As any lover will tell you, delaying gratification is the secret to real satisfaction.
I have held onto my Treo 650 for four years. Admittedly, this is a long time to carry one phone, especially for a technology editor. (By contrast, I have gone through three PCs in that time.)
When I picked it up, I was the envy of my peers. At that time I was a freelance writer, and it was an extravagant purchase for my budget, but I had to have it because it was so cutting-edge.
At the time, the Treo pushed the limits of what a phone could handle: contacts, e-mail, SMS, Web browsing and MP3 playback.
Today, however, my beloved Treo, along with the entire Palm platform, is painfully long in the tooth.
Last week, I finally upgraded to a BlackBerry Curve 8330 (Sprint) and the difference has been nothing short of amazing. No matter what mysterious, miraculous concoction Apple releases next week, I'm now a CrackBerry junkie.
To fully grasp the depth of my feeling for my new phone, you have to understand where I'm coming from.
With only so-so voice quality, the Treo 650 was an okay phone; but it really shone as a smartphone. In addition to keeping my calendar and contacts, I installed Good Mobile Messaging so I could get my corporate e-mail.
That took a little effort and a lot of sweet-talking to the Ziff Davis IT department, but it meant that my e-mail, calendar and contacts were with me wherever I went.
After four years, however, the Treo just got old.
"Dude, phones don't have antennas anymore," I was recently chided by a particularly cruel colleague.
I had become self-conscious about the pathetic half-inch stub on my 650. It was a screaming sign of my technological impotence.
The scratches, scrapes, chips and dust under the edge of the screen didn't help either. Putting this thing on a table in a meeting, for example, would get me looks of shock and pity.
My New England values ("If it ain't broke, don't fix it") helped me handle this shame, but when the Treo started spontaneously rebooting it was time for an upgrade.
Sure, I could have gotten an iPhone, but the BlackBerry is the natural heir to the Palm legacy. As an organizer and messaging device, it simply has no equal.
I configured my Curve to connect to my corporate e-mail account in less than 10 minutes. I added my Gmail in about the same time — all without any help from IT.
Although the grid of applications icons is basic, navigating them is superfast — far faster than the Windows Mobile options on the market.
Then, I did something you can't do with the iPhone (at least not as of this writing) — I downloaded a bunch of cool third-party apps.
Opera Mini is a no-brainer, and far better than the BlackBerry's built-in browser. Then I went to Google Mobile and grabbed Google Search, Maps for Mobile, YouTube, and Google Sync, which will sync my Outlook, Google and BlackBerry calendars.
That last part was a bit rough, but generally it works. Android is still months away, but I'm essentially using the Google phone right now, and any BlackBerry user can do the same.
Box.net just launched an app that lets you share and access files you store online from your phone, so that's next on my download list.
To be fair, I can see the value of innovation in the iPhone. It's still by far the best mobile Web browsing you can get today.
I love the touch screen and the threaded SMS texting, but no Outlook support? Although the SDK release is coming, there aren't a ton of third-party apps for the iPhone and may not be for months.
And apart from that, by practically all accounts, the iPhone is simply a crappy voice phone. My BlackBerry is my only phone and I can't have my mother complaining that she can't hear me every time she calls. (And she calls a lot.)
In the next few weeks, RIM will start shipping the BlackBerry Bold. It isn't a huge leap forward in terms of design — it's essentially the same platform as the Curve, just a bit slicker, with a bigger screen and a faster processor. But it will succeed, because BlackBerrys just work.
Eventually, RIM may have to take some chances to keep stride with Apple's relentless pace of innovation. Right now, however, the BlackBerry has a huge lead in terms of number of users and networks supported.
After all, if you aren't willing to switch over to AT&T, the iPhone is a non-issue, whereas there are BlackBerrys for every major carrier in the U.S.
Killer commercials and grand press conferences aside, there are plenty of disappointed iPhone users out there. I have yet to meet a BlackBerry owner who has had bad things to say about his phone.
To me, that speaks volumes. And since I bought a BlackBerry, instead of an iPhone, I can actually hear what people are saying.
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