The first thing I do when using a new cellphone is get to know it as well as possible. I delve into the depths of its interface in an attempt to familiarize myself with all of its features and functionality. With “normal” phones I have used such as the Nokia N95 or the Samsung F480 (not comparing the two), this task can take up to a week. Ever since I started using my BlackBerry Bold, which is around 3 months ago, I have been trying to get to know the device, and the learning curve is not over yet. I am discovering new things about the Bold almost every day, some good and some very bad.
Anyone who knows me personally, or has observed my practices when it comes to gadgets and technology, knows that I pay attention to small details. As you know, I recently began using a Blackberry Bold as my primary handset, and all in all, I am very happy with it. I wrote about my first impressions and why I am not trading it in for an iPhone. I wrote about my issues with RIM as a company and with Blackberry as a phone, but I felt a strong need to emphasize one serious issue with RIM’s offering.
I am happy to report that after putting social media to the ultimate test, it passed, but unfortunately Cellcom did not. OK, here is the story. After writing that last blog post about how horrific Cellcom’s service has been, and after attempting to speak to a manager for months, I finally got the call. It did not take long, in fact it was around a half an hour after the post was published that I got a call from a senior manager in Cellcom apologizing for the whole ordeal and offering me a “new” phone for “free”.
With 2008 coming to an end and the fact that I have been asked countless times by friends what phone to buy, I figured I would try to offer some information on what I think are the all around most impressive cellular phones to date.
Before I start, let me say that this is just my opinion, and there is no real way to determine the absolute best handset. Also, I am going to try to categorize the phones based on your needs and what kind of user you are.
Let me also say that there is a huge marketing aspect to all of this. For example, the N95 was marketed so well, that people think that it is still one of the best phones, when in reality it is far from being in the same category as the phones I am going to discuss. So, I am trying to ignore marketing and hype and stick to the specs and user reviews when listing these phones.
Blackberry Bold: It is extremely uncommon to find a phone that has no negative reviews. The Bold is one of those phones, which is very interesting, considering that its successor, the Storm is one of the few phones that has only negative reviews. Obviously, the Bold is aimed at the business sector, with its RIM push mail and amazing full QWERTY keyboard. However, besides its lacking media options, it can serve as some serious competition for the less business-oriented phones out there.
The specs are pretty unbeatable with every possible connectivity option built in. That includes HSDPA or 3.5G, which is the fastest cellular internet connection available. Wifi, GPS, and just in case, the Bold has an EDGE connection. It has a 2mp camera with a flash, but the pictures look leagues above those taken with the 2mp camera on the Curve. The battery did really well in all the tests and the Bold also offers A2DP or stereo bluetooth, enabling you to listen to your music, no strings attached.
The interface is supposedly one of the best out there, and offers the best Blackberry user experience by far. One thing I really love about the Bold is that it syncs with iTunes.
If I had to choose things I do not love about the Bold, I would say that it could be a little smaller and thinner. The camera could be a little better and a few gigs of built in memory would have made it the perfect phone.Nokia E71: Aimed at the same type of user as the Bold, the E71 impressed me from the first second that I held it. The pictures really do not do it justice. Instead of repeating everything I said about the Bold, let me just list the differences. For starters, the E71 is much smaller and thinner. The camera is better and so is the battery. Oh, and it is at least $300 cheaper than the Bold. Sounds like a no brainer right? Not so fast.
The E71 runs on Symbian and if you look hard enough, you can find many reviews that include negative comments about the E71’s interface. I played around with it, and definitely thought it needed some work. Let me give you an example before all the Symbian fanboys jump down my throat. If you want to pair a Bluetooth device like a headset for example, and you navigate to the Bluetooth menu via Settings, which is where it is generally located, you will not be able to pair the device. However, if you navigate to the same Bluetooth menu via Connectivity, the paring tab will show up. I don’t know about you, but I do not think there should be two ways of getting to the same menu, especially when one of the options does not include all the available tabs.So, here is where your needs come in. If you need a smaller phone with a better camera, get the E71. If you want a smoother user experience with the famous seamless Blackberry experience, get the Bold. Whichever one you decide, you will not be disappointed, they are both extremely impressive phones.
iPhone 3G: I know you are very disappointed to see the iPhone 3G on the list, and you are probably thinking, “Enough already”, but it is not for no reason that almost every review of every phone, includes the question, “how does it compare to the iPhone”? The iPhone’s user experience is still with no competition. There have been phones that came close, like phones that use HTC’s Touch Flo, but none of them are really there. We all know by now what the iPhone does, so let me talk a little about what it does not do. Look at its shortcomings and decide if these are things you can live without.
The iPhone does not allow you to copy/paste any text. You cannot take a picture and send it to another phone, no MMS capabilities. You cannot listen to your music wirelessly, no stereo bluetooth. You cannot take a picture at night, no flash. You cannot take a video clip, no video camera. You cannot view a site with Java or flash, it is not supported by the iPhone. You cannot make video calls, no secondary camera. You cannot edit any Office document, no Office editor. Finally, you cannot put a memory card in to expand the memory, no memory card slot.
Having said all of that, I think the iPhone’s offerings overpower its shortcomings, by far. I am not going to bore you with the details, but to highlight two things I just love about the iPhone, its interface is nothing short of genius and revolutionary, and the app store makes you forget that you cannot copy and paste (as well as everything else on that list).
I am not going to tell you which of the above phones is the best, because it really depends on your needs. To sum it up in two sentences, if you want seamless email use in a beautiful but large device, the Bold is for you. If you want a smaller device with a better battery and camera, that will meet your business needs, but might take a few seconds more, get the E71. If you are more of a private consumer that wants a phone you will love and never want to put down, even with its multiple disadvantages, get the iPhone 3G.