Blackberry vs. Android

Blackberry vs. Android – as you are all probably well aware, this is a topic of much debate at the moment.

I personally am a Blackberry man, and up until a week ago there was very little that anyone could do or say to persuade me otherwise…. That was until I was put to the ultimate challenge, replacing my Blackberry with an Android for a week! Once the cold sweat and palpitations had passed and I had a little think about the implications, I figured that it would actually be quite an interesting experiment.

So many of the articles you read are about how wonderful the iPhones/Androids are, mainly focusing on the cool elements of the handset rather than the practical or business elements. On the other hand, the BlackBerry has always been a business phone and is still used by most of the world’s largest corporates.

For the sake of this experiment, I am using a Samsung Galaxy S 2 (which is currently one of the best and award winning Android phones on the market). My BlackBerry is also one of the best BlackBerrys on the market, the BlackBerry 9900 (Bold Touch). I will also point out that the BlackBerry and the Android are on their latest respective stock versions (Android ICS 4.0.3 and BlackBerry 7.1.1149).

These are the handsets in question (Obviously there is no need to point out which is which!!):
Blackberry vs. Android

The big switch

On Sunday at 8pm the switch over took place. The SIM came out and my BlackBerry got put into the safe, out of my reach for the week! I spent most of Sunday evening setting up the Android, configuring my email accounts and setting up any apps that I needed for the week. By the time I went to bed, it was setup as well as I thought it could be, considering that I am very new to Android.

And the games begin

At 3am on Monday morning, I encountered my first issue. Basically, I had set the phone to vibrate for the night, as this seemed the easiest way to put it onto a phone only mode. (I had set the ring tone to vibrate and ring, but no notifications vibrate). Whilst this is a bit of a pain as I rely on the vibrate functionality for notifications, it was an acceptable compromise. However, putting it on vibrate only didn’t seem to switch off the audible notifications, so an email blasted out the speaker and woke me up! As a work round I decided to put the phone on vibrate, followed by turning down the notification volume to 0 and that seemed to do the trick. I spent the better part of Monday morning looking at some of the many profile tools on offer in Google Play and tried out about 10. None of them were particularly good, so I decided to change the settings manually in the night and back in the morning, once I got used to it, it’s not really a big deal. I just missed having vibrate with notifications during the day.

My next challenge came when I tried to make appointments and inserted them into the calendar, this wasn’t pretty! It was quite a slow process and I had to set the reminder time manually which was disappointing. I was used to entering the details very quickly on the BlackBerry and it having a 15 minute default reminder time. Another notable omission is the ability to mark a calendar item as private. This was disappointing as, although the process was slow, it did work and the other important functions were present and correct. I also believe some of my frustrations are down to the Samsung/Orange skins that are on the device.

The rest of Monday was spent playing with the device and installing Twitter and Facebook. Both of which work very well and are indeed much better than the versions available on the BlackBerry.

I’m in love, or am I?

40 hours into the week and I have to admit, I am actually very impressed with the Android so far!

Initially, I was concerned about how many apps and rubbish were pre-installed on the ROM (stock ICS 4.0.3 from Orange UK), but once I worked out how to disable them, things seemed to be a lot better. One thing I really don’t like is the on screen keyboard. I guess BlackBerry will go this way fully eventually, but I hope not for a VERY long time!

One thing that is clear to see, is that I use my phone in a pretty unusual way which 100% fits in with how the BlackBerry works. This is primarily because I just use it as a business tool, despite being the epicentre of my social paradigm (just kidding). I can see why normal people for whom the main use for the device is social and personal find it so amazing. It is in a lot of ways.

Mid-week and we are half way there

Having spent the day working outside of the office I had the opportunity to put the remote desktop client and battery life to test. Using the Remote Desktop client I was able to do some system admin remotely and I was also able to help someone out using Join.Me viewer, both features not available to me on my Blackberry.

What impressed me most was the battery life. At 4pm and I still had 50% battery. I really didn’t expect this as I had been out and about and using it quite heavily all day!

Having had loads of emails while I was out the office, I really got to use the exchange email client and my main issues with it are as follows:

  1. It is slow to respond compared to the BlackBerry
  2. Filing a message into a folder is also a slow and frustrating process as I have lots of folders and have to scroll for ages to find the folder
  3. Meeting requests aren’t properly viewable and you sometimes have to open the email a few times to see the meeting time. This is probably a bug with the Samsung/Orange skin rather than the base Android, so will give it a break on that one!
  4. You have to open the email to see the whole subject as the font is so big, even though I have set to small font!
  5. Not really email related, but the Notes from Exchange aren’t on Android. It has tasks, but not notes, which is a shame as I use notes all the time!
  6. On the plus site the GMAIL Client on the Android is far superior to that of the BlackBerry as is it’s use of querying the global catalogue when emailing.

So what do I think – the good, bad and ugly

I never dreamed I would be saying this, but I actually really like the phone. The battery is much better than I ever expected! The apps are great, the screen is great, Gmail and other key apps are far superior to the BlackBerry. But again, because of the way I do things, I still prefer working day to day with the BlackBerry. Once I got used to it, I enjoyed the Android much more than I thought I would. I will actually go as far as to say that I will actually miss its extra functionality!

I was very pleased to see my BlackBerry in the end, so let’s hope that RIM work hard to stay competitive. They must do better versions of Facebook/Twitter type apps etc. if they want to keep up. It was a very interesting experiment and I hope it made interesting reading!

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