Hanging out with the T-Mobile G1, iPhone 3G and the Blackberry Storm

I take this mobile tech stuff seriously.  I review a lot of gadgets and smartphones certainly play a big role in that coverage.  I have voice and data plans on Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile which I pay far too much for but I need them to be able to play with all the phones I get in my hands.  Right now in front of me I have what are undoubtedly the hottest smartphones available on all three of those networks.  Sitting on the table is the iPhone 3G, the T-Mobile G1 and the Blackberry Storm.  You have to agree those are the hottest smartphones in the US right now and I’m in the unusual position to compare the three for your edification.  OK, mainly it’s because I like to play with them.

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How do they compare?  That’s not really a fair question because at the basest level they are totally different phones that should appeal to different users.  What I find the most interesting about this comparison is that all three phones are smartphones that are aimed at the consumer.  This is a big change from the not so distant past when smartphones were almost exclusively the domain of the enterprise worker.  The phones such as these three have straddled the fence and shown the consumer that the benefits of good smartphones are not restricted to the enterprise.

Cimg1068The iPhone first demonstrated how effective a smartphone can be whenit provides a good web surfing solution.  It brought email to the handsof many who had not been exposed to it away from the desktop anddemonstrated how empowering that could be.  It quickly became thestandard against which all other consumer smartphones would be measuredand still is today.  I can attest to the fact that the competitors,especially the two phones I’m covering here, are getting closer to thatweb experience the iPhone offers.  Closer but not quite there yet.

Cimg1064The T-Mobile G1 web experience is getting very close to that of theiPhone.  For consumers who have thoroughly embraced the Google way oflife with GMail, Google Calendar and Contacts, the G1 actuallysurpasses the iPhone’s web experience.  The browser is not quite asgood as Mobile Safari on the iPhone but it’s darn close and is verysatisfying to use.  Google has ingrained their app integration sosolidly that it’s even more comfortable to use than the desktop, andthat’s the G1’s greatest strength.  Those wanting to leverage theirGoogle usage will do well with the G1, and with the Android Marketplacegetting its sea legs that can only get better. 

The Blackberry Storm on the Verizon network is RIM’s attempt tobring a consumer browsing machine to the Blackberry addict.  I can’tstress enough that the strongest feature of the Storm is that it is aBlackberry.  Consumers have been discovering the communication-relatedadvantages of the Blackberry for a couple of years now and RIM had leftthe boardroom prior to the launch of the Storm.

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The unusual tactic of removing the much ballyhooed Blackberrykeyboard is RIM’s move into the larger-screened web appliance spacelike the G1 and iPhone.  The touch screen with the unusual SurePresstechnology works for me better than the G1’s slider keyboard, mainlybecause it is an ingrained part of the interface on the Storm.  RIM made a serious error in omitting WiFi, the only one of these three that doesn’t offer that abilility.  TheG1’s lack of any on-screen keyboard makes the sliding one a requirementto run the phone and the inconsistent design of same on the G1 detractsfrom the experience.  This is not the case with the Storm.

So who are these three similar but distinct smartphones aimed at?  I suspect that the three carriers who sell them along with Apple, HTC and RIM would say that they are after anyone who will buy one.  That’s pretty hazy though, I think it’s fair to say that all three phones are aimed squarely at the consumer market.  The iPhone showed everyone how the "real Internet" looks on a handheld device and the race is on to provide that.  All three phones do a pretty good job in this area but the iPhone is still clearly ahead.  Most consumers will get a lot of benefit out of any of these phones no question, it comes down to exactly what you are looking for.  Heavy messaging requires a Blackberry.  Google users will do well with the G1 Android phone.  Pretty much anyone can do well with the iPhone, it’s an iPod too after all.

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