iPhone 3G vs. Storm: 8 reasons to pick the iPhone

With the new BlackBerry Storm hitting US shelves next week, many smartphone enthusiasts looking to go the touch screen route will soon have to make a decision between RIM's first touch device and Apple's popular iPhone. Here are eight reasons to pick the iPhone.

The iPhone 3G.

The iPhone 3G.

7) Built-in memory

The iPhone 3G currently comes in two versions: the 8GB iPhone (US$199 with new AT&T contract); and the 16GB edition ($299 on contract). Both the 8GB and 16GB iPhone feature internal storage that cannot be swapped out. That means new iPhone users have immediate access to either 8GB or 16GB of storage, and there's no need to purchase or manage multiple memory cards--it also means memory cannot be expanded.

This can be both a bane and a boon for smartphone users, depending on personal preferences and digital media habits. Folks who don't really need any more than 16GB of memory could appreciate the fact that they never need to purchase memory cards or remove any iPhone components to swap or expand memory. However, users with large digital media collections might want to use multiple memory cards so they can access more of their digital content.

6) iTunes App store

With the second-gen iPhone 3G came the iTunes App Store, the sole distribution channel for iPhone software. The App Store makes it simple for iPhone users to locate, download and update third-party software--from a desktop computer or via iPhone--and Apple vets each and every app, so users can trust that they're safe in downloading new programs.

From a software developer's perspective, the App Store may not be an ideal mobile application marketplace, but for users, it's simple, reliable and familiar, since it's a part of iTunes and works accordingly.

BlackBerry Storm owners are expected to get an app store of their own in March 2009, tentatively called the BlackBerry Application Storefront, as well as an on-device Application Center, though details on how both will function and to what degree they'll be available in 2009 are sparse.

5) iTunes integration

From the start, Apple designed the iPhone to work hand-in-hand with its popular iTunes software--in fact an iTunes account is required for new iPhone users. For your average iPhone owner, the relationship is mostly a beneficial one, as it simplifies the transfer of new applications and media; lets you easily modify iPhone settings via desktop computers; and facilitates the acquisition of iPhone-formatted music, video and other content.

Another huge advantage the iPhone and its iTunes partnership have over the BlackBerry Storm: iTunes works on both PCs and Macs. The BlackBerry Desktop Manager, which is the equivalent desktop software for BlackBerry smartphones, currently only runs on PCs, so many advanced functions aren't available to Mac users--though RIM says Mac-specific user tool are coming in 2009.

Also, RIM's Desktop Manager is clunky and unintuitive in comparison to iTunes, so less-than-tech-savvy users could benefit from Apple's familiar interface.

4) Full QWERTY (virtual) keyboard

The iPhone may not have a physical QWERTY keyboard--read: buttons--but the virtual keyboard that appears on screen is always a full QWERTY keyboard, meaning each and every letter/numeral/symbol has its own on-screen key.

That's not the case with the virtual keyboard found on the BlackBerry Storm--unless it's in landscape mode. When held upright, the Storm's touch screen keyboard is a SureType keyboard like the ones found all of RIM's BlackBerry Pearl devices. SureType keyboards have multiple characters on keys, and though RIM's predictive text system can be helpful after you get used to it, it doesn't lend itself particularly well to rapid typing and can be a nightmare for new users.

When the BlackBerry Storm is tilted 90 degree on its side--landscape mode--the virtual keyboard extends itself and becomes a full QWERTY, but changing the orientation in this way greatly reduces screen real estate and makes view certain pages more difficult. Though the iPhone cannot be used to type in landscape mode unless you purchase a third-party app like TouchType, we much prefer the iPhone's existing full QWERTY to the Storm's SureType keyboard.

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Al Sacco

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