5 BlackBerry Issues I Would Not Have On An iPhone

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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.

9700 vs. 9000

9700 vs. 9000

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.


  • Apps, Apps, Apps: If you have not picked up on this trend yet, let me give you a little awakening, no one cares about hardware anymore. Thin is not cool anymore. In fact, I love my Bold, and as much as I love the way it looks, its size and its very plastic feel would not make it in the era of the RAZR and other cool looking phones. Today’s mobile arena is dominated by software. How many apps are available for the device, how easy are they to install, and of course, how good are the actual apps in terms of user experience? Do I even need to go on? I think it is pretty safe to say that the biggest winner of the app competition is Apple with its 2 Billion downloads and 100,000 apps. If Apple is the biggest winner, I am pretty sure RIM is the biggest loser. Symbian still dominates the globe in terms of users and there are also tens of thousands of apps available to download. I do not know the exact numbers, but the Android market is also growing nicely both in terms of quantity and quality. RIM on the other hand, does not even offer its App World globally, so anyone outside of the few select countries cannot access it. There are some useful sites to find BlackBerry apps, but the vast majority of them are very expensive and can and should never be compared to iPhone apps in terms of usability. The truth is I have any app I need on my Bold, a great Twitter app, Facebook, IM, and some other cool toys, but being the geek that I am, I want more options, and there are none.


  • 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.


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Hillel Fuld is a global speaker, entrepreneur, journalist, vlogger, and leading startup advisor. He brings over a decade of marketing experience with leading Israeli and Silicon Valley startups, and currently collaborates with many global brands in an official marketing capacity including Google, Oracle, Microsoft, Huawei, and others.      Hillel covers the dynamic local tech scene for many leading publications including Entrepreneur magazine, Inc, TechCrunch, Mashable, The Next Web, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Venturebeat, and others. Additionally, Hillel mentors startups across Israel in different accelerators including The Google Launchpad, the Microsoft Ventures accelerator, Techstars, The Junction, and more.    Hillel has been named Israel’s top marketer, 7th top tech blogger worldwide, has been featured on CNBC, Inc, and was dubbed by Forbes as “The Man Transforming Startup Nation into Scale-up Nation”.       Hillel has hundreds of thousands of followers across the social web and can be found on Twitter at @Hilzfuld. You can learn more about him on his website: www.hilzfuld.com


16 thoughts on “5 BlackBerry Issues I Would Not Have On An iPhone

  1. I still haven’t decided whether or not I’m going to get a Blackberry or iPhone (or a different smart phone). I’m waiting for iPhone to come to Israel to make my decision. I know that iPhone has a ton of apps, but how many apps do I need? The Blackberry store has over 4,000. I’m sure that they cover my needs. My kids have iPod Touches, and the games are really cool, but I don’t have time for them (the games, not my kids 🙂 ).

  2. iPhone is more than a mail machine. if mail is your thing, wait that RIM get their act together re gmail. but if you’d like to have a device that make your life easier, productive and fun, iphone is the way to go.

  3. Thanks guys, Rena, how do you access the BB App World? Kfir, so, let me get this straight, you think I should get an iPhone? 🙂 Anyway, I will wait and make a decision when it finally makes Aliyah…

  4. I have a BlackBerry 7290, it always be the best email device. I able subscribe to GMail and almost every email in the world. It is an old brick but it is more useful then other new gadgets today. The only thing I hate the most is memory issue. The old brick take longer time to load an email or SMS while my inbox getting larger. You know all emails and SMS come into one place for old BlackBerry, Inbox. Anyway, this can be resolved by clearing the inbox everyday. Another issue is when your phone book getting larger and larger, the BlackBerry unable to locate your contact name for incoming call. It always appears “Unknown Number”. That is the most frustrated thing I ever encountered.

    I replaced my old brick with BlackBerry Pearl. That even worst now. I could not list down any worked features that I like for Pearl. I know there is a great leap for BlackBerry 7290 to BlackBerry Pearl 8110. But.. it is the most unstable phone I ever encounter, even my old junk, Nokia 3310 better than it is. The BB Pearl get restarted everytime it encounter an error. I wiped the phone and reinstall it with the new OS downloaded from BlackBerry website. It getting even worst, it restart itself for no reason until the battery almost dry, the network signal down, then it stop.

    I really fed-up with BlackBerry devices. I wonder they should fully tested the device before release it to the market. Nowadays phone is the most important device for people around the world. It is like a walkie-talkie for an army in the war. Imagine what if the walkie-talkie by Motorola malfunction in the middle of the War? It is either you get kill, or lose the whole battle, the country got conquer, citizen get suffer. From my experience with 2 BB I have, BB really unstable. It goes wrong when you really need it, either it show “Unknown Number”, or it reboot itself with no reason.

    I am not going to give any further advice, but please think twice before you want to get a cool BB for yourself.

  5. Bottom line is the Blackberry’s are great for email, and as with Blackberry’s forever – pretty much weak and middling on everything else. So if you really, really want email and typing on a keyboard above all else – get a Blackberry. The iPhone email works fine for me and the AI typing is smart enough to figure out words you type often and is not idiotic (it does not try and correct common shorttypes like UR …). And of course, the store is brilliant- not just 85,000 apps but movies, tv shows, podcasts, music, etc, etc … the apps are great. Yes, BB has a few thousand apps but besides calculators and corporate apps -dullsville while the iphone apps are interesting and useful (AND CHEAPER) … All the Flight tracking apps are under $10 at the iphone store while most in the BB store are $20+ … And after it’s all over – whatgood is an old BB? While just slide the setting to airplane mode and you have a wifi itouch with full access to the store and itunes. So, bottom line – BB great for email and if corporate is buying it for you. iphone – much more useful overall and more intersting as it has about 1,000 more options.

    And as for the “locked” thing – not sure what you mean as the Blackberry is locked to THEIR SERVER to get emails and whileit can load apps, it’s a lot fewer and way lss elegant.

  6. Jbelkin, thanks for the feedback, seems like you are pretty happy with your iPhone. Menachem, not sure what you mean but I do not think those things are related.

  7. Since I work from home the email thing doesn’t bother be too much. I wish the camera on my Curve was better (but I did opt for a cheaper phone) and I wish the BBerry app world let you search or sort by rating or price. Otherwise it was the monthly cost of the BBerry vs iPhone that made the choice for me. Are thousands of apps worth another $20-30 a month? For me that was a big no!

  8. I think you should stick with Blackberry if you consider the Apple approach a prison. It is a matter of values, and yours do not appear to match Apple’s. Really, Apple’s way is not for everyone. Traditionally, it has had its greatest appeal for people who find freedom — freedom FROM choice — in the very policies that you find restrictive. I have already made the switch you’re contemplating and I love my iPhone, but then again, I have never thought of it as a prison.

  9. I have a G1 and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Tons of apps? Check! Touch screen? Check! Flip out keyboard? Check! (Sorry, but typing on a touch screen keyboard is a pain in the neck!) 3G? GPS? WiFi? Check! Check! Check!

    Gmail? well, duh!

    All of my Google stuff is integrated seamlessly onto my phone. I never have to worry about losing my contacts’ information if something happens to my phone again. And my calendar? Same, same.

    Getting around in the US was so easy with Google Maps and the GPS. Just press “directions” then choose “my location” for the starting point, and wherever you are going as the end point. You get text and map directions just like that. (It’s a bit harder here in Israel where we have no street names in the maps. What’s up with THAT, Google?)

    But, oo… my favorite thing of ALL? Google Sky. At night when I’m outside, I can point my phone at the sky and know exactly what stars and what stars and constellations I’m looking at. You can even point it at the ground and see what stars you’d be looking at if you *could* see through the Earth. (I’m such a dork, I know…)

  10. OK Lisha, that sounds really awesome, seriously, but the G1? Really? Do the looks not bother you a little with sexy phones out there like the iPhone or the Bold? Anyway, happy you like it, and there is def what to be said for Android, but I think there is still way to go before it is on the level…

  11. I spend a lot of time using both a Blackberry Curve and an iPhone, and while the iPhone wins on most counts I have to say that the Gmail experience is better on the Curve.

    I use Gmail for personal email and Google Apps for work, so I care about getting it right. I tried the native implementation on the BB, including the Gmail advanced plugin, and agree with you that lack of synchronization between the mobile and web inbox is a dealbreaker for me. I use the Google client. That polls the network instead of using push, but it’s still dramatically superior to any other mobile implementation of Gmail that I have used, including the iPhone. (Just because Gmail has a *version* of their client available for many other phones does not mean that it’s the same experience on all phones.) It’s fast, it takes full advantage of the Curve’s great screen (the Bold is even better), it emulates all the BB email keyboard shortcuts and adds shortcuts for archiving and switching between multiple inboxes. (One stupid problem – it ignores HTML links.)

    On the iPhone, you are stuck with Apple’s email client. Three touches to delete an email, four to archive, four to switch between inboxes – these are all 1 click operations on my BB. It drives me insane, and the full HTML support and push can’t compensate.

    The other big problem with the iPhone is that no one, including Gmail, can build a better email client, because Apple won’t let them – one of dozens of limitations on developers. I don’t want to make too much of this, because there are ten times as many apps for the iPhone as there are for the BB, and many of them are wonderful, but as a developer the restrictions are really frustrating.

    BTW, found your blog because I am the CEO of Skydeck. Please write to me – I want to debug your problem.


  12. Jason, thanks so much for that very informative comment, will definitely take it into account when deciding whether to give the Bold for an iPhone. Anyway, as for your product, I think the issue was that I synced the phone after making changes but then the phone synced with my Gmail contacts (Google Sync) and reversed all the changes… Might not have been your fault. However, when I look at my background apps (Switch Application), I see your app but attempting to click it, results in my phone freezing… Need to fix this somehow… Will contact you directly, but in theory, would love to write a piece on your app, good stuff.

  13. You should do a rebuttal article: 5 iPhone Issues I wouldn’t have on a a Blackberry. I’ve used both devices, and they both have their annoyances, but they also both do certain things really well. In the end, I went with a BlackBerry/iPod Touch combo. I know it’s 2 devices, but I don’t have to choose between entertainment vs. battery conservation so I can talk on my phone. Point is, both of these configurations have made me grit my teeth, but they both get the job done.

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