My Blackberry is Dead
My Blackberry died last week after the charging port on my 8800 became “wobbly” and would no longer charge. After accepting that this was something that would take sometime to fix, and that I was due a contract renewal anyway I came to terms with selecting a new device. I should say, that my Blackberry served me well. The push email connectivity really made me feel more connected to the world.
The main use case I wanted to address with my new device was to smooth up my podcast work flow. I was finding myself getting frustrated with my morning “download and sync” of my favourite podcasts to my iPod Nano. It was taking 5 to 10 minutes out of my morning to get organised and sometimes the sync didn’t have completed as I had expected.
The obvious choice was to look at the iPhone. My brother owns one and I have always been impressed by the quality of the web browsing experience, mainly due to the multi-touch interface. I was also excited to learn that apple had updated iTunes on the iPhone and iPod touch to support podcasts. However upon investigation I discovered that podcasts on the iPhone are limited to up-to 10MB in size.
On top of this, there has been a lot of controversy regarding independent applications, in particular the podcaster application that apple rejected from their application store. Having fiddled with the iPhone SDK I was already familiar with the whimsical nature that governs which applications are approved.
Needless to say, these points were dealbreakers for the iPhone. The other negative for the iPhone was the lack of a physical keyboard. That left me with two options the new Blackberry Bold or a G1. Both have WiFi, 3G and an application that supported my desired workflow of syncing podcasts over the air.
After considering the deals on offer, I am now the owner of a G1. After a week of use i am fairly happy with the device. The G1 has a few flaws:
- The keyboard is not to the same standard as either the Blackberry Bold or the 8800. The general form factor when typing feels flimsy, but it is servicable. I also find the ‘chin’ to be on the warm side. I don’t ever remember feeling that the 8800 was running warm.
- The lack of multitouch support on the android operating system is a let down. I am getting used to the zoom buttons but it lacks the iPhones slickness. I am encouraged that the hardware supports it, hopefully we will get an operating system update that introduces it.
- The shutter speed on the camera is shockingly slow. I wasnt able to get any good photos of my fidgity kids out of the native camera application. I;ve played with a few developer applications and SnapPhoto seems to take better photos.
- Battery life – although this is a general smartphone problem.
- The lack of a built in headphone jack. Although, i have acquired a mini-usb to 3.5mm jack. The supplietd headphones are shockingly poor.
- No native touchscreen keyboard. I prefer a tactile keyboard, but for those times when you just want to hit a couple of letters or numbers. Although this will be fixed in an update this month.
With those three short comings in mind, the star features of the G1 are:
- It has very tight integration with gmail. I had the gmail application on the 8800 and it was ok. The G1 is far superior, i put it down to the navigation by touchscreen and the fact the UI is optomised for the device. The email experience on the blackberry is its strength and it sets the benchmark. The main weakness in android at the moment is in bulk processing items. Also, there is no way to access gmail tasks.
- The syncing of contacts with my gmail address book. Assuming I stick with android forever, I will never have that annoying task of reentering/importing/exporting my contacts.
- The Android market. This is what makes the phone better than the Blackberry. The over-the-air experience is superb on the G1. As good as the iPhone. I will give a more detailed review later in the week. But if you’re just starting out, check out SnapPhoto, PicSay, Locale, Scoreboard and DoggCatcher. They are all awesome.
- The fact the operating system is being continuely worked on and that an update has already been released, with more likely at regular intervals. It is awesome to see that my major gripe with the software might well be sorted in the next week or so.
In summary, the G1 is a good phone that is taken into a different stratosphere due to an awesome, snappy operating system and a list of fantastic applications that is growing daily. While discussing Windows 7, the BBC quoted Steve Balmer:
“I believe our digital lives will only continue to get richer,” said Mr Ballmer. “There’s no turning back from the connected world.”
That future is already here with the G1.