Why I gave up my Blackberry Bold (and Palm Pre) for the iPhone 3GS

I am probably not the typical phone user.  I rely on my device for a ton of things throughout the day and night, anywhere from email, maps, news, shopping, entertainment, and, of course calling people.  My Blackberry 8800 and then Bold served me well in all these functions – I used their integrated email, Google Maps, Viigo, Amazon App, the camera, UberTwitter, Facebook, and more, all at least once a day.  When the iPhone initially came out, I thought it was a cool toy, but nothing that could replace my daily needs.  Once the SDK was released, I started to grow a bit envious.  Cool apps were developed left and right.  I needed to buy an iPod Touch to help satisfy my gadget needs.

A couple things kept me excited about Blackberry – their App Store and OS5.  I thought here was a chance for Blackberry to demonstrate their full potential.  The Bold was a fairly powerful device when utilized to it’s max (see Google Maps, Vlingo, Amazon, Shazam apps), so it seemed like it could be somewhat competitive.  The problem is that Blackberry was originally built as a messaging device, targeted at enterprises, with lots of security built-in.  They did a good job of building a platform around it, but it wasn’t scalable.

Then the App Store came around – which tried to imitate Apple’s.  Soon after, OS5 pictures leaked out.  Here was a chance to even the playing field – and they didn’t come close.  The app store made installing apps easier (though you needed to know how to download the App Store app ironically), but OS5 looked just like 4.6, 4.2, etc, with some additional features.  They’ve tried to woo developers (see Blackberry Fund), but it hasn’t really worked.  The reason is not lack of devices- there are many more Blackberries in the market than iPhones.  It’s that from everything I hear and see, it’s not easy to develop on Blackberry.  From the poorly documented API, large number of models, different versions of OS’s, etc, it’s just tough to manage.  And it doesn’t seem to be getting better (BGR wrote a great piece on this).

The one advantage I always thought I’d have over the iPhone was phone service quality.  But once calls started dropping (quite an understatement), I decided to give the Palm Pre on Sprint a try.  Knowing I could return the device within 30 days, I went out and bought a Pre.  My quick review-  it’s great product but needs to mature (and it will, in time).  webOS was awesome – they did a great job with the “cards” and multi-tasking.  I really liked how the mail and notifications popped on the bottom.  I liked how most things worked, although at times it felt a bit too cute.  Problem came down to the keyboard.  I did not like the keys – felt way to plasticky.  And I especially did not like how it slid out.  Everytime I needed to do something I had to flip out the keyboard – I felt like I was going to drop it and it just slowed things down.  It actually made me crave a virtual keyboard.  That’s when I decided to get the iPhone 3GS.

I’ve had it a couple days now, and I can’t imagine going back.  It’s weird, because I was once a hard core Blackberry user (convinced friends and family to get one).  But now – I’m going the other way.  If you can get over the lack of a physical keyboard (which isn’t terrible unless you write a ton of emails) and the non-removable battery (which wasn’t much worse than my Bold, though I carried a backup), there’s no comparison.  And while I still have nostalgia for my Bold keyboard and its build quality (mine survived a beating), if you crave features and functionality, the iPhone is the way to go.  Sorry, Blackberry.

FYI – I am long Apple, and have been for almost 2 years.

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