I have to say, I am really torn on this issue. I change my mind every day. Basically, I love the Bold and it pretty much gives me anything and everything I need from a phone. I use Twitter and Facebook regularly with both apps running in the background and fully integrated into my Bold’s messaging system. That means I am notified about every new reply or DM immediately as well as any Facebook event I choose to know about. The GPS on the Bold is blazing fast and picks up the satellite within seconds. The email system is unprecedented in its convenience, in fact, it is leaves you so connected at all times that I actually turn it off sometimes, to disconnect, something I never thought I would want to do.
The keyboard is absolutely amazing, I find myself sitting in front of my computer and typing out emails on the BlackBerry. The Bold’s screen never ceases to amaze me and is by far the most impressive part of the device. I love the way you can fully configure exactly how you are notified about any and every event on the BlackBerry. You can configure the phone to vibrate once with a certain ringtone when you receive an email to your personal account, and vibrate twice with a different ringtone for your work account.
The bottom line is, I can go on for a lot longer with reasons why I love my Bold, but here is where I tell you the reasons I hate it. There are many problems that I am willing to overlook since they are overshadowed by the advantages. These include the size of the Bold, which RIM apparently knows about, since the new Bold 9700 is significantly smaller, as well as others. There are, however, some things I have discovered over my few month period with the Bold that might just be deal breakers for me. Now, here is the thing, the only phone I would consider replacing it with is the iPhone, but the iPhone too has some major disadvantages. There is the whole non replaceable battery issue, which combined with the iPhone’s mediocre battery, is a serious problem for heavy users like myself.
The iPhone also does not support background apps, which is the reason I did not get one till now, but with almost all apps that matter to me supporting push notifications, this might not matter as much anymore. Another issue I have with Apple and the iPhone is their jail-like philosophy. Everything about the iPhone smells like I am in prison. Every app needs to be approved by Apple, the iPhone can only work with iTunes, the OS is completely closed with no real customization options available, and the iPhone gives users zero access to its core infrastructure. Now, it is true that most of these issues are overcome by at least one of the 100,000 apps available for the iPhone, but I still want my iPhone to feel like a mobile device not a prison.
OK, enough babbling, here are the reasons I am now strongly considering replacing my BlackBerry with an iPhone:
- Gmail (or lack thereof): This is by far my biggest issue. I love my Gmail and would not replace it with any other Web mail service. When I originally went BlackBerry, it was clear to me that this device, which is apparently the world’s most advanced email machine, will work seamlessly with the world’s most advanced and popular email service. Boy was I wrong. For starters, the BlackBerry, by default, sets up your Gmail account as PoP and not IMAP. After you managed to hack the settings and get IMAP enabled, it is only half IMAP. What I mean is that to my utter surprise and disappointment, Gmail and BlackBerry do not sync in both directions. So, when I am at my computer and archive or delete a message from my inbox, the message is not deleted on the BlackBerry. The IMAP only works in one direction and what is deleted on the phone automatically disappears on the Web inbox within seconds. This is a HUGE (I do not capitalize words for emphasis very often, so you know I must mean it :)) disappointment, and through a simple Google search I found that it is also one that is driving other BlackBerry users nuts as well.
- No Folders! Really?: This is of course directly related to the lack of IMAP support, but even if RIM cannot support IMAP for whatever reason, they need to support email folders. I know that with BES, this is no issue and everything syncs perfectly, but with BIS, folders are completely not supported. Now, let me just say, I am learning new things every day about the BlackBerry, so it could be that I indeed missed this, but as far as I can tell, there is no way to view your sent items, your received items, or your archived items separately. Now I know that the Gmail Advanced Plugin was recently released but that does not help me with this issue. The folders are still absent and the added archive feature is only available if you use the email account icon and not the messages one. Like I have said on many occasions, I do not need a BlackBerry if my email experience is similar to that of an old non smartphone. For this exact reason, I refuse to use the Gmail app. The app, while solving the IMAP and folders issue, works on every old device and does not give you the email experience RIM is famous for, and for which I bought the Bold in the first place. I also have to add that the iPhone did not offer real push mail until recently, so now that it has full Gmail push, it just became a more practical option for me.
- Application Memory: I guess this is a direct result of the last bullet. Maybe RIM figured that since there are no good apps available anyway, no point in building the device with a lot of memory to install apps. Whatever the case, the Bold comes with a total memory of 128 MB, from which the OS takes a good 60, leaving you with a total capacity to install apps of less than 70 MB. Does that sound like a flagship device of one of the world’s leading smartphone companies? On an average day, I have less than 30 MB of free application memory, something that slows down the device significantly. Now I am no mobile developer, but I cannot imagine it is so difficult to enable users to install apps on the phone’s 1 GB of storage or even better, on the SD card. I know memory is not the same as storage, but still. If this is not possible, then where did RIM come up with the 128 number? Why not a gig? I could be missing something here, but in any case, the Bold does not come with nearly enough memory for anyone who wants to install a nice amount of apps. This is of course in total contrast to the iPhone, which is an extreme app machine, not to mention that the iPhone might have actually passed in the era when hardware mattered.
- No Touch: OK before you yell at me, let me explain. I am not saying that touch screens are always better than regular screens. What I am saying is that if I had a dime for every person that played with my BlackBerry, and began by running their finger across the screen, I would be a whole lot richer today. The Bold’s screen is just that good, it begs for your touch. Now, I know that the BlackBerry’s huge advantage over other phones including the iPhone is its keyboard, I love my Bold’s keyboard. Having said that, there is something just intuitive and natural about touching the screen when you are talking about a display like the Bold’s. I am pretty sure RIM will not agree and we will never see a Bold-like device with a similar keyboard and a touch screen, but a man can dream, right? I know there is the Storm, but I am not even going there…. Read the reviews, then come back and talk to me. 🙂 The Storm 2 is coming out soon and the initial reviews are amazing, so there is always that option, but if I am going touch and giving up on the keyboard, I am looking at the people who revolutionized touch, and not the ones who jumped on the bandwagon a year later.
These are 5 things that are pushing me in the direction of Apple, but with the Bold’s many advantages over the iPhone, if the rumors of IMAP coming to BlackBerry soon are true, you can be sure I am sticking with my Bold. If however, RIM continues with their stubbornness and refuses to take their customers’ Gmail and user experience into account, I am most definitely going to look to the company that is synonymous with top notch user experience, and hope Apple comes through for me.