Since the arrival of the Android platform in Alaska, I have been torn between my trusty Blackberry Curve and the HTC Hero. Do I give up what has worked well for so long just to get something new a flashy. It’s a difficult choice and a comparison is worth making to see what you get with each.
Let’s begin with Blackberry.
Blackberry from RIM has traditionally been a very corporate oriented device. Many of the features of the phone still cater to that market but they have made great progress in the consumer market as well with some of these same features.
E-mail is the one thing where the Blackberry rules supreme in my opinion. With regular Blackberry service, you can connect up to ten e-mail accounts to your Blackberry, from free accounts such as Yahoo, Gmail etc., to POP accounts and Exchange server accounts. Pretty much within seconds of receiving an email in your inbox, it’s pushed to the phone. In addition, RIM has integrated several social networks into this push technology so whenever you have a new message on Facebook or MySpace and soon Twitter, the phone lets you know. You no longer need to check your e-mail or social networks, it’s all there when something new is available.
Browsing has always been one of the downfalls of the Blackberry. Although browsing supposedly takes up less bandwidth, a feature that carriers surely love, it doesn’t make it more appealing if things such as basic page layout and flash doesn’t work. To RIM’s credit, they have recognized this dilemma and have introduced a Webkit based browser that eventually will be available. Until then, however, we’re stuck with the default one or one of the third party ones such as Opera or Bolt.
Until just over a year ago, the Blackberry did not have an app store. To find apps, they had to be downloaded online and installed to the phone through the Desktop Manager or just simply downloaded directly to the phone itself. With the introduction of the App World, this has largely changed and you can now find tons of apps in the Blackberry App World. However, the unfortunate thing is that the App World (at least on my Curve) is slow to download, slow to update and just a drag to use. It does what it needs to do but not very well. The highlight is the lists of top free and top paid apps. They come in handy.
The data service on my Blackberry has always been sufficient for e-mail, the browsing I do as well as streaming music. However, I’ve always been aware that with EVDO speeds, although fast, it just hasn’t always cut it. For example, downloading large amounts of RSS feeds using Vlingo can take a bit.
Enter the HTC Hero, running Android.
Android is a new OS, hip and here to compete with the iPhone crowd. Being touch-based, it easily allows you to navigate around and do what you need to do with just the flick of a finger.
Just like the Blackberry, the Hero supports multiple e-mail accounts. Being a Google system, a Gmail is a must to download apps etc., so if you already have a Gmail account as your primary e-mail, this will be a perfect match. Some accounts can be a bit touch and go. Hotmail works fine while Yahoo does not. Regular POP accounts and Exchange accounts also work fine yet they all share one common thing: e-mail is not pushed immediately to your phone as it is on the Blackberry. For someone that has gotten used to getting constant updates, this is a big change. Fortunately, there is software out there that allows you to get similar functionality (Seven is an app that does that) and with that, Yahoo functionality is also suddenly available. Even so I do have to say that the e-mail experience on the Blackberry is much slicker.
The Hero definitely takes browsing to another level. With pinching and all that fun finger stuff for zooming in and out as well as a browser that’s blazing fast, browsing on the Hero is a joy for the most part. With limited Flash support, some more advanced pages even show up much better than on the Blackberry. Together with the EVDO Rev.A data speeds, things like full screen YouTube is now very possible and also very enjoyable.
The Android Market adds what I feel is very much missing on the Blackberry I have. A fast app store loaded with tons of apps I would actually use and an easy way to install and uninstall everything. The one thing I do miss is the top free and top paid apps, that would be great to have.
I’ve already mentioned the data service a bit and it’s worth mentioning again. The Rev.A data service on the Hero provides a platform that quickly gets you what you need, whether it’s YouTube videos, apps or websites. Streaming music or video works very well and if data service is not available you can always switch to WiFi and utilize other connections that may be available. Together with the Android OS, the high data speeds gives you a device that’s a pleasure to use.
Of course, there are many other things we could look at but those are the primary areas that concern me in the decisions that I make. One other big thing is that the Curve is a phone with a physical keyboard while the Hero has no physical keyboard and instead uses on-screen touch keyboards. Although a touch keyboard is a very different experience, I’ve found it to be usable enough that I won’t miss the physical keyboard of the Curve.
In other words, I expect to be getting myself a Hero, quite soon.