Before the the first ever iPhone was released on June 29, 2007, the only two clear choice was available in the market when it comes to PDAs. They were Palm Pilot(1992) and the second choice was RIM’s Blackberry(1999). Although there were Japanese companies such as NEC tried their best to invent smarter super phones, it was the RIM’s Blackberry that was able to penetrate the market specially through their cooperate users. The fist device that RIM manufactured was a two way pager known as RIM 850, which was targeted towards business and health care professionals. But in 2003 RIM revolutionized the smart phone market with their successful BlackBerry devices. Again, RIM largely focused on the cooperate market. With the partnership of Microsoft, RIM introduced the state of the art secure private Blackberry Enterprise Server, a software driven system that can be install on Windows server to push IT policies allowing companies to control the flow of information to their employees smartphone. In 2007, Apple Inc released the iPhone by modifying their iPod (2001) digital music player in to a smartphone. With the addition of third party software to the iOS operating system, Apple Inc unleashed a new wave of mobile phone market. Today in 2010 with the new players like Android OS by Google, it is getting more harder to choose which is the best phone for your needs.
So, let’s get to the point. The addition of iPhone running iOS, the Blackberry running BB OS, Android OS based phones by different vendors and the new player, Windows Phone OS it is confusing to consumers which smartphone they should choose for their needs. Sometimes it is good to have a choice, but in this market, it is almost coming to the point where you have to research your needs and wants thoroughly before commit to an expensive smartphone. To keep this article short, I will post the information on what I think is best for some general situations.
Here is a list of strengths and weakness of the each device/OS.
Push Emails: RIM introduced a system well known among the BlackBerry users called pushed notification. The push system pull information from mail severs instead of periodical mail requests. This means that as soon as you send an email, the email will be pushed to the sever and as soon as someone send you an email, that email also will be pushed as soon as it gets to the mail sever.
BBM: BlackBerry is the first device to come up with this Internet packet switching based messaging system. It provides the sender with verification that the messages has been sent and read by the the recipient. The recipient also have this benefit on their end. The only down side is that the BBM app will only work on BlackBerry devices.
Security: BlackBerries are the best when it comes to security and privacy. It is so good that even the government with access to network data cannot access information that goes though the BIS/BES system. However in some countries the Blackberry Internet Server (BIS) plans could be bit more expensive than regular smartphone data plans. This is not true for North America and Europe.
Clear UI: The user interface is clear and simple specially when it comes to notifications. When you receive a message it will be clearly displayed on a specific area on the top. Also BlackBerry phones always have a notification LED which can be customized with apps.
Keyboard: Specific BlackBerry phones with the physical keyboards are the best in the market. The reason why I use specific because RIM also released several phones with just the touch interface. The Bold 9900/9930 is the best physical keyboard in the current market. If you are a kind of person who hate typing on touch screen, there is no other better option than BlackBerry.
Expandable memory: You can place a high capacity SD card to expand the device memory for music, movies, photos and other files. This is a huge advantage over phones that have only built in memory. It also saves money on the initial cost of the phone.
Removable battery: I don’t have to say much on this… this is an advantage over built in ones.
Network connection: BlackBerry phones have the the BEST network connection antennas. This is the phone for those who travel, live and/or work in area with poor cellular reception.
Voice quality: The Bold 9900 is far superior to iPhone, all the Android devices and Windows Phones in the market.
Apps: BlackBerry OS has the lowest number of functioning good apps in the market. Developers also run in to issues with the BlackBerry secure system forcing them to create far inferior apps for the BlackBerry OS platform compared to the exact same app on other platforms. Example of this would be Evernote. The Java based the OS and the security forced the developers to dumb down the app for BlackBerry. The RIM came in to the apps party too late and with the limitation on Java system, most developers dropped their support for RIM devices.
BIS: The Internet service on BlackBerry phones are secure known as BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS). The network packets are switched trough RIM severs known as located at different parts of the world. The downside is depend on where you are, the BIS connection can be slow for multimedia.
Multimedia: BlackBerry is currently the worst of all the four platforms out there. The network speeds are too slow to download movies or stream movies using services like YouTube. Java based OS process multimedia files such as HD movies. The music playback is really good.
Apps: Apple iOS has the largest well written apps on all three platforms. The key here is well written because the app market is growing at exponential rate on Android, but most of the apps have either bugs or have security/privacy concerns. Apple iOS is right behind RIM’s BB OS in terms of quality apps. If you value quality and quantity, there is nothing compared to apps built for Apple iOS.
Easy to use: If you are new to the smart phone market, then this is the best option out there. Specially if you are not good with technological things. If you are also old fashion and decided to buy a smart phone, it is fairly easy to learn how to use an iPhone.
Multimedia: Even without the support for Flash, iPhone is the best in the multimedia playback department. With the widespread development of HTML5 based multimedia contents on websites, there is actually no need for the Flash module anyway. No one can argue that Apple has taken their iPod and iPod touch multimedia powerhouse to the next level with the iPhone.
iTune control: The Apple Inc wants control of everything. I mean everything you do on this phone has to go through the iTunes software. Specially music and movie files. Even the songs you have on MP3 will be converted to Apple’s own format before it get loaded to the phone.
Network connection: A lot of people had experience poor network connections on iPhone over BlackBerry. The iPhone fan boys will say that it is user’s fault that they hold the phone in certain way there is no reception. However, if the issues is NOT meant to be there by Apple, then it is a defect by the legal deflation of hardware defect.
Customization: It is open source and there is always a new way to make your phone unique.
Choice: There are few companies that make the hardware for Android OS. You can choose from touch screen phones to few of those BlackBerry style physical keyboard units. You can also choose from different screen sizes.
Network connection: Like the iPhone, this is no where near what BlackBerry phones can deliver when it comes to network connection. Android phones probably have the worst network connection issues in the current market.
Battery life: Depend on which phone you go with, you either will get a good battery life or you don’t. It is kind of hard to find the middle ground.
Disconnect between hardware and software: Because Android is made by Google and the hardware is made by different manufactures with few modifications to the core OS, sometimes the OS does not work well with the hardware.
4. Windows Phone
Choice: There are few companies that make the hardware for Android OS. You can choose from touch screen phones to few of those BlackBerry style physical keyboard units.
Bricking: Phones with windows base OS sometimes seems to experience the blue screen of death (now it is black screen of death).
Who should choose BlackBerry?
If you use your smart phone for mostly traditional communication using voice calls, BlackBerry is the way to go. Also there is nothing better out there for push Email system. If you depend on quick email communication, this is also for you. If you send a lot of SMS messages and type faster on a physical keyboard as opposed to virtual one, RIM offer great range of phones with physical keyboards. However, BlackBerry phones lacks apps and multimedia support. Also the BlackBerry has the worst web browser in the current market.
Who should choose iPhone?
If you like to use a lot of apps ranging from critical banking, school, work app to fun apps like games, sports, etc, there is always an app to satisfy your needs. The apps on iPhone works well and do the job without creating problems for you. It is easy to use so if you are new to the smart phone game, this is the easiest phone when it comes to the leaning curve.
Who should choose Androids?
If you consider yourself as a technical guy/gal, this is the phone to get. You have so many options to exploit the system to fit your needs.
Who should choose Windows Phone?
At this time I have little experience with this platform so, I will leave this answer open.