August 13, 2009

Off on another BlackBerry journey

I love my iPhone. As a Mac Geek, and having owned 4 previous Macs in addition to the 2 I own now, having an iPhone is just the completion of the love affair I have with Apple products. I love the way it interfaces to MobileMe and Exchange and gives me both my work and private calendars, contacts and email. If anything that level of integration is the selling point.

The app store is another great thing about the iPhone, there’s almost an application for everything. I’ve even started thinking about getting in on the same and writing my own someday.

Of course it also plays music, tells the time, checks the weather, takes photos, and tells me where I am. It does all this and looks sexy too.

There is a BUT coming on. But.... The battery life and the keyboard frustrate me.

Prior to standing in the queue outside the Vodafone store on the 11th July 2008, I was a BlackBerry user or CrackBerry addict. I had the 8800 which while a nice size and shape, wasn’t that sexy, didn’t have a camera or a great music player, only allowed me to look at work contacts & calendar (it did the email thing very well), and didn’t have much in the way of apps. BUT... It had a keyboard and the battery life was brilliant. I got it out of the box yesterday for no real reason and went to charge it up and found that after 12 months, the battery had only lost about 10% of its charge.

The reason why I’m getting frustrated with the iPhone is due to the volume of work emails I get. While not all of them need to be answered, typing on the touch-screen keyboard is fiddly after a while, and doesn’t lend itself well when having to deal with a significant number that need to be answered. What this means is that I don’t answer as many as quickly as I should, and wait to get back to a desktop or a laptop. Partly, this has cured me of my CrackBerry-itis, but means that the support I provide others is sometimes a bit late or lacking. On a lighter note, often the auto-correct kicks in to produce some funny emails (this mornings “I’ll cone over when I get in” - happy coning!).

BI (Before iPhone), if I had to go interstate or even to some client meetings, I would often just take the BlackBerry and leave the laptop at home. I could do emails, create and respond to meeting requests, as well as set Out of Office all from the BB. It was great being able to travel light, especially when it was an in and out job (so to speak).

Now, with the iPhone, I am back to carrying a laptop with me, so I can do all of the above. While I can do emails, and now can send meeting invites with iPhone 3.0, there still a few things that require a proper keyboard or access to a proper exchange/Outlook client (or use the Safari Browser on the iPhone I guess).

Then of course there is the battery life. Doing a Twitter search for “iphone battery” finds many interesting tweets, mostly about how bad it is, but sometimes with a contradictory “it’s great” one in there. The battery life, particularly compared to the BB is appalling, as many people would know.

Take today for an example. Fully charged at 6:40, turned off at 8am for a 2 hour flight. Checked email, and twitter. Back on at other end, checked and then sent 4 emails, checked weather, twitter, tweeted, received two short phone calls, sent and received one SMS. The battery is now down to 80%. I don’t have wireless or Bluetooth on, and have screen brightness just under half way. Push is permanently turned off. Now there may have been other things that I did, but given it’s just gone 12:30, I would expect that I’ve still got some good juice left, e.g. down to about 90% instead.

The iPhone is left on but on silent over night, and mostly gets down to 20% in the morning, which could be good. My ritual every morning after getting up, is to plug the iPhone in so that it is fully charged by the time I leave for work.

This routine works, but I remember days where I would charge the BB every 2nd day and would still get all of the above done in a morning. Some days, I charge it again during the day, or at least give it a little top up, remembering the old iPod rule of “a little and often” and also have a charger in the car.

The other night I got the iPhone out and noticed that it was having trouble connecting to the Bigpond POP server. While over a wireless connection, I watched while over 3-4 minutes, at least 1/3 of the battery charge indicator (I didn’t check the actual %) disappeared while it continually tried to connect to the server. That’s madness. It seems when it tries harder to connect to something, e.g. when it falls back to non-3G, it uses up way more battery. That has to be fixed.

Given I would place myself at the lower end of being a road warrior these days (I was mid-range 16-18 months ago), and given I’m going to start getting back on the road more and more in the future, I am starting to think that the iPhone is not the ideal tool for what I need. The integration of the iCal and Exchange calendars is absolutely fantastic, but as each day goes by, I can see myself going back to the BB and managing 2 handsets.

I’ve availed myself of a new BB Curve 8900, which is small, light has a keyboard, already is showing great battery life, has a much better media player, a better camera, and of course will do the email thing very well. I need to determine whether it will sync with iCal at all (the desktop sync app does I think), and then I need to consider whether I will replace the iPhone with it once the current contract runs out. The truth is that I don’t listen to music much and only use a handful of the apps I’ve downloaded, so it’s going to be a hard and tough decision over the next while.

Like my other Mac exploits, when I have them, I will blog any interesting things that I find about integrating the BB with Mac Life and MobileMe as I discover them.

So the BB/CrackBerry journey begins again, and who knows where I will end up.

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