First lets examine the limitations each phone currently share. Firstly, they are both constricted by the fact that they are both tied to contracts with only one network. In other words, if you want either of these handsets and you do not like the operators due to any number of reasons (customer service or lack thereof etc), you have to make a compromised choice. Neither device was provided to us from either manufacturer so TMV hunted down friends with each device and based our reviews around a day playing with each device.
In TMV’s view tying choice and therefore consumers to one operator is utterly pathetic in terms of a strategy to drive consumer/business uptake of each device. If anything, it is a restriction of consumer choice and we are surprised it has not yet been challenged in court. Now that the iPhone comes free with an 18-month contract (UK) and with a minimum £45 pcm tariff via the operator o2, the device is definitely an improvement on its first generation offering. This has been industry standard, long before Apple wadded into the competitive mobile handset market. So in that sense the iPhone is behind in the potential uptake stakes.
The iPhone was the first touch screen mobile handset to hit the market, yet its walled garden consumer constraining strategy, imposed limitations on the devices uptake potential. Now it seems that Blackberry is sadly taking the same line in its exclusive deal with Vodafone for the Blackberry Storm product in the UK and in other markets.
If you take either phone and you get unsatisfactory customer service (which is the main reason I swore never to return to o2 after 3 years of loyalty), then it would be stupid to get the iPhone. The issue is the same vis a vis Vodafone and the Storm. But lets now move on and look at the user experience and feature set of each device:
Touch screen: Some great boundary pushing technology in terms of wi-fi and swivelling screen to browse websites as well as a great music player. Apart from not being able to send MMS, Bluetooth or multiple texts (just a couple of real inadequacies on Apples side), the user experience that was developed was ground breaking in generation one devices. The iPhone set the industry standard by which even today, almost all competitor propositions are judged by.
From the outset, the iPhone had a first to market advantage. Some would argue that the iPhone is a bad upgrade from the iPod Touch music player device as the phone was not thought out as well as it could have been. Improvements have been seen in 2nd generation iPhones.
Apple please take note: Mobile handsets for many many years now have generally had at least 48 hours of battery reliability with heavy use. Mobile office warriors beware! Yet in the same breath the iPhone is superior for browsing the Internet and experiencing the ever-growing array of apps. It is for these specific reasons that the iPhone is a “killer” handset.
One final bugbear -why build such a groundbreaking handset and then even in the 2nd generation device put a dud camera in it? – Especially when competitor touch screen handsets (al la – LG, Samsung et al) are releasing handsets with cameras 4-x better?
Overall TMV views the iPhone as a great music device, yet we do believe the device requires key fixes in terms of the mobile phone experience.
With RIM releasing there first full-touch screen handset onto the market rather late in comparison to competitors, you would think it had sorted out all of the problems experienced by competitor devices right? Well in this case I do believe the Storm is as close as we are going to get in terms of perfection of touch screen devices at this point in time.
The screen is slightly larger than that of the iPhone and the pixel resolution is currently the best in the market. The fact that it also has answer and stop call buttons, which are not touch-screen is also in my personal view a blessing. TMV are not so sure about the vibration effect every time you touch each letter in terms of the touch screen is. Battery life albeit still not up to standard was better than that of the iPhone.
Music player wise, yes the device syncs with iTunes via a new app, yet the Storm only comes with 1GB of memory. If you want to upgrade to a maximum of 16GB you do have to purchase the memory separately. Blackberry needs to address this issue quickly. TMV believe this is the key area where the Storm falls down when compared to the iPhone.
From a user experience standpoint whilst the appearance of the iPhone is the sexist of the two devices the Storm is getting extremely close to building great user experience devices, which are on a par with that of the iPhone. The camera is only marginally better at 3.2 mega pixels.
On an enterprise level iPhone was and still is severely challenged in being able to match the Storm. Overall, for business use TMV regards the Storm as its preferred handset, and on a consumer level we believe the iPhone wins by a very slim margin.
However, TMV do feel it important to come back to the exclusive with only one operator issue. Both handsets suffer from this major setback. Sadly, as neither is my operator of choice in terms of service (especially for business), I will be sticking with T-Mobile and perhaps trying a 2nd generation android phone instead. TMV will not be happy until handset manufacturers enable true consumer choice by eliminating restrictions associated with tying consumers hands behind their back in forcing them to go with one operator over another just to have access to their handsets.
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