Bah, humbug. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know you’ve heard it all before. I’m sure you were expecting to hear that I’m skipping work, camping out at Lenox Mall to get a shiny new iPhone Friday afternoon. Well, for many reasons, I decided weeks ago that without the integration with with my company’s Microsoft Exchange systems for over-the-air calendar features and push email, the first generation iPhone was not going to be on my shopping list, at least for now. I’ll wait for the bugs to get ironed out, true 3G network support, and better corporate support. I’m now (as of a couple of weeks ago) the proud new owner of Research in Motion’s latest offering, the spiffy new Blackberry Curve/8300 (middle, above).
And let me tell you, I feel like I’ve entered the 21st century when comparing this smartphone with the horrendous Verizon/HTC VX6700 Windows Mobile (far right, above) device I’ve been using for over a year now. Lack of usability doesn’t even begin to describe the issues with the Vx6700. Resets required two and three times a day, calls going directly to voice mail, horrible battery life, and the form factor of a brick. I had such high hopes for Windows Mobile as a breath of fresh air over what I’d been using before – the third in a series of Palm Treos I’d been using since 2002 or so. Before that, I’d lived with a series of the very early and sometimes somwhat crude Blackberry devices for several years. I may be a power user, with thousands of emails in my inbox etc., but no commercially available device should perform as poorly as that VX6700.
What do I want in a smartphone? I’ve already said it’s an absolute must to have the OTA calendaring and overall Exchange integration. The iPhone is admittedly an amazing device, but without a hack to provide these features, I remain tethered to a laptop or desktop somewhere to keep my crazy calendar in check, and that’s what having one of these phones is all about. The new Curve is very satisfying. It’s got a great screen that adapts surprisingly well to changes in ambient light, the camera is great to have and offers decent quality for a phone, and the web browsing experience is actually quite good. Perceptually, web browsing on this device seems faster than the sluggish overhead from Windows Mobile on the VX6700, particularly on mobile-optimized sites.
Like the iPhone, the ‘full-web’ experience on the Curve is pathetic – using AT&T/Cingular’s pokey ‘Edge’ network for fully broadband-optimized web sites. But I find this all a small price to pay for the convenience, reliability, and generally instantly-responsive behavior of the Blackberry Curve – not to mention corporate tech support at the office being behind it 100%.