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Upgrading/Replacing a BlackBerry vs. an iPhone

subconscious_croppedI know this whole article will start the inevitable flame-war with Apple fanbois, but here’s something about the iPhone that I found to be a serious time-waster, and data-loser.  Upgrading! My wife has had the original iPhone since it came out.  She loves the iPhone, but she has had FIVE of them.  One heated up and stayed red-hot (shorted-out?), so she took it for replacement. Two seized up, replaced. One’s screen failed. Her fifth one was the charm, which worked for several years.  Recently, I got her the iPhone 3GS for her birthday, so she could enjoy 3G speed.  Just so you know, she never listens to music on her iPhone, buys songs, or syncs it with iTunes – ever.

Also, to make it more difficult, since AT&T is so terrified that I will sell the iPhone on eBay, they would not let me buy her new phone without converting over her old iPhone number.  So I couldn’t surprise her with a shiny new iPhone;  I had to rob her of her phone, for several hours, and basically she knew what I was going to do then.  So, no “Surprise!” That sucks.  When I bought the iPhone, at the Apple Store, I asked them if they could be gems and quickly copy over the data for me, because I knew how much trouble it would be.  No, they don’t do that; no, no.  So I had to do it myself.

I had the choice of getting an iPhone when I was up for renewal from my old Treo 750, but I chose the BlackBerry Bold (my first BlackBerry) for two reasons – I wanted a keyboard, and my employer will not let any iPhones connect to their server (security reasons),  but we have tens of thousands of BlackBerry users connected.  I have had three Bolds – one seized up, one had a firmware problem and one’s trackball starting double-clicking a lot, from my constant power-use.  I am getting an upgrade from AT&T in a few days; the tech guy asked me if I wanted an iPhone instead of a Bold.  I told him, “No, I want a BlackBerry.”  So they are sending me a BlackBerry Bold 9700.

So I have lots of experience with swapping out both BlackBerries and iPhones.  How difficult is it to replace either of these phones?  Well, let’s see; I will do the BlackBerry first.

BlackBerry Swap Steps:

  1. Connect old BlackBerry to PC with USB cable.
  2. Do backup with Desktop Manager.
  3. Remove old BlackBerry’s SIM card.
  4. Put SIM card in new BlackBerry.
  5. Connect new BlackBerry to PC with USB cable.
  6. Do restore from backup, with Desktop Manager.
  7. Done.
  8. Time elapsed?  A few, maybe ten minutes.

At this point, I have an exact replica of my previous BlackBerry Bold.


iPhone Swap Steps:

  1. Install iTunes on my PC.  Her 4-year-old iBook is too old to run iTunes+iPhone software, so I have to use the Windows XP iTunes version on my PC, which is from 2001.
  2. Connect old iPhone to PC with USB cable.
  3. Since she doesn’t sync, I have to somehow get the data off the old iPhone, into a backup.  There is no backup. I call tech support, and they say, buy MobileMe – $100.  No, I’m not doing that.  So I try to sync with Outlook.  How can I keep her contacts separate from my Outlook contacts?  I have to export the data to Windows Address Book, into a specific filename.
  4. Sub-Steps
    • Go into Windows Address Book and export my contacts into a backup file.
    • Delete all my contacts from Windows Address Book.
    • Import her contacts into Windows Address Book with iTunes (took a couple of tries)
    • Sync with iTunes into her new iPhone.
    • Delete all her contacts from Windows Address Book.
    • Import my contacts back from the backup file.
  5. What about her calendar entries?  I have to use Google Calendar.  I had to create a Google account for her, then sync with it.  That failed; it cleared out her calendar entries on the iPhone.  She’s gonna be angry with me!
  6. What about her photographs?  She has hundreds of photographs on her iPhone. I set up a folder to sync those pictures to, on my PC.  That worked, thankfully, but I am not sure why, and I don’t know if I could do it again.
  7. So I feel pretty good about it, and disconnect the old iPhone.
  8. I connect the new iPhone to the USB cable – it says it has a backup, so I let it do a restore from that.  No name/date on that backup, or anything else.  Just faith.
  9. Wait.
  10. Disconnect the iPhone and check it out.  The pictures are there, but no contacts.
  11. Retry everything; works second time.
  12. All applications had to be re-downloaded and re-installed.
  13. Time elapsed?  About three hours!

I gave my wife her new iPhone, and she loved it, but wondered where her bookmarks were, all her general settings were lost, Wifi locations were all gone, email addresses were gone, emails were all gone, from multiple accounts.  I cannot believe Apple did not/will not provide a simple, comprehensive backup for this phone.  Even my old Nokia 3650 had a backup/restore, and it was from 1998!

Conclusion:  Yeah, the iPhone is pretty, but try supporting it.

34 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Great Article. For all the complaining some people do about how “simplistic” the iPhone is compared to a BlackBerry, it is clear that RIM has through some things through very well.

    • My wife just swapped out her 8320 for a Motorola Cliq. There was no way to transfer her data/contact, so she has to do this manually. One week later, she’s back to her old 8320. The Cliq had terrible battery life, and while very cool to use was just not as dependable as the BlackBerry she’d gotten used to. Again no way to bring her data/contacts from the Cliq to a BlackBerry.

  2. I’m in the same situation as you! I agree and I stick with my Tour. Great comparison!

  3. Agreed. BlackBerry is great for upgrading. You could make your future BB upgrades that much easier using the device transfer wizard. Plug in old BB wait plug in new one wait again, done! No backup/restore needed.

  4. why so many steps for the BB? there is an option called Switch Device Wizard. does it all for you.

  5. Huh? Well, there you go – it’s even easier than I knew!

  6. While I agree that RIM & Apple each have their share of hardware QA issues (personally I went through half a dozen 8830s in < 2 yrs before my 9630 Tour — fingers crossed — while I've been lucky to have had no issues with my iPhones 3G or 3GS), I disagree that Apple's swap procedure is much more difficult than RIMs.

    Frankly, they both stink. When I swap or restore my BB, it literally takes most of the day to restore 3rd party apps and settings (even using some freeware utils to assist). Ridiculous. As for Apple, your key phrase is "she doesn't sync" — Apple despises folks who don't sync or who only sync with one PC, and will do all they can to foil us.

    The company who comes out with a true imaging app for BB & iPhone will have my worship, although the closed architecture of the platforms likely makes it impossible for now, at least legally. Hello Android?

  7. “Apple despises folks who don’t sync or who only sync with one PC”

    Should read: “folks who don’t sync or who prefer to sync with more than one PC”

    (EDIT: Really wish this software allowed us to edit posts…)

  8. I think you forgot one very important step albeit not a very time consuming one for switching BBs:
    Logging into BIS to switch your PIN from your old device to your new device – sort of important assuming you want to receive your emails.

    • You can also do that from your BB as well or simply resend service books. you can go on your BB to setup email and it will ask you if you want to switch pin #

      • Not all carriers let you do that. I have US Cellular and I could only do it from their BIS site. It had been 2 years since I had to change my information so I had forgotten. I felt like an idiot sitting on the phone with CS after that.

  9. I myself, have been a bb user for over 3 yrs. now. I find it crazy that there isn’t an easy way to transfer your settings and data/apps.

    As far as the QA for the devices go; I have heard horror stories from both sides. I say it is just the luck of the draw when it comes to device issues.

    All hail RIM!


    Happy Holidays!!!!!

  10. Um, I’m really shocked anyone here has let the post stand. Excuse me, but that’s a terribly wrong review.

    Steps to swap iPhone (I’ve done it enough time for my friends)
    1) Plug new iPhone into computer it had been synced to
    2) Tell iTunes to Restore Backup.
    3) Done.

    • I’m sorry, you must not have read the post at all, or you would have noticed that my wife NEVER syncs, EVER. I simply wanted to copy her data from her Edge iPhone to her new iPhone 3GS, but I didn’t want to commingle her hundreds of contacts with my (different) hundreds of contacts.

      So I don’t see how this is a two-step process. Maybe you can enlighten us, as to how you keep the contacts separated, all the many times you have done this. Is there some trick to this? I want to know. Because frankly, if her new iPhone fails, I will be doing this again, soon.

      • If you don’t want to mix contacts with yours, you have several options, inluding:

        1) using different account on xp machine which will have it’s own outlook profile
        2) creating a second profile for outlook under your account, and using that profile (which you can later delete)

      • Hi, I don’t want to sound to offensive, but seriously, this kind of reviews are what keep this whole thing going, the whole bb vs iPhone.

        When you want to transfer data from one iPhone to another, all you have to do is right click on it’s name on the left side panel on iTunes, click on ‘backup’, let it finish as it will back up everything on that phone. After that, you get your new iPhone, right click on it’s name and do a ‘restore’, which will now ask you what backup it is that you’d like to restore from, being that you can backup more than one iPhone.

        There, I think I just cut your iPhone steps by, well, a lot.

        I understand you, being a bb user myself, but I’m not that closed minded and did a better google search back in the day of first gen iPhones.

        Sorry, you just come up as a n00b.

  11. Michael should be euthanized for being a complete moron. Not only is he a whinger, but he is horribly ill informed. I pity his wife.

    • Ronen, see how it is? I write a truthful story about the difficulties of upgrading an iPhone and this tosser gives me grief. I wonder if he/she is actually an iPhone fanboy, trolling on the BlackBerry website.

      Sean, are you actually a BlackBerry user, or an iPhone user?

      • Hi Michael. I apologise for being curt. It’s that time of the month. I was directed to this article by BlackBerry fanboy at my work, who teases me about my iPhone and often makes innapproriate advances in the tea room. Unfortunately he owns the business and I would rather have him brush up against my breasts than lose my job.

        My partner had her iPhone stolen from her handbag and had to replace it. Fortunately, she posts her photos to flickr and has her contacts, calendar and e-mail synced with Google, which is free. Upgrading her iPhone took all of about 1 minute, and like your wife, my partner never syncs her phone, even though I have threatened her with physical abuse (which I suspect she is beginning to enjoy).

        Since we are destitute, and couldn’t afford the outrageously priced family MobileMe account, I wrote to Mr Jobs, offering him a night with two girls, but his personal assistant said he is married, and that it is against the law to sleep with underaged teenage girls. The man who has been making films of my girlfriend and I said ’16 is as good as 18′ so I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

        It turned out to be a blessing, because I discovered Google run an Exchange Server farm, and the iPhone (and BlackBerry for that matter) can easily sync everything to the cloud… for FREE.

        The instructions from the google site ( ‘ are below

        Google Sync: Setting Up Your iPhone or iPod TouchPrint
        To set up Google Sync on your iPhone or iPod Touch device, please follow the steps below.

        Requirements and Upload
        1. Google Sync is only supported on iPhone OS versions 3.0 and above. You can check your current version by going to Settings > General > About > Version. To upgrade, follow the instructions at Please upgrade to iPhone OS 3.0 before setting up Google Sync.

        2. Perform a sync with iTunes to ensure that Contacts and Calendars from your iPhone are backed up to your computer. Learn more.

        3. If your business, school, or organization uses Google Apps, your administrator will first need to enable Google Sync before you can take advantage of this feature.

        Getting Started
        1. Open the Settings application on your device’s home screen.
        2. Open Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
        3. Tap Add Account….
        4. Select Microsoft Exchange.

        Enter Account Info
        5. In the Email field, enter your full Google Account email address. If you use an address, you may see an “Unable to verify certificate” warning when you proceed to the next step.
        6. Leave the Domain field blank.
        7. Enter your full Google Account email address as the Username.
        8. Enter your Google Account password as the Password.
        9. Tap Next at the top of your screen.
        9a. Choose Accept if the Unable to Verify Certificate dialog appears.
        10. When the new Server field appears, enter
        11. Press Next at the top of your screen again.

        12. Select the Google services you want to sync.

        13. Unless you want to delete all the existing Contacts and Calendars on your phone, select the Keep on my iPhone option when prompted. This will also allow you to keep syncing with your computer via iTunes.

        If you want to sync only the My Contacts group, you must choose to Delete Existing Contacts during the Google Sync install when prompted. If you choose to keep existing contacts, it will sync the contents of the “All Contacts” group instead.

        You’ve set up Google Sync for your iPhone. Synchronization will begin automatically if you have Push enabled on your phone. You can also open the Mail, Calendar or Contacts app and wait a few seconds to start a sync.

        Next choose which calendars to sync, if you’d like to enable multiple calendars.

  12. i have iphone and a blackberry, im not gonna lie iphones are so much more work doing the easiest things but when it comes to backing up. Id use windows contacts for your contacts its easy, for photos you can do it through itunes but i found this way easier. When you plug your iphone to your computer mines reads it as a new device and lets me actually open the folder of the iphone (not a jailbreak feature) just lets you go into the picture folder as if it was a digital camera, from there i just copy/cut the pictures i want and paste them on my computer. IDK about calender i never really use it, i want to back up notes but as well thats not gonna happen, you need different apps and all this hootla, i dont see why the suppose to be best phone cant do the simplest shit, like wtf we just got mms and bluetooth is still a problem. lol dont get me wrong i love my iphone tho.

  13. How is this even close to a fair comparison? The first step on the blackberry is to plug it in and back it up….Why not plug in the iPhone and back it up? Its the exact same process….Also, maybe your wife should consider plugging her phone in every once in a while and you won’t have to write such fucking retarded articles. You just lost a reader.

    • I didn’t realize there were so many geniuses here.

      I just lost a reader? What is that? A threat? OMG, Gabe is taking his eyes somewhere else – like to the first iPhone fanboi website. Who gives a crap?

      Do you think there is a highly paid staff of writers here? I am not a staff writer, just a BlackBerry user. Just so you know, this is not an iPhone website, it is a BlackBerry website. Did you know that? Could you tell?

      All I was doing was relating a story about my difficulties transferring data from one iPhone to another, and for some reason, the story has what? Made you question your masculinity? Or WHAT? What is the problem here? The story is NOT ABOUT YOU, not about YOUR iPhone and YOUR remarkable iTunes-clicking prowess. What is your problem?

      So, it was not obvious to me that there was a backup utility in iTunes. That’s just poor design; concealing such an important feature under a right-click of one icon. That doesn’t make me a fncking retarded moron whinger (typo?). It just makes me unable to locate a hidden feature that is obviously inconsequential to Apple. When I talked to the support person, they simply tried to sell me Mobile Me, instead of telling me how to locate the buried backup feature.

      We have always owned Apple computers and products, back to the Apple IIe – probably longer than you have been alive. So don’t preach to me about how great Apple and their products are – we already know. My original Apple Newton is probably older than you.

      My wife doesn’t sync, even if she wanted to, because her piece of crap iBook will not sync with the iPhone. See, she bought the iBook G4 several years before the iPhone. When Apple created the iPhone, they coded the iTunes software to require a certain level of OSX – ~10.4. Guess what? The iBook G4 will not run anything higher than OS ~10.3.5. This must be Apple’s way of trying to force people to buy new MacBooks. So even if she wanted to sync, she cannot, and she is upset about this; she’s not going to buy a new MacBook, just to sync her iPhone. However, she does love her iPhone, just like you.

      Look, everybody can rest easy, because I will NEVER write another story for this website. I’ve been called a moron, a whinger, and fncking retarded, by people, that as far as I know, live in their mother’s basements and work in coffee houses or shoe stores, making a nickel an hour. So, more important than the website losing one reader (as if your threat means anything), it has lost a writer.

      • Nah, don’t let them get you down. Some people have no tact, if this isn’t obvious enough. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but nobody should get threatening about it. Jeez, it is an area for comments, not harassment.

    • Now now, Gabe, there’s no need to get obscene. There were some easier way to do the backup/restore on both platforms, but you missed the key points. The iPhone backup/restore needs iTunes to be installed, which wouldn’t run on the wife’s Mac. The BB restore feature lets you do advanced restores, restoring individual databases, select older backups, etc. The bottom line is that Apple tries to make everything user-friendly by taking these advanced features away from us. For the tech-saavy, the iPhone is a toy, nothing more. For the normal consumer, the iPhone is the superior device.

      • Unless you want to update from old technology to new, and do not sync or have a nice new computer. I think each device has its pros and cons. For simplicity, and an overall toy factor, the iphone wins easy. For business use, and professionalism, the blackberry wins. I had no idea before this, that you had to constantly sync and Iphone to be able to backup and restore with ease. My first Blackberry, an 8330, never was synced to my computer, because I wasn’t using outlook, and there was no point. I did however, create weekly backups with ease, making restoration that much easier, after OS upgrades, and I screwed something up.

  14. Michael,

    Don’t let the negative comments deter you.

    Like the old saying goes “you can’t please everybody”.

  15. Now now Michael, no need to crawl into a corner & weep. We all know how fanatic Appleheads are. It’s been a while since a non-contest post has rendered as many comments. Think of it as an accomplishment.

  16. And the process for reloading data/contacts onto an Android 2.0 phone? Just turn on the phone and log into your Google account. Yeah, it’s in the cloud where it should be.

    (Although admittedly, this doesn’t restore your 3rd party apps like it does on BlackBerry.)

  17. I expected the author to make corrections on this article, at least on the title, it’s a bit misleading. =/

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