BlackBerry Bold vs. iPhone 3G, Side by Side

How much more than a phone can these devices be? See what each can do -- or not -- in this comparison.

Visual deathmatch: BlackBerry vs. iPhone

The BlackBerry is the corporate smartphone standard, yet the iPhone has captured the public's imagination. Does the BlackBerry deserve to remain the business standard? Is the iPhone all flash and no substance? See how these two mobile 2.0 platforms compare in our head-to-head comparison. And read our in-depth comparison feature to find out what's behind our conclusions.

Mobile main screens

At first blush, the iPhone (left) and BlackBerry Bold (right) have similar setups for their apps and other functionalities: an array of icons that open tools and folders. These are visible as soon as you power on an iPhone; on the BlackBerry, your home screen (upper right) shows just a few key apps and your mail accounts' status. To see apps and folders, use the menu key to open a separate window (lower right). The iPhone's unified interface is easier to use.

Working with e-mails

Both the iPhone and BlackBerry display e-mails in message lists. The BlackBerry provides more shortcut navigation, plus a search capability the iPhone does not. But the iPhone (left) lets you select multiple, nonadjacent messages for deletion or moving to a folder, while the BlackBerry (right) can multiple-select only contiguous e-mails.

Working with mail folders

The iPhone (left) uses a familiar hierarchical folder list that you can navigate to and from easily. The BlackBerry (right) displays folders as well, but navigating among them is difficult, as is telling apart mail accounts. Also, when you move messages on your computer into a folder, the BlackBerry keeps a copy in your main inbox, keeping it cluttered. By contrast, the iPhone keeps folders synced both ways.

Working with calendars

The iPhone (left) displays more information in its calendar than the BlackBerry (right), so you get a finer-grained view of your day. Both devices let you get more detailed information by clicking an event. The iPhone doesn't let you change which calendar (such as home or work) that entries are assigned to once you create them. And the BlackBerry doesn't respect multiple Exchange calendars; they're all merged into one.

Working with contacts

The iPhone (left) displays contacts more cleanly and allows for faster navigation using the letter list on its right side. The BlackBerry's cramped display (right) makes you work harder to scroll through contacts. Both devices let you search your contacts.

Adding new apps

The iPhone (left) lets you search and browse apps wirelessly, providing a fair amount of detail before you decide what to buy. The BlackBerry (right) has a similar mechanism, but its UI makes it harder to browse among apps and to get details on any individual app. You can also peruse iPhone apps from a PC via iTunes, but BlackBerry offers no comparable access.

Managing mobile apps

The iPhone (left) places all apps in its home screen, adding screens as needed. You can move apps around as desired and place any four in the row at bottom that is available in all app screens. The BlackBerry (right) places apps in multiple folders, so they're harder to find. You can rearrange apps and move them into any of seven preset folders.

Editing documents

Neither the iPhone nor the BlackBerry comes with a document editor, but the $20 Quickoffice (left) allows for basic editing on the iPhone, as does the $70 Documents to Go for BlackBerry (right). Quickoffice preserves existing tracked changes (unlike Documents to Go) and offers stronger Excel editing features. But Apple's SDK restrictions on the iPhone mean that Quickoffice can't work with e-mail attachments, nor can it work with Zipped files; Documents to Go has neither restriction. Neither device can be used for more than light work. Generally, BlackBerry apps are pricier and either less capable or harder to use.

Navigating with maps

The iPhone (left) comes with Google Maps, which lets you easily navigate and find your location; one feature is a direction-by-direction map. The BlackBerry comes with no map navigation, but the free Gokivo Navigator (right) is highly rated in the BlackBerry app store. However, it is very difficult to use, especially with its pauses as you move the trackball. If you want direction capabilities, you must subscribe to AT&T's $10-per-month voice navigation service, which provides both spoken directions and a live map; there is no voice-direction option for the iPhone. The BlackBerry also has trouble locating itself when not outdoors, while the iPhone can find itself almost anywhere

Using mobile-optimized content

Web site creators can provide sites, such as the New York Times, optimized for the iPhone (left) and BlackBerry (right). They can be mobile-formatted Web sites in an application wrapper (the Times' BlackBerry version) or a fully native content app (the Times' iPhone version). Many publications use mobile-optimized Web pages that work on multiple devices rather than wrapping them as apps.

Using the Web

The iPhone (left) can display most Web pages and let you navigate them. The BlackBerry can often display Web pages (upper right), but navigation is more difficult due to limited zoom capabilities and its awkward trackball. Its columns view (lower right) overcomes some display issues but can bury content. The iPhone can't handle Flash objects but provides mobile-friendly controls for HTML forms. The BlackBerry often has trouble with overlapping DIVs and is hard to use with HTML forms.

Managing bookmarks

The iPhone (left) can sync bookmarks with your PC via iTunes and save bookmarks on the iPhone itself in a folder hierarchy. In addition, you can bookmark Web pages as if they were applications so that they appear as icons in your home screen. The BlackBerry (right) also lets you save bookmarks in a list. Both devices suggest Web page addresses as you type in URLs.

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