Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Windows Phone vs. BlackBerry

Should I get a BlackBerry? Or should I get a Windows Phone? What if you are coming from a different platform (i.e. from iOS or Android)? Or maybe from RIM/BB platform? There are values in both sides of the platform and I will discuss them to the best of my knowledge - and hopefully this will inform you to make your decision making easier.

BB was the leading platform several years ago - conquering both in the consumer space and corporate space. Their push-email was revolutionary and BBM changed the way people connect to one another. Is it still an excellent platform of choice today?

This post is a part of a series titled "Should I Get a Windows Phone?":
  1. Windows Phone vs. BlackBerry
  2. Windows Phone vs. Android
  3. Windows Phone vs. iPhone
  4. Windows Phone vs. "the rest" (WinMo, Bada, Symbian, etc)

Why go with BlackBerry?
The strongest reason to go with BlackBerry is the robust messaging platform that BB has - the BBM. Many of my friends have acquaintances and family members all over the world - and some of them use BB. BBM then becomes a essential communication hub for them. 

The second strongest reason to go with BB is the keyboard. BB makes awesome keyboard - probably the best in the industry. If vertical keyboard is your thing, then BB is your choice.

If you are coming from BB platform and all your communications to your contacts have been via BBM and don't want to go away from that paradigm - or if this is your #1 need in getting a new smartphone, BB is the way to go. This works not only against Windows Phone, but also against any non-BB platform, since BBM is unique to BB platform.

But there is actually a way to get around this "need" if you want to use a different platform ... please keep on reading. If you are very frugal in using data and want to keep your frugality, then BB is probably the platform of choice. Since most BB data is text, there is a very low data usage when using BB. This can also be caused by the lack of screen size in BB, where it discourages the users to resort in consuming large files or videos.  

Why NOT go with BlackBerry?
  1. There are ways you can get around the BBM hurdle: other messaging platform. There are platform-agnostic messaging apps that will allow you to communicate with people with different platform, including BB. They pretty much work in relatively similar manner as BBM. For example:
    • Kik Messanger - messaging platform for Windows Phone, iOS, Android, Symbian, BB
    • WhatsApp - messaging platform for Windows Phone, iOS, Android, Symbian, BB 

    The advantage of using these apps are actually much more than sticking with BBM. You can actually reach more people/friends/contacts and not be constraint to BB contacts only. Also, the interface for all these apps are much nicer in the non-BB platform, I kid you not.

  2. PIN/device identifier instead of user-based identifier. BB also uses PIN to connect a BB contact to another and the PIN is the main connector in BBM delivery. Unfortunately, the PIN is tied to a handset, NOT the user. So, if you choose to change your BB device to a newer or different BB device for some reason, you MUST tell all your BB contacts that your PIN has changed and they will need to update your information - or else BBM won't work.

  3. Outdated OS. There has not been that much differences between BB OS 5 and BB OS 6 and now BB OS 7. Between OS 5 and OS 6, the are only a handful major differences: home screen organization, new OS 6 browser supporting tabs, touch interface support, and universal search. Between OS 6 to OS 7: bigger icons, voice-enabled search, NFC support, hardware accelerated graphics, and BlackBerry Balance Technology to separate between work and personal stuff.

  4. Crappy hardware. Almost all of my friends who carry BB as their main device have it breaks down within a year or so. Broken battery cover, screen not working, buttons not registering, broken track-pad/ball etc. But the new Bold 9900 may change that - since it looks much better than its predecessor and feels solid. The 2.8" screen is ... small.

  5. Decreasing market share - and rumor has it that RIM is going to be sold. Most tech writers (Engadget, Gizmodo, BGR, The Verge etc) consider RIM to be irrelevant in the near future. So why invest your tech choices in something that most people believe to be going out the door?
Most of the things I mentioned above apply in general against BB, but not giving a lot of advantages for Windows Phone over other platform such as Android or iOS. In fact, I suggest that any platform other than BB is already a better platform. So if you are coming in from a non-BB background, reasons above should give you a considerable food for thought about whether you want to get into the BB camp for now. My suggestion: DO NOT.

Why Windows Phone?
  1. Better screen and touch interface. Much better. The screen for most BB are awful and the touch interface feels like a gimmick. Other than BB Torch series (which has touch screen and slide out keyboard), most BB has small screen (2.x inches). For example, Bold (the higher end series) has 2.8" screnn, with 640x480 px resolution. The lower end handset for Windows Phone has larger screen, much larger. Nokia Lumia 710 has 3.7" screen, with 800×480 px resolution. It's a pain to do touch in BB, since most things are small (using the trackpad or uniball is more friendly for BB compared to touch). Windows Phone uses "tiles" - which begged to be touch. Bigger screen & much nicer touch interface for Windows Phone.

  2. Much more economical price. The newer lower end BB (the Curve 9360) is selling at $79 with 2 yr contract in T-Mobile. The higher end (the Bold 9780) will cost you $109. The newest 4G, Bold 9900 costs a whopping $299 with 2 yr contract (all T-Mobile price). In contrast, Nokia Lumia 710, an economic, newest, latest, 4G Windows Phone will only cost you $49 with 2 yr contract.In AT&T, the price is more comparable, where both Bold 9900 & HTC Titan is selling at $199.

  3. Windows Phone is much more stable compared to BlackBerry. In a week, I don't think I have rebooted my Windows Phone. At the same time, I saw my friend rebooted his BB several times - locked up, froze, self-reboot, etc. Windows Phone is a very stable OS. Some Windows Phone do not even have battery covers, because rebooting your phone by taking out the battery is suppose to be something that you will never have to do.

  4. Live Tiles. I cannot stress this enough - that Live Tiles is awesome. The ability to do a "glance and go" without even entering an app is extraordinarily handy. BB has notifications and will put a number (i.e. 4 new emails) in your app icon. But flipping animated Live Tiles is a different beast. Not only it does serve as a notification, but also able to display important information on the flip side of the tiles. Which means that often you don't have to open the app to view the information.

  5. Apps in the Marketplace. Although BB App World has existed long before Windows Phone Marketplace, but App World is a stagnant ecosystem. ON the other hand, Marketplace is a thriving and growing ecosystem. Within a year, there are 50k +  apps in the Marketplace. It took App World 2 yr + to reach the same number of apps. Many of my friends who use BB usually not loading their BB with apps - and one reason why they don't is because the selection in the App World is kind of boring.

  6. Much better media device. Most BlackBerry user I know carry 2 devices, a phone and an media device (like an iPod Touch). Although BB can browse YouTube, play videos, and music - it is not becoming a device of choice to do all that media consumption activity. Windows Phone can do all the media in a single device with Zune and other apps.

  7. Awesome built-in & integrated apps. Windows Phone comes with XBOX Live integration. So if you game with XBOX already, this should come in handy - the ability to customize your avatar, check gamer score, compete with your friends, etc. Twitter and Facebook integration come in really handy. Combined all those things with Live Tiles - then you can have a solid social-network-charged device, without opening a single app. Windows Phone has other things that come out of the box that a BB does not have: Local Scouts, integrated Bing Search (vision, song, text-reader, etc), TellMe (superb voice command), Office hub, turn-by-turn navigation, SkyDrive integration, and many more.   

  8. Windows Phone also boots much faster than BlackBerry. In some sense, this is largely irrelevant - but with the frequency of rebooting BlackBerry, this can be a factor. As a comparison, in a single BlackBerry Bold 9780 reboot, I can reboot my HTC HD7 4+ times. Not only that, it is probably much faster to do anything in Windows Phone compared to in BB.    
I think BB is outdated and it is much better to use almost any platform other than BB - and the platform of choice for me is a Windows Phone. 

5 comments:

lipihardj said...

Coming from a used-to-be Blackberry (BB) user and now a Windows Phone (WP) user, there is
a couple of things that I miss from my previous BB. It is either the fact that these features are not available in WP or me, being a new WP user, not knowing how to do this properly. Anyway, these things are:

1. Blinking LED Light notification. This simple feature is the one I really miss from BB. Being able to know that there is something without having to look at the main screen of your phone is pretty comforting.

2. Mass Storage Mode. I can store almost anything into my BB in a very simple way. I only need a USB cable to get/send the file from/to BB from/to any PC without having to download and install any software first. This can't be done in WP. As newbie, I spent hours try to find how to store a pdf file into my WP. I donwloaded and installed zune on my laptop just to found out that you can only transfer music, picture, and movie (not .3gp although I have some .3gp that I'd like to have on my WP).
Dr. Google suggests to upload the file to skydrive and sync it to your WP. I did that and finally the file is there in my WP.
The next day, I wanted to send that pdf file to my desktop in the office. My first thought was lets just email the file like I always did from my BB. The fact is you can't do that. Email in WP only allows you to attach image files or maybe I'm wrong. You are still able to send office documents by go to Office, select the file and then share it using email, but not pdf file.
Ok, lets try bluetooth then, oops I forgot, WP bluetooth can only transfer contacts, unlike BB where you can transfer almost any files.
Maybe I can just grab the file from skydrive web and download it to my pc, without having anything to do with my WP. Nope, access to this site is blocked by the company internet policy and categorized as Personal Network Storage and Backup.
Bummer! That pdf file is stuck in my WP.

3. I am not able to select a mp3 music for the ringtone or maybe I just don't know how to do this. I'll be surprised if in fact you really can't do that.

4. I can't assign different notification for each application, can I? I used to set different notification in my blackberry. For example, 'LED only' for BBM, YM, MSN, 'Notification Icon only' for BBM Groups, WhatsApp, 'Sound + LED + Icon' for SMS and email.
I don't know how to do this in WP. All I can see from Ringtones + Sounds are Ringtone, New Text or IM, New voicemail, and New email. So what happens now is I get the same notification type for SMS and WhatsApp, which is pretty annoying to hear a sound whenever someone is WhatsApp-ing you, but I do still need the sound for SMS. What can I do?

5. Reminder. I had a reminder in my previous BB that occurs every two weeks to remind me to pay the rent. In WP, the selection of occurs are only once, every day, every weekday, ever 'day', or 'day' of the month. I still have no idea how to remind myself to pay the rent every two weeks.

Honestly, I really love the feel of WP. People contacts integration is awesome. Love the smooth and elegant display. There is no lag so far. Never experience Android's 'force close'.
But point no. 2 really got me thinking whether I should keep my Lumia 710 or not. I don't like the need for software (zune) and internet (skydrive) to sync the files.

Joe said...

For #1 - it is really a uniqueness of BB with the light. I don't think iPhone or Android has this. In many ways, this can be a blessing or a curse. For me, this actually is a blessing, since it means less interuptions or distractions. I think this is already in the Windows Phone User Voice list.

For #3, yes there is a way. You will need to make the "genre" to be "ringtone" and use Zune to transfer the file. I have 10 custom ringtones made this way. Read here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsphone/en-us/howto/wp7/start/create-ringtones.aspx for more detail.

For #4, you can do this already with some limitation. You can set different "alerts" for SMS, email, IM, or voicemail. But it is limited to the preset alerts and not allowing custom ringtones to be used for these. Further customization is already in the feature request list under Windows Phone User Voice list.

For #5, reminder - are you syncing with Hotmail calendar? You can do this biweekly thing in Hotmail calendar (or Gmail or Exchange) and sync. I have plenty of biweekly reminder set up this way.

Now, #4 - try using USB Storage Enabler for now, you can read and download it here: http://news.softpedia.com/news/How-to-Enable-USB-Storage-Mode-on-Windows-Phone-7-Devices-200665.shtml . This feature is also already in top 10 list requested feature in Windows Phone User Voice.

As far as using SkyDrive - it took some getting used to for me too. But now, after 1 year using it, I cannot live without it. The sharing capability and deep-linking is just awesome - and the 25GB is just like an awesome drive extension of the local storage. Basically I can use most of my local storage for music, videos, and media files - and store all my docs, pdfs, etc in SkyDrive.

To read more feature request list (and vote!), go here: http://windowsphone.uservoice.com/forums/101801-feature-suggestions/filters/top

lipihardj said...

Thanks Joe.

#5, reminder - I was trying to do this by adding new appointment from Calendar. I'll try the Hotmail calendar.

Good stuff mate, now I have confidence in keeping my WP!

Joe said...

I agree that the calendar from the WP itself is not that extensive in recurring appt creation - largely because most recurring appointments are done in a computer/exchange/outlook/gmail/hotmail.

mahasiswa teladan said...

hi...Im student from Informatics engineering nice article,
thanks for sharing :)