The two heavyweight contenders are headed for the ring. Which super smartphone will emerge as the champ: Apple ( AAPL) and AT&T's ( T) iPhone or Research In Motion ( RIMM) and Verizon's ( VZ)? BlackBerry Storm? In this weekly series, I'll review the head-to-head battle of products while my colleagues James Rogers or Scott Moritz will handle the equity. Here is Scott's take.
Back to the tale of the tape: This is a battle of the world's best wireless PDA -- which can also make phone calls -- and the first touch-screen version of the world's most popular business email device. How is that for trying to be being diplomatic? In plain terms, this is a great wireless handheld computer that currently has problems making and keeping connected to phone calls (especially in the New York City region) and a really nice BlackBerry email device with a touch screen and a number of possible important features purposely excluded because Verizon doesn't want them on the phone. Time to explain. Apple's iPhone, by any measure possible, is fantastic. For everyone who thinks I hate Apple products, they're wrong. I just want Apple to be perfect. As a wireless handheld device, the iPhone is very hard to beat or even equal. It's easy to learn and fun to use. It's priced well, and is the undisputed industry leader at the moment. I especially like the way my 16GB iPhone handles email from our Microsoft ( MSFT) Exchange server. On the other hand, voice services on the iPhone leave a lot to be desired. Everyone wants to blame AT&T, but in a side-by-side test, an iPhone kept trying to decide between 2G and 3G service while an LG Incite phone, placed 6 inches from the iPhone, was able to join and stay connected to AT&T's 3G service. In the month I used the Incite, I never had one dropped connection.
Arch Rivals: Apple's iPhone vs. RIM's Storm
The lack of cut and paste, as well as Cupertino's virtual ban on user-removable batteries or the inclusion of a port for expanding memory, take some of the shine off Apple. The BlackBerry Storm (9530) is also a terrific device. Despite reports of malfunctioning Storms, I've used a few samples and had no problems whatsoever as of this point. Overall, the Storm has a nifty screen (different from the iPhone but fun and easy to use), a terrific Web browser, stereo Bluetooth and, of course, the BlackBerry email system. The Storm has a user-replaceable battery, a microSD card slot (8GB comes with the phone and I have a 16GB card in mine) and allows you to cut and paste. The Storm doesn't drop calls and Verizon's EV-DO 3G network has been flawless in our New York-area tests. Then again, Verizon, the Storm's sole retailer in the U.S. (along with parent company Vodafone in Europe) excludes some goodies from the phone. In particular, there is no Wi-Fi. I consider that decision an act of pure greed. Instead of allowing you to surf the Web on your home/office Wi-Fi network, you must use Verizon/Vodafone's EV-DO system with any data charges you could incur. Other modern BlackBerry devices (the Bold, Curve and even the lowly Flip) all have built-in Wi-Fi. T-Mobile ( DT) phones can also use that Wi-Fi connection to make VoIP calls (an inexpensive, extra-cost service). Pricewise, both the 8GB iPhone and the Storm with an 8GB memory card sell for a penny or two under $200 with a two-year contract. Apple is way ahead of BlackBerry when it comes to selling music and miniapplications, but RIM is trying to catch up. If I had to name a winner, I'd say an iPhone would probably edge out a Storm, but only because Apple's device is in its second generation (who knows what's coming in June?) and has gone through a longer gestation period. Overall, though, the decision could come down to which corporate email services you need to tap into. If your company prefers BlackBerry email, go for the Storm. If it uses Exchange mail, then the iPhone is a great choice.