a great quality phone. The rest of the things it does comes second. A family member with an iPhone tells me, "I don't mind my iPhone being such a crappy quality phone. Just means a lot less calls to bother me." That can't happen for me and my business. I've had smartphones that were lousy phones and that's no fun, matter of fact I hated it. They got 86'd pretty quick. The iPhone still has its problems with phone quality, and it looks like RIM has done a good job delivering a quality phone in the Storm. Storm also has a full QWERT keyboard, something I know will make a big difference in usability. I still struggle with Apple's clumsy keyboard interface.  The battery life appears to be longer on the Storm (partially because of no Wi-Fi) and the battery's replaceable. Most importantly, you don't need to go buy another Storm if you want to up the capacity of the device. Bravo on a device that's expandable. Winner, Storm.

Storm: Network. Let's face it, AT&T doesn't have the same quality network Verizon does. EVDO is faster than 3G. Plus the Storm can go international with its support for other international cellular and data networks.  That's one of the reasons I had a Blackberry world edition. Bottom line, the Storm's on a better network.

iPhone: Wi-Fi and great apps. Though it drains the battery, Wi-Fi on the iPhone is very handy. The Storm opted not to include Wi-Fi, which is a mistake in my book. I would have liked to have had it. This is a big winning issue for the iPhone. The other is Apple's App Store. Blackberry has announced its own storefront and it'll likely catch up with Apple in the apps department.  But for now, Apple's got one up on this part of the vote.

Storm: Picture messages, Cut-&-Paste, camera, video and enterprise integration. Picture messages and Cut-&-Paste are two big gaps in the iPhone's feature set. But the Storm has them. The Storm has a stellar 3.2Mpixel camera that also has image stablization and does video. And while Apple's still trying to figure out what enterprise integration is, Blackberry's solved those problems many moons ago. The Storm won't cause your IT guy to think a second thought about supporting it. Advantage, Blackberry Storm in a big way.

Bottom line, iPhone users will find they don't like the Storm because of the press feature of the touch interface. They're used to an easier operating screen interface. Users new to the Storm who don't have the biases of using an iPhone will probably put a lot less credence on this issue.  If you wanted an iPhone, you probably already have one, or mom and dad are getting you one for Christmas. For business users and everyone else, I think the Storm will do very well and give Apple a significant run for its money in the marketplace.

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