For some time now, I’ve been toating both a BlackBerry 8700 and a Nokia N70 Series 60 smartphone with me. I like both handhelds, but I’ve developed a strong preference. Read why. The form factor of the Nokia device suits my pockets better. At 126 gr. (108.8x53x24 mm) versus the 134 gr. (110x69.5x19.5 mm) of the BlackBerry, the weight N70 is lighter and smaller and suits my pockets better. The keyboard of the N70 is good enough even for my fat fingers, although the phone-type keypad is no match to the 8700 qwerty keyboard when typing more than just the word “hi”. I’ve written longish mails on the BlackBerry without any problem whatsover, and I quite hate the T9-style dictionnaries, so I don’t use them on mobile phones. The text macros on the BlackBerry are a huge help for words or phrases which I use often, and they are easy to use. The BlackBerry’s large display (320x240 with 65k colours) is superior to that of the Nokia device (176x208), even though the latter has a much larger number of colors (262144). Even so, the N70 display is crystal clear and easy to read. Browsing the web is better on the BlackBerry than on the Nokia. I intensely dislike the UI of the Opera web browser supplied by T-mobile on the N70, and entering a URL is a PITA (because of the keypad). Managing contacts and addresses on the N70 is as easy as on the 8700/8707. A nice gimmick on the Nokia is the addition of a photograph for the contact which can of course be taken with the built-in camera (perhaps the BlackBerry Pearl offers that feature?). The mugshot is also displayed when the person’s number is dialled or when receiving a call from the contact’s number, allowing for a quick identification of loved or hated ones. Setting up email accounts (both POP3 and IMAP) on the Nokia is easy enough, and the functionality is sufficient, but in no way does it match the integration that the BlackBerrys deliver with either a BES or a BIS. When used with a BES, a BlackBerry offers the unsurpassed feature of a constant and full backup of contacts, calendar, mail, todos and memos with the backend Lotus Domino or Microsoft Exchange servers. I consider this seamless integration to be the killer reason for a BlackBerry. When using BIS, this functionality is not available, and users have to resort to the BlackBerry Desktop Manager to perform a backup to their Microsoft Windows PC, similarly to using Nokia’s PC-Suite with the N70. Mac OS/X users on the other hand have iSync which works very well to synchronize the Nokia’s calendar and contacts to iCal and Address Book respectively. The N70 is slow. Very slow. Everything appears to take a long time, be it opening an SMS or a contact. And the winner is: BlackBerry. I wanted an N70 for the 2MP camera, which the BlackBerry doesn’t have. The Pearl has a 1.3MP camera but lacks the full qwerty keyboard, offering SureType instead. Make me happy: give me an 87xx form factor with the keyboard and an added 2MP camera.

Mail, Hardware, and BlackBerry :: 18 Dec 2006 :: e-mail