16 November 2008

Decisions, Decisions: iPhone, Storm, or G1?

How's this for ruining a Christmas surprise?

My wife and I are going to get each other smart phones for Christmas. The only problem is: we have no idea which one. I've been set on buying an iPhone since the 3G was announced, but we were already locked into a Verizon contract and chose to wait it out to avoid the early termination fees.

A lot has happened since then.

First, the T-Mobile G1 powered by Google was launched. This little device is very cool, boasting wi-fi access, location detection, the Android operating system, 3G network, and the Android Market for add-on applications. It also sports a full QWERTY keyboard that slides out from underneath the screen.

Then, the Blackberry Storm was announced. The Storm does a lot of what the iPhone can, and allows my wife and I to stay with Verizon (and, hopefully, take advantage of further price discounts through the "new every two" program). What I LOVE about this phone is the prospect of a "clickable" touchscreen. I have fat fingers, and the few times I've used an iPhone/iPod Touch I have had quite an annoying time with their "virtual" keypad. There is absolutely no way this phone will attract the types of apps that the iPhone and G1 will, I realize, but Blackberry has a strong reputation for its useful out-of-the-box application package.

So here I am. A little over a month from making quite an expensive decision, and I am more confused than ever. I love the iPhone. I'm a huge music fan, and have become somewhat of an Apple fanboy. But the iPhone keypad may be its Achilles heal for me. The G1's physical keypad and the Storm's "clickable" twist on the touchscreen may be enough to sway me away from a device that otherwise (well, besides its camera) seems to be a very solid choice. The prices attached to these three options are very similar, so really the decision is going to boil down to the above considerations and recommendations from people like you.

So, which one would you choose? This is a very expensive purchase, and I don't want to choose incorrectly. Thanks for your help.

10 comments:

Tim McAlpine said...

iPhone. It's now on version 2 and a very solid platform with a year's worth of headway. I listened to a recent MacBreak Weekly. Leo Laporte put the iPhone aside and used the G1 for two weeks and came back. Said the Android phone wasn't there yet and the apps just weren't as good. He also says he has fat fingers and doesn't like the iPhone keyboard.

He's got a Storm on order, so listen to his take over the next few weeks on TWIT, MacBreak Weekly and his other podcasts before making your choice.

BTW - I just typed this on my iPod Touch - it's actually pretty easy.

Gene Blishen said...

Great question and a lot in the choosing is personal preference.

The keyboard question. I had difficulty at first but now have no problem typing. The larger keyboard (horizontal screen) was much easier and still is but somehow I prefer the smaller (vertical screen) keypad. There are some neat features with the keypad that are software driven which brings up the next point.

The software. This is were I think the iPhone shines. Features upgrade when a new version is released. And the software available for this device is fast becoming massive. The ability to view and choose software is a big plus. If you have the SDK you can also write and deploy software yourself. It seems to be a much more open system in that regard.

The phone itself. The voicemail is worth its weight in gold. I never have to repeat the whole message just to get that phone number that is never recognizable the first time. It brings a new level to cell phones. You will love the cell phone keypad, guaranteed.

We purchased an iPhone for every staff member some of whom had a blackberry. After 3 months usage you couldn't take those iPhones away. One staff member is leaving us and is making sure she can make some sort of arrangement to keep the iPhone.

Mac integration. IF you use a Mac the integration is seamless. If you have a Mobile Me account it moves it up to another level.

As to data usage because you can automatically hook up to known WiFi sources you tend to use the telephones 3G and E function must less than expected. No one on staff has come even close to using the alloted bandwidth.

Now the downside. Battery life. You will get a full day out of it but no more. That would mean calls an d 3G usage. I picked up a Macally device that recharges your iPhone remotely. No worry now about lack of phone use because of a dead battery.

It isn't the perfect device, nothing ever is. It just works well, has never let me down, seems to always get better as you find out how things work. I admit I am an Apple cheerleader here. What is the best part of this though is this is just the start of the Smartphone cycle. What do you think it will look like in 5 years? Good luck on your choice.

Matt, the Credit Union Warrior said...

Tim and Gene: Thank you so much for your feedback! I truly believe that if I end up with an iPhone, I will be very pleased. My clunky fingers scare me a little with that keypad, though. What I'm going to try to do for the next month or so is "practice" with some demo models so I can get a better feel for how big this touchscreen typing issue would be for me. For a thousand other reasons, I'm tempted to go with the iPhone.

Quick and important side note: I just checked out T-Mobile's coverage in my area. This has made me all but rule out buying the G1. This is a shame because I really like what I saw with the demo. No 3G, though, means no G1.

Mike Templeton said...

I'll agree with both of the guys above. I have fairly large hands (and fingers) and was very scared about the iPhone virtual keyboard, but once you start using the phone it becomes very easy. The auto-correct feature also helps a lot, as it will pick up on you typing "rgua" and translate it to "this" (one letter over on each). This feature makes the rare case of clumsiness that may appear rather insignificant.

I played with a friend's G1 a few weeks ago and liked it, but I'm not sure I could go back to a real keyboard these days. Plus, the level of development on the iPhone is through the roof right now.

I say stick to being an Apple-fanboy and go with the iPhone.

Mark said...

Matt,

Buy the iphones. If you were just getting it for yourself I may not be so hard lined, but the "my wife and I" part of the story is what makes me yell "iphone"

Back in the McSpadden blackberry days, Mark thought it would be a great idea to get his wife a Blackberry Pearl. Now, with two Blackberrys the McSpaddens could communicate seamlessly through voice, sms, email and never get lost with the built in maps. Boy was I wrong.

Even after setting up the Pearl for Shevawn, the interface was way too cluttered and clunky for her to feel like this was a piece of technology worth trying to master. She used it for voice and a little sms.

Then we moved to the iphone. After setting up her email, I haven't touched the phone since and she uses the mess out of it. First, the basics (voice, email, sms, map, ipod) are so easy to find and use that anyone can pick it up and within 10 minutes be doing what my wife never learned in 6 months as a blackberry user.

Next, the app store allows for gradually adding more functionality as needed. So if my wife says something about needing to do measurement conversions at the store, I just say "There's an app for that, Units." and if she wants to go get it she can.

The Storm may have greatly improved the Blackberry OS, but as a family device, the iphone wins hands down for me.

Also, on the "family" note, we share a single mobileme account ($100/year) and unlike some of the horror stories on the interwebs, have loved it. It allows us to keep our address books and calendars synced via our phones and our Macs. (I think it works with outlook too.)

What I'm beginning to learn more and more is that family technology purchases are less and less about the technology and more and more about how they facilitate family interaction.

Matt, the Credit Union Warrior said...

Mike: Interesting input on the G1. Embarrassing truism: I've sent like 5 text messages in my entire life. Although that probably destroys all Gen Y cred my age would indicate I should have, it does start me with a pretty clean keypad preference slate.

Mark: That angle make a lot of sense. My wife isn't a huge "gadget" person. If the iPhone simplifies her life, I have no doubt it will simplify mine. While, it should probably be pointed out that both the G1 and the Storm are likely very user-friendly - Apple's reputation on that front is well-documented (and experienced).

Winter Prosapio said...

Did you know you can... use the iphone on other networks? I mean if you know somebody... er, well maybe I should stop right there...

Matt, the Credit Union Warrior said...

@winter I'd totally be open to jailbreaking the thing... Losing the warranty is one thing, missing out on AT&T's 3G network is another. Not sure it would be worth it.

But if you know someone that knows someone... :)

CDub said...

I'd go with the Blackberry Storm if you'e staying with Verizon. I heard people have been underwhelmed by the google phone.I have AT&T so I'm on the verge of buying an iPhone. I love my Blackberry I have now though, and would love it even more if it were touch screen. So I vote STORM,

Mark said...

PS. The big boy reviews are out on the storm:

http://www.engadget.com/2008/11/19/blackberry-storm-review/

http://www.boygeniusreport.com/2008/11/20/verizon-blackberry-storm-review/

Also: NO WIFI? Didn't realize that. :(