September 2010: Are Smartphones only for people with 20/20 vision?
That depends on the phone, and don't expect that a big screen is always better.
June 2012 update: Samsung Galaxy S4 and BlackBerry Z10 side by side.
I do wear glasses for reading, but I never bring them with me. So it is important that I can work my smartphone without the need for the glasses. Both phones meet my 'requirement'. Even so the Blackberry has a smaller font, the two brightness levels make a big difference. The only time I get into trouble is when browsing the web. The Blackberry Device software release 5 shows the full page, but it is impossible to read anything without first zooming in. Thanks to the zoom-in (i) and zoom-out (o) short cut on the keyboard, it is acceptable.
An investment into a smartphone only makes sense if it integrates with your own business applications. Email, calendar and contacts is the bare-bone requirement when it comes to out-of-the-box integration. Another important consideration is the security, phones are small and may get stolen or simply lost. No matter what the reason, the information on the phone needs to be protected from unauthorized access. It is safe to say that Blackberry wrote the book on mobile security. Without getting into too many technical details here, the Blackberry integrates with your office system through the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES). BES synchronizes the handheld with the office system. Blackberry is from Research In Motion (RIM) and has a tight integration between hardware and software. I would expect that Blackberry will be a leader for some time when it comes to mobile security that satisfies all corporate needs.
The Samsung Galaxy uses the Android operating system which is getting adopted by most cell phone manufacturers. 3rd party companies step up to provide solutions that compete with Blackberries security. IBM has Lotus Traveler which synchronizes the handheld with the office system. Lotus Traveler runs on the Lotus Domino Server and works with iPhone and Android.
With these technical detail out of the way, lets look at the two phones.
Click on the images to enlarge.
Comparing the application menu on the phone, there is no clear difference. The Samsung has bigger icons, but ultimately you get about the same number of apps on the screen. A bigger icon does not really make a big difference.
I never got the appeal of a 100,000 apps (sorry iPhone), if one app is done right, it will solve the problems of 100 apps. To prove my point, here is poynt from Multiplied Media Corporation in Calgary.
Opening my favourite application, poynt - not just because it's a free app.
I can lock the location to my postal code or let the GPS find my current location. Then based on this setting, I get the Weather, Movies, Restaurants and much more.
I do like the option of the postal code. GPS tracking is a great option, but not very gentle on the battery. I prefer to active GPS when I really need that level of functionality. In the configuration, I can choose my Maps application, Blackberry Maps or Google Maps.
Comparing the Movies option.
No matter which listing I'm looking at, I can always request the map showing the location of the movie theatre or the business.
The map options are:
Add to Address Book
Email to a Friend
Once I click on the theater, I get the list of all movies that are playing. Drilling further, I can download the trailer right to my phone. This is an option I use frequently and it fills up my 2Gb memory card faster then expected. I really should get an 8Gb or 16Gb memory card.
The other option in poynt I use often is the weather forecast.
From the poynt main menu, click the weather information to get the details.
On the Blackberry, I scroll right to get to the next day.
On the Samsung, I tap the day to get more details. Interesting how differently the weather was implemented.
My problems start now, opening the browser.
Pages designed for the mobile phone such as the Bell Mobility Home page work ok.
This is also the place where I wouldn't mind a bigger screen. But then again, the keyboard would be the problem.
Even so the Samsung has the keyboard on the touch screen, It will take away so much space that the benefit of a bigger screen is gone. When it comes to typing, I do prefer the 'real' keyboard on the Blackberry. I could see that more practice could change my mind, the touch screen keyboard on the Samsung works exceptionally well.
Comparing the two pages side by side, the Samsung uses bigger fonts by default and that really helps.
I will do more reviews about email, calendaring, contacts and the integration with the system in the office in general.
I'm running the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) on Domino for several years already. Never had a problem. My first Blackberry was the 7250, then the World Edition and now the Bold. Ever since the first Blackberry I took email, calendar, contacts, tasks and journal synchronization for granted.
Update January 5, 2011: Lotus Travler for Android is out for some time already. IBM did not use the Android email or calendar, but wrote their own application. It works very well, even so the calendar is still missing some options and doesn't really look as 'sexy' as the Blackberry ... yet. The Contacts integrate with the Android Contact system and after spending some time to understand how it works, I really like the implementation. Android shows all contacts in one place, no matter if they are kept in Gmail, Yahoo, Facebook, Lotus or Outlook. If one and the same contact is kept in all mail systems, they are 'linked' and shown as one in the Android Contact. To understand the linking and unlinking of Contacts, I created a document that shows how to work it. I couldn't find a complete and simple document anywhere, so here it is. Android Contacts - Link and Unlink.
First published on September 26, 2010
Last revised on January 05, 2011