by Al Sacco

RIM BlackBerry Storm vs. iPhone 3G: 8 Reasons to Pick the Storm

Nov 14, 20087 mins
Computers and PeripheralsConsumer ElectronicsMobile

With the new BlackBerry Storm set to hit U.S stores, many smartphone enthusiasts looking to go the touch screen route will have to make a decision between RIM's first touch device and the iPhone 3G. In this second installment of a two-part series we offer up eight reasons to embrace the Storm.

You’ve read my reasons to choose the iPhone 3G over the BlackBerry Storm. Now check out the flip side.

The following eight points argue why RIM’s new touch screen BlackBerry may be better suited for your needs than Apple’s uber-popular iPhone 3G.

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

8) Stereo Bluetooth Capability

With the iPhone, users still can’t listen to their music collections via Bluetooth, wireless headsets–at least without buying a third-party adapter–because the device doesn’t support Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) technology.

That means wired headphones are a must when using Apple’s smartphone to listen to music in stereo.

BlackBerry smartphones have supported stereo Bluetooth for quite some time, and the Storm will be no exception. If you just forked over a significant chunk of change for a snazzy new pair of wireless headphones, or you’ve had your eyes on a set, you may want to choose the Storm over the iPhone 3G so you can employ the headphones along with your new handheld.

7) Removable Battery

Like the vast majority of RIM devices, the BlackBerry Storm has a removable battery that can be replaced with another when fully drained. Extra BlackBerry batteries sell for as little as $5, but they can be invaluable to frequent travelers or folks who constantly listen to music, play games or watch video.

Since the iPhone has a fixed battery that cannot be swapped out, you need to charge regularly or purchase expensive–and awkward–third-party portable charging solutions.

6) Expandable Memory

The BlackBerry Storm ships with just 1GB of on-board memory, but it also has an expandable microSD media card slot that can accommodate cards up to 16GB.

The 16GB iPhone sells for $299 on contract. The $199 Storm plus a 16GB media card comes to about $265, so the price is comparable. However, Storm users can buy as many media cards as they can afford, so they have more of their digital media collections on hand at any given time. (Keep in mind, microSD cards are small enough to fit into a wallet or purse. In fact, I’ve got three of them in my wallet as I write this.)

Whether or not an expandable memory card slot is for you largely depends on the size of your digital media collection, as well as how often you want to access it via mobile device. As stated in my “reasons to choose the iPhone over the Storm, some folks may value the iPhone’s fixed 8GB or 16 GB memory because it means never having to mess with tiny cards.

5) Digital Camera, Video Recording

The Storm sports a 3.2 megapixel digital camera, as compared to the iPhone’s 2.0 megapixel camera. In theory, the Storm should be able to snap higher quality images than the iPhone, though we’ll have to wait until the Storm is officially released to know for sure.

And though the iPhone has a digital camera, it cannot yet capture video clips, while the Storm can. If video capture is essential, you’ll want to choose the Storm over the iPhone 3G.

4) Storm Works as a Tethered Modem

Many smartphone owners, particularly business users, employ their handhelds’ Internet connections to access the Web via otherwise unconnected PCs or laptop computers. The ability to tether can come in extremely handy while travelling and visiting various hotels, airports, lounges, etc. that charge for Wi-Fi access. In such situations, you can simply connect your smartphone and computer and avoid Wi-Fi fees.

Currently, wireless carriers determine which devices can be used for tethering. Though AT&T BlackBerry owners can already pay a premium for tethering functionality, iPhone users still cannot–at least without “jailbreaking” their devices. AT&T has said that an iPhone tethering solution is in the works—but no specific details are available, so it could be some time before Apple smartphone owners can legitimately tether.

Though Verizon has not officially said whether or not Storm users will be able to pay extra for tethering functionality, the carrier offers the option to all of its existing BlackBerry owners, so it’s very likely Storm users will get the same treatment.

If tethering is a must for you, choose the Storm.

3) Touch Screen Provides Tactile Feedback

One longstanding complaint about the iPhone’s touch screen is its lack of tactile feedback–in other words, the screen offers no response when you hit a key, making it difficult to type without staring directly at the screen.

RIM listened to the frustrated iPhone users when it developed the Storm’s keyboard, which uses “Click Through” technology to provide both audible and tactile feedback whenever you click the screen. In fact, the screen on the Storm is really just one large button that actually depresses when you click it.

I recently spent some time with the Storm, and though the device I experimented with was a preproduction unit and the software was buggy, it was easy to see how the small amount of feedback the new screen provides could potentially improve typing efficiency.

If rapid typing is a must, you might want to consider a device with a full QWERTY, physical keyboard. But if your mind is set on a touch screen smartphone, choose the Storm.

2) Copy and Paste

Perhaps the most notable feature lacking in the current iPhone 3G is a copy and paste function. Copy and paste might not seem like such a big deal on a mobile device, but just try transferring a URL from a Web page to an email message without it, and you’ll soon see why such a simple function can be so important.

BlackBerry Storm users will be able to cut and paste text by simply pressing a finger down at the beginning of a selection and then another finger at the end to highlight the text. And after you make a selection, the BlackBerry Menu key shows options to copy the text and paste it at a later time.

Smartphone users who frequently share links with friends and colleagues might want to pick the Storm over the iPhone because of its ability to copy and paste text.

1) Multitasking Champ

My final reason to choose the BlackBerry Storm over the iPhone 3G is its ability to “multitask.” In the smartphone context, multitasking means running multiple applications in the background while using your device for other–though possibly connected–purposes.

Because recent versions of the BlackBerry handheld OS allow for multitasking, if you use just about any RIM device you can, say, leave your AIM instant messaging application open and active while surfing the Web or playing a video game. That means IMs that you get while using the device for other purposes will still be received and, depending on individual settings, you’ll be alerted.

Right now, the iPhone OS does not allow for multitasking, and as such, you can only run one third-party application at a time. (Some default Apple applications, like the iPod, can be used while other apps are running.)

If you ever want to be able to leave an IM client active while reading your news and/or checking sports scores via separate apps, you’ll want to choose the Storm over the iPhone 3G.

That wraps up my reasons to go with the Storm. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out “8 Reasons to Pick the iPhone Over the Storm.”