July 31, 2009

Summer Friday: Comparing Apples, Blackberries and... Prēs?

Every Friday between Memorial Day and Labor Day I'm going to be featuring "guest bloggers" as a part of my "Summer Fridays" series. This week's post comes from Pierce who walks us through three of the hottest smartphones and shares their pros and cons.

Picture this: you're in the middle of your family vacation in Washington, DC and your boss calls you demanding that you prepare a due diligence report that needs to be done before his afternoon conference call. Well, that's happening to me right now, except replace boss with Pat, due diligence report with blog entry, and conference call with Summer Friday post. I could have said, “What? I’m sorry, but you’re breaking up. Terrible recept---. [Hit End Call button],” but I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to compare the usefulness of the Blackberry, Palm Prē and iPhone in pinch situations when a laptop isn't available.

If you have a job, you’ve probably handled a Blackberry at one point another. It’s still the world’s most used smartphone. But how useful is it during a crisis the magnitude of a blog post? It’s appears not very. I mean, I’m sitting here typing this to you and it’s taking me forever to compose this sentence. Now, I know that some “Crackberry” addicts can zip along at about million words a minute, but my thumbs probably think I have brain damage right now, because thumbs are moving so slowly and creating enough typos to make a copy editor’s head spin. I was trying to access the Blackberry site and my brain pretty much said, “S to the D; Shut it down!” There’s nothing wrong with Blackberry’s browser per se, it’s just that the browser only loads a barebone site, which can be difficult to navigate. When in a rush, quick access to information is a must. Don’t even get me started with switching back and forth between applications, because I might end up throwing this phone at the nearest hobo.* What’s a Blackberry user to do?

Enter the iPhone. Now, I’m an iPhone user, but I hardly believe it’s the end all, beat all of phones. One of the biggest advantages the iPhone does have is that all of it's core software can now (only recently though) be composed in landscape mode. iPhone's landscape mode makes typing infinitely more comfortable and less typo prone than its portrait mode. The lack of a physical keyboard, while some people loathe, is appreciated. It takes some getting use to not having tactile feedback, but once you do, typing is a breeze (This only refers to landscape mode. Portrait mode is still the bane of my existence, even with my small fingers.). The iPhone’s browser pretty much revolutionized web browsing on a phone. It was like having your desktop internet browser with you at all times. The iPhone’s browser has pretty much forced every other mobile phone manufacturer to rethink their phone browser and that will benefit all of us. I cannot overlook one glaring feature that's missing from the iPhone: running multiple applications at the same time. I mean, c’mon! You’ve got a phone with a powerful processor and I can only have one app open at a time?! Now if the only smartphone you've used is an iPhone, you probably wouldn't notice it, but if you've used the Prē, this shortcoming will be quite obvious… and ridiculous. Closing an application and opening a new one is a sequence of touches that gets old really fast, especially when those applications are on different “pages”.

Now we come to the Palm Prē. I'm going to be up front about this, but I've been obsessed with the Palm Prē ever since my friend let me play with his phone. One concern I had with the Prē was typing on it's keyboard because of it diminutive size (compared to the Blackberry and the iPhone), but then I realized that I’m 5’6” and required to register with the Midget Registry Program. Typing on the keyboard was really easy. If you have ginormo thumbs, I suggest you hand it to your midget servant and have him type whatever you need. Like the iPhone, the Prē has a full browser, so doing quick research is a snap. One really intuitive feature is the search function, which starts as soon as you start typing in the menu area. It’ll give you different search options as well, so if you Yahoo!, you can still keep your outcast status while the cool kids at Google laugh at you. What stands out the most with the Prē is it's ability to have multiple applications open at the same time. Crazy idea, right? Switching between the email and internet apps is fast and simple. I mean, researching the Palm site and coming back to the email app to write this is extremely easy. I’d go as far as calling it refreshing.

With the proliferation of smartphones in the market, many people are becoming more connected than ever and that connection allows us to do more on the road than we probably want. But because of the fast paced world we live in now, we're expected to be able to do stuff outside of the office that only 5 years ago would require us to be in the office or at a laptop. So, if you’re a reporter for the New York Times, you’re probably going to bonkers if you only have a Blackberry and have a 5 pm deadline. If only you had an iPhone or Prē, then you, you poor bastard, might enjoy your assignment in Afghanistan.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to continue to wait in this line to see the Washington Monument. It seems size does matter. My sister and mom say hi.

P.S. If you haven’t noticed already, each descriptive paragraph on each device was composed on its respective phone.

* I was using a corporate Blackberry with version 4.2 software. Blackberry has released newer versions which may have given Blackberries more functionality. But like many of us, we use corporate devices, which companies are notorious for being slow to upgrade. And no hobos were harmed in the making of this post.

I'm a Crackberry users, but I totally have iPhone envy. If you'd like to write about something just email me and you might be the next Summer Friday blogger!