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?
- Windows Phone vs. BlackBerry
- Windows Phone vs. Android
- Windows Phone vs. iPhone
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
Why Windows Phone?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.