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Sleeping with the Enemy: BlackBerry v. iPhone, Part 1

Most of our readers have probably not read my bio. In it I reveal that I have been with the iPhone since the first day it came out. But over the past year Ronen has shown me the glory of Blackberry. At first, I felt a distant respect for Blackberry. But soon my wife converted to Blackberry-ism and I was fiddling with loaner Blackberries for reviews. Now that I have my own BlackBerry the inevitable time has come, to referee the war that has been raging for years–iPhone or BlackBerry?


The test: Over the next month I will carry a phone in each pocket, the iPhone 3G in one pocket and the Blackberry Curve 8530 Bold 9700 in the other pocket. I will consider each for their external properties, as well as for their functionality. Each week the phones will battle over a different feature–deciding a battle amongst the larger war. But when the dust settles, only the best smartphone will be crowned king. There can only be one…

Round 1: The Beauty Pageant

iPhone 3G: It is no secret that Apple prides itself on its design appeal as much as its product utility. So let’s see what they offer with the iPhone 3G.

  • Shape: What’s nice about the iPhone is that its a simple rectangle shape with rounded edges.
  • Materials: The shiny black plastic backing is matched with a similarly shiny metal rim and a glossy black capacitive screen in the front, giving you a shiny experience right out of the box. The problem with a shiny new toy however, is that it constantly has to be cleaned in order to maintain that shiny exterior. Thus, I find myself using my sleeve to clean the iPhone 3G multiple times a day. Other than that there is a minimalist logical consistency in the design with shiny metal buttons and toggles embedded in the side of the iPhone 3G and a shiny Apple Logo embedded into the plastic back.
  • Size/Weight: The iPhone is like an aging supermodel trying to hide a bulge. Unlike the original, the 3G wears the equivalent of a slimming black dress to hide its new hardware. Specifically, the new plastic backing is curved in a way that gives the eye an illusion of thinness, when in reality the bulkier hardware is concentrated in the upper back center of the device. With the added bulge comes added weight. The iPhone 3G weigh 4.7 ounces.

BB Bold 9700:  Unlike Apple, RIM has taken its time with design–starting out with more utilitarian devices and only recently focusing on the design aspect. So let’s see how they are doing.

  • Shape: The Bold 9700 is not a uniform shape. While it is a rectangular candy-bar shaped phone, the bottom of the phone has rounded edges while the top of the phone is more rectangular. But the shape works to differentiate the top and bottom of the device, which is a nice change.
  • Materials: The trim and top portion of the 9700 are made of a shiny plastic, giving you that same high class look as the iPhone 3G. But the black finish around the keys is a little less dramatic, keeping in line with the business mentality of the BlackBerry line. The side lining of the Bold is a protective rubber which is nice and helpful for gripping the Berry and to protect against light drops. What really stands out about the 9700 however, is the leather like backing, which is both durable and high end. By mixing matted plastic, shiny plastic and leather RIM has achieved the high end feeling of an Apple product but with a more professional touch.
    Size/Weight: While the Bold 9700 is slightly smaller in both height and width, it is slight thicker than the iPhone 3G. But in the end, the 9700 comes in a whole 0.4 ounces lighter than the 3G with an official weight of 4.3 ounces.


Winner? Bold by a hair: This was actually a really hard contest when staring at the two phones.

  • First Impression: I started by staring at both devices on my counter for countless hours. What I found more helpful was watching people pulling out either device on the subway. When a person pulled out an iPhone 3G, there was an instant shiny wow-factor. To put it in the visual terms, it was the equivalent of a sexy supermodel. When a person pulled out a Bold 9700, the first thing I thought of was utility and class. To put it in the visual terms, it was the equivalent of a well groomed business person in an expensive suit. The iPhone was simply all pizzaz, while the Bold was all class. Is class better than pizzaz? I just can’t decide.
  • Maintenance: What bothered me most about the iPhone 3G’s exterior was that its materials required a daily cleaning in order to maintain its shine and luster. In contrast, the Bold has a leather back and a rubber side, both of which do not require daily maintenance. In fact, the only part of the Bold needing a wiping down every so often is the screen, but that has to be done once a week at the maximum. Overall, the Bold was just a lower maintenance device, while the iPhone was more like the high maintenance supermodel girlfriend I envisioned it as earlier :)
  • Size/Weight: With the maintenance issue already pushing me towards the Bold, the size and weight difference cemented the deal. When carrying a phone in your pocket all day, a few ounces can really make all the difference. Moreover, when carrying a phone in each pocket all day, you can really start to feel the difference. In addition, compared to the larger iPhone, the slightly smaller frame of the Bold made me feel like it was more of a phone, which is important in this smartphone war.
  • Final Word: While, the Bold and iPhone are equally as impressive in design, the Bold wins for maintaining its class while staying low maintenance.
7 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. nice review..

  2. Nice review David..I think I can related my experience with someone. I am eagerly waiting for your subsequent parts. Kudos !!

    I remember someone on this forum saying that if you want a toy get an iPhone and if you want to get a tool get a BlackBerry which may have been true until sometime back but not anymore. I have been using a BlackBerry since 2005 and am a die hard fan of these devices. However very recently I have shifted to iPhone 3GS just to taste the “Apple” pie although I browse through BerryReview everyday and literally every hour and am very much updated with everything around BlackBerries

    AT&T has a fairly decent service in Dallas although AT&T says that 3% of it’s iPhone users consume 40% of their network resources. The paradox is I live in Irving, TX and from my window I can practically see RIM’s US Headquaters in Irving (To me it sounds like a Nokia employee using a BB 9700 rather than an E72).

    From a display or presentation perspective an iPhone definitely beats a BB from all standpoints be it Safari, reading emails, apps etc which pretty much can be attributed to the iPhones large display. What I do NOT like about an iPhone is

    1) Built in e-mail client.
    2) Lack of notifications like blinking LED, customizable sound notifiers.
    3) Battery life.
    4) Lack of a physical keyboard due to which the propensity to make spelling mistakes is higher.
    5) Inability to use iPhone as a USB drive (it can be overcome by jailbreaking it)

    There is a school of thought that says that iPhone battery cannot be replaced. AT&T provides 1 year warranty on every device within the contract so that’s taken care of. Moreover, how often do we change or replace batteries in our devices and even if someone does what is the percentage population doing so.

    There was recent survey which said that 54% people would prefer a BlackBerry rather than an iPhone which is perhaps true. Although I sleep with a super model but now and then when a new RIM device is launched I get naturally attracted towards it.

    Anyway.. this is just my opinion. I am sure there would be a protagonist group and there would be an antagonist group to this thought process.

  3. Umm…. your post talks about comparing the Curve 8530 against the iPhone, but then it turns out to be the Bold 9700 against the iPhone.

    • I was thinking the same thing. Glad it’s the Bold though, the 8530 isn’t exactly the best BlackBerry to compare with the iPhone. And to be totally fair, the iPhone 3GS would be better to compare the Bold with. It’s faster and has more features than the iPhone 3G.

  4. I would like to see a review on the iphone vs.the storm 2 as they are both touch screen devices, and are better comparisons in my opinion…let me know!

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