What You Should Know Before you Switch from BlackBerry to iPhone


Last weekend, I was one of the 1 million who was crazy enough to wait on a 3 hour line to buy an iPhone 3G. Until last Thursday, I was quite content to be a BlackBerry user for the foreseeable future. I really liked my BlackBerry 8800. A lot.

So why the switch? Let’s face it…the iPhone 3G is a mighty fine web working smartphone.

As fantastic as the BlackBerry is for letting you connect to your office while you’re on the go, you have to have that office to connect to in the first place. I have a home office so I can telecommute to my Virginia-based job from New Jersey, but lately due to family demands I’ve been out of that office more than I’ve been in it. Next month I’m moving to a different part of New Jersey. The app store convinced me that I can lead a crazy web working life and still get done what needs to get done for my employers without keeping my laptop and its associated gear with me all the time.

Thinking about joining me in switching fruits from berry to apple? Here’s a quick look at what’s to love (and not-so-love) about being a new iPhone owner from the point of view of someone very used to the BlackBerry experience.

Note: this is based on features in BlackBerry OS 4.2. Some of the differences between the iPhone and BlackBerry may change as a new drastically updated BlackBerry OS is so close to shipping.

Reasons to love the iPhone (aside from the obviously superior browser and the whole iPod thing…that’s too easy):

SMS chat is more functional. On the BlackBerry, by default, SMS messages are mixed in with email messages. This makes it difficult to have a threaded conversation on the go. You can separate SMS from email, but it’s still an awkward interface because you can’t see the text message you’re replying to as you’re typing. Fine for sending one-off messages but more challenging for back-and-forth communications. On the iPhone, you can see the entire conversation on the same screen as you’re exchanging messages.

You can’t appreciate how helpful this is until you have your first SMS chat session with a colleague (or, in my case, my iPhone-carrying husband who was on a loud train) and the IM-like exchange allows for conversation, not just messages.

If this appeals to you, don’t forget to add AT&T’s unlimited text plan. It adds up quickly.

Update: After skimming through the many comments, I have to clarify what I was talking about here. Yes, I know that when you reply to a text message on the Blackberry you see all the previous messages from that contact. But, often on my BlackBerry I would be in the middle of replying to a text when another text from the same person came in. In order to see if the new message answered my question, I would have to go back to the message view, read the new message and then decide whether or not to go back to the draft I had started and continue it. On the iPhone, if you are in the middle of composing a reply and a new text comes in you see the view update, as it would in an IM conversation, without having to leave the screen to see new messages. Therefore, I find the BlackBerry just fine for quick text messages, but the iPhone is more conversational in that respect.

Audio options available for quick switches mid-call. This used to drive me crazy on the BlackBerry. I can’t count how many times I’d forget to either turn off my Bluetooth headset when it wasn’t on my ear or break the connection between the BlackBerry and the headset on the phone. A new call would come in, I’d answer it and realize that the audio was coming out of my headset which I then had to run for either in my purse or sitting near its charger because it took too long to tell the BlackBerry to send the sound through the device and not the headset.

On the iPhone, if you forget to break the pairing between the phone and the headset, you always have easy access to change the audio source. A simple click of a very visible button and the call audio can easily be rerouted.

Multiple calendar support. Right now, my Google account has 4 different calendars that I rely on. There’s a calendar for each of my 2 web working jobs, my personal only-I-care calendar and the calendar I share with my family. Even though Google has a wonderful utility for syncing multiple Google calendars with the single BlackBerry calendar, with a lot of events that interface bogs down quickly. The iPhone supports multiple calendars beautifully. True, the absence of a “week” view is troubling. The calendar also lacks support for event invites.

Bonus tip for Mac users: Check out Spanning Sync to sync Google calendars with iCal calendars. From there it’s an easy sync to the iPhone.

Multiple home pages. Sure, BlackBerry has extensive theme support so you can change colors, icons, fonts and background images. The more icons you added to your BlackBerry home screen, the more you had to scroll, making it difficult to find exactly the application you want to launch.

I love the way the iPhone handles multiple home page views. Hold down on an icon until they get all wiggly, then drag & drop to organize. My first page is shown in the screen shot (which is also easier to generate on an iPhone 3G…just click both the home and power buttons at the same time).

This is my “productivity” view. I flip to this page when I’m thinking “strictly business” (okay, the camera is debatable). A quick flick and I’m looking at reference apps. Another flick and I’m looking at my social networking apps.

I also like the way you can delete a non-standard application directly from the wiggly edit view.

Maybe the switch wasn’t such a bright idea after all (aside from the obviously superior keyboard…that’s too easy):

Email. Email. Email. This is RIM’s bread & BlackBerry jam, and with good reason. If the main reason you have a BlackBerry is to check your email across multiple accounts (let’s say work & personal), don’t even think about switching. You will be disappointed. Apple fans will talk about Push and Exchange support. They may even talk about MobileMe as an acceptable substitute. Don’t listen to them. Email on the iPhone is something you only appreciate now and then, otherwise it’s something you tolerate.

Where to begin? For starters, iPhone applications launch at the same point you left them. Helpful if you’re reading a book. Not-so-helpful if you’ve finished reading a message in one account and now want to read unread mail in another account. You are constantly navigating back and forth to get back to the page that lists your email accounts.

There is no way to set multiple signatures. There is no way to select multiple unread messages and mark them read at the same time. I so miss the BlackBerry “Mark Prior Read” menu item. The contact application is painfully slow to the point of agony.

Typing luxury beyond the keyboard. Even with the tactile feedback of a hardware keyboard, the BlackBerry offers many features that make typing long text easier. On the iPhone, you can double tap the space bar to insert a period and capitalize the next letter, but it stops there. Long time BlackBerry users know you can also hold down on a letter to capitalize it and configure multiple dictionaries and shortcuts (so if you type a word or phrase often you can enter it into the dictionary to autocomplete). Someone please come up with a way to port TextExpander to the iPhone and you can name your price. I’ll gladly pay. Double.

Dialing shortcuts. I had a dialing shortcut for nearly every letter of the alphabet. Holding down “O” dialed my office in Virginia, I pushed “C” for my co-worker Carlea’s cell phone, “M” for my mother and so on. The iPhone lets you save numbers in the Phone’s “favorites.” Nowhere near the same thing. The iPhone is clearly a 2-handed device. I got pretty good at getting around my BlackBerry with one hand…don’t see that happening any time soon on the iPhone.

I will give the iPhone bonus points for including letters on the virtual keypad, so no more guessing which number you push for dial-by-name directories.

And while we’re talking about the phone application, how silly is it that you can’t listen to voicemail through a Bluetooth headset on the iPhone? Nevermind. Must have been a temporary audio glitch…I’ve had a few of those.

Magnetized sleep. After 1 minute (configurable) of inactivity, the iPhone screen locks down. The screen goes black and you have to do a deliberate slide to get the screen to respond. This also saves some precious battery power. You can also hit the button at the top of the device to instantly go this mode. You have to remember to hit this button or wait until the iPhone goes to sleep on its own before putting the iPhone in your purse or pocket. While it only responds to finger touch, I’ve found that I can press the wrong buttons in the act of putting it in my purse if I didn’t remember to sleep it first.

The BlackBerry has a magnet so with certain cases, including the one that comes with the device, merely the act of putting the BlackBerry away puts it to sleep. I liked that.

Superior battery management. Okay, this is probably unfair because I’m comparing a 3G device to a 2G (EDGE) device. We’ll see just how much longer a BlackBerry lasts when the 3G Bold is released later this summer. But regardless, the BlackBerry will always have better battery management simply because said battery can be removed. Afraid of losing juice? Just carry an extra battery. There are also tons of cheap 3rd party chargers available for the more standard mini-USB plug on the BlackBerry. As soon as an accessory is marked for the iPhone, especially the latest model, there’s a steeper price tag.

Are you also a BlackBerry Switcher? Any other tips & tricks to make the transition easier?


Loneback _Sailor904

I’ll go back to a traditional land-line before I give up my Blackberry. In other words, “I’ll give it up when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers”.

PDA expert

The true Gold Standard for smartphones is the Palm Treo.

Both BlackBerry and iPhone have not caught up to the Treo.

3G, GPS, video record, and many other standard features on the Treo, that iPhone annd BlackBerry haven’t gotten to yet.


It’s very clever how you compare the 3g iphone to the blackberry 8800, its a good thing you didnt compare it to the blackberry bold which also runs on the 3g network. yes the iphone can do great things, but all in all its a toy, its something of a status symbol. its says “i now this is $400 , dont worry, i have that kind of money”, while blackberrys are professional and to the point. you want a toy, but a transformer, you want a serious quality phone, buy a blackberry. next time you write an article like this, try and do some research and not mislead people


Erik please!
-25,000 developers
-complete operating system
-app store right on your phone

-a few half-hearted developers??????
-flaky system????????
-no easy way to distribute apps???????
– HALF of it is a friggin keyboard!??????

do your homework son, spend some time on RIM’s web site to better understand verticle applications available.

Don’t get me wrong the i-phone is a cool device, it’s just not a serious tool for the mobile workforce…not to mention the fact you stuck with ATT’s 3G network which has a small footpint at best.


wait for the BLACKBERRY THUNDER to come out guys

i have a blackberry and a hack ipod touch..so i have a little of both worlds, they both got there up and downs..


I’m gonn’a wait till the Iphone at least upgrades to a vid cam.My v3xx does just as much if not more than the Iphone.Maybe I’ll wait till Apple intro’s the IPhone 10.0..:-)


Blackberry obviously was a bad choice and good you found a whole day to spend from your time to stand in the line for a phone. I’ve got Palm OS for almost a year now and it can do all your new iPhone can and even more. So what’s the big fuzz? People, you need to do your research before buying things and standing in long lines. Apple is a little behind with its technology and just by advertising big and loud they are getting tremendeous amount of public to believe that they did it. No, somebody else already have done it. Way before.

David Loji

By saying it has “a better reception/voice quality and besides it is just fine as an MP3 player”, I am comparing it to my old Blackberry 8700 Series, not the iPhone.


ur article is right on. i have both (not the 3G) a bb and iphone, and i can’t wait till the new bbcomes out later on this year. i think after a while i’m gonna give my iphone to my kids. i still like the BB


Apple is pretty smart – they did a load balancing test on 1 million users dime plus not to mention all the existing iphone users. Those apple iphone people didn’t hesitate to particpate for a fee. If thats what I want to pay for I think I’ll stick with a BB.



I give you kudos for changing and sticking to the iphone, i couldn’t, i changed, but came back quickly…

I guess i wanted to try the new
iphone… I can’t wait until the BB
Bold comes out… Whoever brings it
out first gets my contract :)


yo preiero iphone es mejor me gusta mas pero blackberry la verdad ke es tambien buena pero el iphone trae mas programa y tambien para descargar.. para escuchar musica es mejor ..mas comodo y al ser tactil , tener una gran pantalla sin botones, fino y facil de manejar me parece ke apple (iphone) gana a blackberry.


Honestly who really has time to distinguish between two totally different phones. Enough said.


I cant believe Americans are buying this junk.

Why not just buy a HTC Diamond or a Nokia N96 that spank an iPhone in every specification and make it look like its made by Playskool.


I disagree with everyone on this thing…the ultimate best phone is the Blackjack II! I love this phone and wouldn’t trade it for the dumb iPhone or the Blackberry..forget it people!!


I’ve always been number 1 fan of all Apple…
Especially that I’ve been waiting for an iPhone since it was a rumor. I was so excited I told everybody I was gonna get one. But the one thing that got me to jump ship on the iPhone was a simple fix. I had to be dependent on an Apple rep to change my battery. That don’t fly with me at all, especially with identity theft in an upraise. I don’t know who is hire in retails these day. It will be my luck I handed over my iPhone, if I had one to a disgruntle employee. You hear this crap all over the news every day, about employee stealing company information for their own gain. It’s nothing new at all. It’s happening NOW as you read this. Big issue here as well is you can not walk in with battery problems, you must make an appointment with an Apple Genius. Which adds even more DOWN time of you cell phone use. What next I have to go to Athletic Footwear to have them tie my sneakers, cause I bought it from their store?????? Please! Find another SUCKER! At least with an LG Dare your guaranty ZERO down time if you ever had battery issues. Because you can change it your self. The way it is suppose to be in life… In NYC it’s THE LAW to use hand free dialing. So I use voice dialing like ten thousand times a day. I been using voice dialing for 22 years on so many CHEAP FREE phone. Hmm.. Why should anyone be looking toward the App Store to get sh*t it should already have in it? Shouldn’t the App Store be for innovative Apps? Voice Dialing isn’t innovative and shouldn’t be in the App Store. It’s like offering a phone with out a dialing capability, so now you will have to go to the App Store to download a dailing App to make Calls. Hello! It is 2008 isn’


In regards to SMS texting, the author is wrong. When you reply to a text the whole string shows up.


My husband runs his business from the house so email when he is on the road is very important. He to stood in line for an iPhone to replace his BB Pearl and is curently at AT&T returning the iPhone because he could send emails but wasn’t able to receive them. He called Apple for support and sat on hold for 1 hour each time on two different occasions and they never picked up the line.
He will be getting a BB Bold when it comes out instead.


You forgot to mention that fact that to switch to the IPhone, you have to switch to one of the worst networks (at least in the southeast) in the country in AT&T.


It the iphone cost more than a blackberry? The blackberry for sprint is $30 a month whats the iphone? Also, can you cancel the blackberry at anytime or are you stuck paying $30 for 2 years


I just got a Blackberry 8330 on my Sprint account. Besides email it has voice dialing, fast evdo network speed, and turn-by-turn GPS navigation.

David Loji

Being a Mac lover I did consider switching from BlackBerry to the iPhone, being swayed by the elegant Apple interface and the very cool design, which was superior to my horrible 8700 Series Blackberry.

But based on my experience with the e:mail system on the BlackberryI decided to stick around and stay with Blackberry. I have used it in Europe, South America, North America and China and it just gets me my e:mail.

I am in the press industry and have written articles and edited them on the fly with the Blackberry. The main drawback for the iPhone is the virtual keyboard-not good if your requirements are e:mail intensive like mine. Can´t beat a physical keyboard for typing in a speedy fashion.

So when the time came to renew, I got a new Blackberry Curve and I love it. It´s got a better reception/voice quality and besides it is just fine as an MP3 player.

Bottom line: if you use your e:mail a lot on the go, Blackberry just works.

Theresa Mesa

I’m able to get my gmail through my *first generation* iPhone mail application. In fact, I also check my business’s IMAP mail through it, as well as my .mac account. I check three different email accounts through my iPhone. It used to be 5 until I closed one account and forwarded my roadrunner POP3 mail through my Gmail account. I know the process is not and different for the 3G.

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