The BlackBerry-to-iPhone Switch: Converts Speak

CIO.com's smartphone-watcher Al Sacco found six gadget-geeks who recently made the switch from BlackBerry to iPhone--and two more who went from BlackBerry to iPhone and back again. Their stories shed light on reasons why you might want to switch from a BlackBerry to the iPhone...and why you might not.

Chances are, you've read a number of iPhone/BlackBerry comparisons over the past couple of years--I even penned a few of them myself.

image of the RIM BlackBerry Storm standing next to the iPhone 3G
BlackBerry Storm vs. iPhone 3G

Since then, I've come to the conclusion that such comparisons aren't really good for much except online bickering and "flame" wars--whether or not you prefer an iPhone to a BlackBerry or vice-versa is simply a matter of preference or how you want to use your smartphone.

However, in light of a recent study that found that two out of five BlackBerry users are eager to switch from their Research In Motion (RIM) devices to shiny new Apple smartphones, I decided to revisit the iPhone v. BlackBerry war, albeit from a slightly different angle.

I wanted to know specific reasons why formerly loyal BlackBerry users would make the switch to the iPhone. So I reached out to my more than 900 followers on Twitter, found folks that fit my bill, and asked them.

The people I hand-selected to appear in this story aren't smartphone "newbies," by any means. In fact, most of them have used not only one or two smartphones or BlackBerrys before making the iPhone switch; the majority of these gadgets geeks have employed handfuls of smartphones in the past, making them ideal subjects for this account. A number of these sources even own and operate smartphone-related websites and businesses or work in the wireless industry.

In other words, this is not your "average" BlackBerry v. iPhone comparison; it's the real-life account of people who spend lots of time, effort and money on smartphones, experimenting with various devices to ensure that they have the handhelds that best suit their individual needs. [very nice]

And their experiences can serve to inform others curious about what a switch from BlackBerry to iPhone would mean to them--or vice versa. In addition to the six BlackBerry-to-iPhone converts profiled in this piece, I've included the accounts of two gadget-lovers who first swapped their BlackBerrys for iPhones, only to switch back to BlackBerry shortly thereafter.

Hit the jump for specifics on why these smartphone-lovers made the initial switch from BlackBerry to iPhone, what they love about Apple's uber-device, what they miss most about BlackBerry, and whether or not they plan to stick with their current devices.

From BlackBerry to iPhone...

1) Subject: John Kleinschmidt

Twitter: @audit

Age: 41

Bio: Kleinschmidt is founder and operator of DataOutages.com and DataOutageNews.com, two websites that provide information on BlackBerry-service outages. He has been working with computers, in both the public- and private-sectors, for more than 20 years.

Smartphone History: Various Treo devices, including the Treo 650; various BlackBerry smartphones, starting with the 7500-models and up to the BlackBerry Bold 9700.

Current Device of Choice: Apple iPhone 3GS

User-Type (Business v. Consumer): "I use my personal device for both business and personal use," Kleinschmidt says.

Catalyst for the Switch: "I switched [from BlackBerry to iPhone] because I was too 'connected,'" Kleinschmidt says. "I couldn't go 10 minutes without a BBM message, text or e-mail. It got to the point that I was dreading waking up in the morning and reading the backlog of e-mail and all the other messages I was getting."

Regrets: "I don't regret the switch," Kleinschmidt says. "I made some great life-long friends in the Blackberry community, and I still am very active in it even though I no longer use one.

"With the iPhone, I'm also able to have some applications that help me better not only my professional life but my personal life. RIM just didn't have that available."

What the iPhone Does Best: Apps and anything web related.

What BlackBerry Does Best: Security. "If I needed to be in a secure environment again, I'd switch back to my Blackberry in a heartbeat," Kleinschmidt says.

Most Missed BlackBerry Features: Battery life of the BlackBerry Bold 9700 and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).

What RIM Could Do to Get You Back on BlackBerry: Not much. "RIM has a great uptime record, but the last couple years [it has] gotten worse," Kleinschmidt says. "As someone who depends on e-mail communication for work-related functions when I'm not in the office, I don't have the luxury of missing an e-mail because of a RIM outage."

2) Subject: Justin Cauchon

Twitter: @cauchon

Justin Cauchon, a.k.a. @Cauchon
Justin Cauchon a.k.a. @Cauchon

Age: 21

Bio: "I have been a smartphone user for over five years, ever since I bought my first Sidekick," Cauchon says. "I was addicted after that, switching phones every few months and spending ridiculous amounts of money on the latest gadgets. My addiction to gadgets inspired me to create Smartphone Nation, my blog about smartphones."

Smartphone History: In the past year alone, Cauchon employed a BlackBerry Bold 9000 and then switched to a BlackBerry 9700. Shortly after getting the 9700, he made the switch to an iPhone 3G.

Current Device of Choice: Apple iPhone 3G

User-Type (Business v. Consumer): Both. "As a college student, I keep in touch with family and friends through e-mail and text messages," Cauchon says. "I also use the calendar function for my assignments and appointments. On the other hand, I use it for the business I run for e-mail, applications and other important business functions."

Catalyst for the Switch: The BlackBerry platform is stagnating, Cauchon says, and he wanted something new and exciting.

"Once I started using the iPhone, I really couldn't put it down. The apps, the slick UI, the features, I just didn't want to ever go back to a BlackBerry device again.

Regrets: "My only regret is getting rid of BlackBerry Messenger," Cauchon says. "There are a lot of people that I connect with solely on BlackBerry Messenger, and without that program, I pretty much don't talk to them anymore."

What the iPhone Does Best: "The iPhone has the best applications," Cauchon says. "For almost anything you could think of, the iPhone has an app for it. It's so useful for daily use, to look up information or just to update Twitter. Apple really changed the game with its app store and I still haven't seen any other manufacturer come close to Apple's app store."

What BlackBerry Does Best: Battery life, BlackBerry Messenger, and push e-mail.

"The BlackBerry is great for business," Cauchon says. "The e-mail is really unbeatable with the push e-mail and the options that can be done with it. I still don't see why I can't mark all e-mails as read on my iPhone without manually opening up every e-mail. On the BlackBerry that option is as easy as pressing two buttons."

Most Missed BlackBerry Features: BlackBerry Messenger (BBM)

What RIM Could Do to Get You Back on BlackBerry: Cauchon says that if RIM was to come up with a truly unique, innovative new device--or operating system--he's certain to give it a try.

But, "I haven't really seen anything that has caught my eye" recently, he says. "[RIM is] always changing the looks of the phones, but the main OS is still the same. If there was a really drastic change to the OS, [then] that might bring me back."

3) Subject: Mike G.

Twitter: @alphatectz

Age: 26

Bio: Smartphone user for more than five years.

Smartphone History: Most recently, BlackBerry Curve 8900; BlackBerry 9000; BlackBerry Storm2 9550; various iPhone 2G and 3G models.

Current Device of Choice: iPhone 3GS and BlackBerry Bold 9700.

User-Type (Business v. Consumer): Consumer. "But I often use my BlackBerry for more business-oriented matters than the iPhone," Mike says.

Catalyst for the Switch: "I made the switch to an iPhone just because I wanted to try it out," Mike says. "I fell in love with the iPhone Web browser and the full touch-screen. [A]lso the 'jail-breaking' method," which frees the device from some of Apple's constraints.

Regrets: "Yes, I did regret leaving my BlackBerry," Mike says, and that's why he decided to employ two devices. "BlackBerrys are great. The full multitasking experience, without having to hack onto your phone; the ability to download third-party apps and themes; and the ability to [heavily] customize your settings to your own liking.

"I miss the full-features of BlackBerry," Mike says, "like 'real' push, notifications, the LED for alerts, and of course, BlackBerry Messenger."

What the iPhone Does Best: Web browsing, via mobile Safari; overall speed of navigation. "[The iPhone] also picks up 3G faster than my BlackBerry Bold 9700," Mike says.

What BlackBerry Does Best: Multitasking; alerts and notifications.

Most Missed BlackBerry Features: Multitasking.

What RIM Could Do to Get You Back on BlackBerry: "RIM needs to give us more [on-board] memory to use and provide an option to save our applications on microSD memory cards." Currently, BlackBerry users can only save third-party applications to a small portion of BlackBerry devices' memory, called "application memory."

4) Subject: Helena Pereira

Twitter: @MzLaneyP

Age: 28

Bio: Pereira is an assistant customer service manager for a phone company. She has been using smartphones for 2 years.

Smartphone History: BlackBerry Storm 9530 to BlackBerry Tour 9630 to iPhone

Current Device of Choice: Apple iPhone 3GS

User-Type (Business v. Consumer): Both. "While I depend on my iPhone for business e-mail, etc.," Pereira says, "I also depend on it for my own personal life and related tasks."

Catalyst for the Switch: "I first got a BlackBerry when the Storm came out, and we all know that was nothing but problems," Pereira says. (Read more about the troublesome BlackBerry Storm launch.) "I upgraded to the BlackBerry Tour 9630 the week it was released, but just couldn't take all the reboots, battery pulls and 'lagginess' anymore, so I switched carriers and got myself the iPhone."

Regrets: Pereira doesn't regret the switch from BlackBerry to iPhone "one bit." In fact, she says, "the iPhone has been very reliable, and I have yet to have a single issue with it."

What the iPhone Does Best: Web browsing, via mobile Safari. "The [iPhone] browser is not even comparable to the BlackBerry," Pereira says. "It's night and day."

What BlackBerry Does Best: Multitask, or run multiple applications in the device background. The iPhone doesn't multitask with third-party applications at all, Pereira says.

Most Missed BlackBerry Features: Multitasking.

What RIM Could Do to Get You Back on BlackBerry: "I'm not really sure. RIM needs to get its act together," she says, in reference to recent service outages and the need for an operating system refresh.

FREE CIO BlackBerry Newsletter

Get better use out of your BlackBerry and keep up-to-date on the latest developments. Sign-up »

5) Subject: Mike Pilot

Twitter: @ThaMike

Mike Pilot, a.k.a. @ThaMike
Mike Pilot a.k.a. @ThaMike

Age: 34

Bio: Web developer by day, Xbox gamer by night; co-host of the Internet-radio program "The Mediocre Show," and the "Obviously Oblivious" podcast. Smartphone-user for nearly four years.

Smartphone History: BlackBerry 8700g; BlackBerry Pearl 81xx; BlackBerry Pearl Flip 82xx; BlackBerry Curve; Apple iPhone 3GS

Current Device of Choice: Apple iPhone 3GS

User-Type (Business v. Consumer): Consumer

Catalyst for the Switch: "I loved my BlackBerrys, but [the platform didn't offer] as many customization-options as I would've liked," Pilot says. "It was also harder to find apps that were useful for me. At first I refused to get the iPhone but after using one for only two days as a test, I realized I couldn't go back to BlackBerry."

Regrets: "Absolutely not," Pilot says. "I haven't even missed my BlackBerry."

What the iPhone Does Best: Games, contacts, calendar, Web-surfing and e-mail.

"The iPhone has a much better screen," Pilot says. "I often say this is the best thing I ever bought for myself."

What BlackBerry Does Best: Notifications and alerts

Most Missed BlackBerry Features: Notifications and alerts

What RIM Could Do to Get You Back on BlackBerry: Nothing. Pilot says he gave BlackBerry a chance, but the iPhone is the clear choice for him.

6) Subject: Dacy Jackson

Twitter: @Dacyj

Age: 30

Bio: Owner and operator of AllMobileUnlocks.com, a cell-phone unlocking service, and smartphone users for nearly nine years.

Smartphone History: Wide variety of devices from Motorola, Sony Ericsson, Palm, HTC, RIM/BlackBerry and Apple.

Current Device of Choice: Apple iPhone 3G

User-Type (Business v. Consumer): Consumer

Catalyst for the Switch: Jackson says he thought his satisfaction level had reached a peak with BlackBerry, and he wanted more.

"I was getting tired of all the BlackBerry memory issues," Jackson says. "Also BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) was beginning to lose the reliability" that helped RIM gain its reputation as one of the smartphone leaders, he says.

"I also work outside a lot with customers, and my hands get dirty," Jackson says. "I'd have to replace my trackball every two weeks. And, honestly, I was tired of taking my phone apart." (Note: RIM has since addressed these trackball issues to some degree with the introduction of the "trackpad.")

Regrets: Nothing major, though Jackson says he does miss BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).

What the iPhone Does Best: "Although the iPhone doesn't use 'push' technology as well as the BlackBerry, it does everything else perfect," according to Jackson. "Organization, placing calls, e-mails and text. I can view my site with no problem and it leaves me worry-free when it comes to needing to get something done."

What BlackBerry Does Best: E-mail, push notifications and BBM.

Most Missed BlackBerry Features: BlackBerry Messenger (BBM)

What RIM Could Do to Get You Back on BlackBerry: "RIM needs to concentrate on the consumer now and not the corporate business world," Jackson says. "I believe if [the company] did that, it could jump right back into the game." And possibly into his pocket once again.

From BlackBerry to iPhone...And Back Again

1) Subject: Byron Kerr

Twitter: @BlackoutRF

Byron Kerr, a.k.a. @BlackoutRF
Byron Kerr a.k.a. @BlackoutRF

Age: 20

Bio: College student and self-proclaimed "phone fanatic" who has been using various smartphones since 2006.

Smartphone History: BlackBerry Pearls 8100 and 8120; BlackBerry Curves 8310, 8320, 8330 and 8900; BlackBerry Storm 9530 and Storm2 9550; BlackBerry Tour 9630; BlackBerry Bold 9000 and Bold 9700; Apple iPhone, iPhone 3G, and the iPhone 3GS.

Current Device of Choice: BlackBerry Bold 9700

User-Type (Business v. Consumer): Consumer

Catalyst for the Switch: "I originally went BlackBerry in 2006," Kerr says. "When the iPhone came out, I was amazed by its capability to be a media device but still get the phone aspect out to the masses."

Kerr had to see what everyone was talking about, so he made a short-lived switch to the iPhone.

"The one thing that keeps me coming back to the Blackberry after every device is BlackBerry's almost perfect use of e-mail," Kerr says. "No other device has the e-mail capabilities that BlackBerry has. That is important for me."

Regrets: "I don't necessarily regret my decisions, because I switch devices quite often," Kerr says. "But I always come back to some form of BlackBerry."

What the iPhone Does Best: The iPhone's on-screen "virtual" keyboard is hands-down the best keyboard of its kind, Kerr says. "I also like the media player UI," he says, which is also a cut above the competition.

What BlackBerry Does Best: "Nothing compares to BlackBerry e-mail," Kerr says. "Also the stability of the BlackBerry OS is another feat that I have yet to see topped by another manufacturer/OS.

"Another thing BlackBerry is best at: battery life," he says. "Sometimes days go by without a single charge on BlackBerry. And with BlackBerry OS 5.0, battery life has improved substantially."

Most Missed iPhone Features: "I miss the iPhone's simplified use of the music/video player," Kerr says. "It syncs up perfectly with iTunes, and the organization/UI that the iPhone uses is amazing.

"I also miss the ability to hack/jailbreak the iPhone to change the UI around," he says. "Besides themes on BlackBerry, the UI is pretty bland/basic, which is good for some, but not appealing to me."

What Apple Could Do to Get You Back on iPhone: Improve average battery life and enhance the iPhone e-mail client.

2) Subject: Paul Zammit

Twitter: @pawl03

Age: 19

Bio: College student studying software development in the Republic of Malta

Smartphone History: Nokia N95; BlackBerry Curve 8900; BlackBerry Storm; iPhone 3G; BlackBerry 8900

Current Device of Choice: BlackBerry Curve 8900

User-Type (Business v. Consumer): Consumer, "who likes to feel connected at any time and any place."

Catalyst for the Switch: "A friend of mine persuaded me to switch to an iPhone; everything about it sounded more appealing"&at first, Zammit says.

"I still loved BlackBerrys, so later I decided to swap my old Curve for a Storm. That was a painful move that I regretted. The touch-screen is awful, the OS is sluggish, and I couldn't upgrade my OS--it kept locking my phone when I tried, and I had to revert back.

"Then I decided to sell the Storm, and go for a used iPhone," Zammit says "I always wanted to give a touch-screen device a go, and when I got the iPhone, I loved it. Around two months ago, I got a new BlackBerry 8900, and I got to experience BlackBerry OS v5.0. I haven't looked back at my iPhone since."

Why Switch Back to BlackBerry: "iPhone lacks a lot of what the BlackBerry 8900 offered me," Zammit says. "Battery life is bad compared to most BlackBerrys. For the iPhone to keep going for a whole day on a single charge, I had to minimize Internet use, switch off 3G, and just stick to mostly SMS and brief calls. I gave up looking on Twitter and Facebook from the iPhone because it wasn't worth" the battery drain.

"Also, iPhone third-party apps do NOT integrate well with the OS. For example: I take a picture and want to send it to Facebook," Zammit says. "I'd have to close my camera, launch Facebook, go to pictures and upload from there. With BlackBerry, I could easily select 'Send to Facebook,' with a simple click."

"One last thing that made me switch back to a BlackBerry: Notifications," he says. Push notifications have improved for the iPhone, according to Zammit, but there's no comparison between iPhone notifications and BlackBerry notifications. "The LED notifications on BlackBerry are just great. And the fact that apps could easily run in the background (multitasking) is also a big plus for BlackBerry.

What the iPhone Does Best: Web browsing, via mobile Safari; software/hardware integration; and the "great-feeling" touch-display

What BlackBerry Does Best: Notifications and alerts; ease of use for e-mail, messaging and other social apps

Most Missed iPhone Features: "I do miss the games and other 'fun' apps for the iPhone, that's basically it," Zammit says. "[But] when I planned to play a game on my iPhone, I had to bring along the USB charger&because just two hours of gaming could easily drain the iPhone's battery."

The ease of tethering on the iPhone is also impressive, according to Zammit. "I could tether on any computer--Windows Vista onwards, and Mac OSX--without additional software," he says.

What Apple Could Do to Get You Back on iPhone: Improve average battery life; allow multitasking; and improve third-party application integration with the iPhone OS.

AS

FREE CIO BlackBerry Newsletter

Get better use out of your BlackBerry and keep up-to-date on the latest developments. Sign-up »

Insider Resume Makeover: How (and When) to Break the Rules
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies