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Why I prefer Blackberry over iPhone for business

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Mike Lazarus
Has been in IT since 1980 and CRM for over 30 years. Helping small and medium businesses become more successful through client relationships
Having now spent 3 months on the iPhone, I am at a loss as to how anyone would choose this device for business use. After many years using Blackberry phones (several 7xxx models and, until recently, an 8100 Pearl) I have reluctantly had to switch to an iPhone (3GS 32GB) in order to test some software. There are so many functions that I relied on that are just not available on the iPhone. I acknowledge that some of these might be specific to my carrier and some might be due to the actual way I prefer to operate. I have come to use, and rely on, my Blackberry as a virtual office and communications centre that allows me to be fully in touch when on the road.

So I thought I would put together a list and see if any of the iPhone experts can tell me if I'm doing it wrong or if this device is really so flawed and I’m immune to the Kool-aid.

Hardware

The device certainly seems well-built and solid… like most of the Blackberry phones (except the Flip). But dropping the iPhone on it’s face (without a protective case) will likely need a replacement
Having to use a pin to insert/replace the sim card just seems odd. Not having this “Ikea special tool” I had to wait a day to get a pin before I could use the device
As does having no way to replace the battery. This became a real issue when I found how limited the battery life is compares to the Blackberry - about 7 hours in the iPhone compared to several days on the Blackberry. When travelling with the Blackberry, I’d take one extra charge battery and have over a week using it is my sole means of communications
Argh! A non-standard USB cable… and they don’t include a separate one for the power supply – so moving the phone from the PC to a wall power means buying another cable or carrying the supplied one with me. I can only see this an an artificial way for Apple to make some extra on the cable.
No slot to use for an additional memory stick seems wrong for a supposedly powerful device. It makes sharing data with other systems and platforms much more limited
Even with carrying the cable and without ability to use external memory, it has 32GB – but still can’t be used as a memory stick or external drive via USB (except for photos). What a waste! I should have purchased the one with 8GB
Shouldn’t all phone cameras now have a flash and zoom?

Setup

I found the setup to be very easy. Although I am disappointed in having to use iTunes for everything
There doesn’t seem to be a way to setup multiple devices for a business over the air
Connecting to my Wi-Fi was pretty easy once I’d changed the settings. My Wi-Fi supports IPSec security which the iPhone doesn’t
Adding email accounts (Exchange and POP3) was remarkably easy – it was fortunate I have OWA
No way to roll-out, administer, secure or wipe the device remotely

Data

Unlike the US, the iPhone is available here in Australia through all the major carriers. But, unlike with the Blackberry, none of them offer unlimited data. I guess this means more searching for Wi-Fi spots
But don’t worry US… the call drop-outs and disconnects that people in the US seem to think are related to the AT&T network – they happen here with the iPhone on all networks.
I’ve found that downloading the same amount of data (email, web pages, etc), the iPhone uses between 5 and 20 times the bandwidth. This might explain why carriers are reluctant to give unlimited data. It also explains why the iPhone is so much slower at performing similar tasks.

Security

When it comes to security, there is no contest. See the Blackberry Official Statement
The iPhone requires MobileME in order to remotely wipe a lost phone. For remote-wiping on a BlackBerry, you can do this through BES, BIS or customers can opt for an emergency feature where their phone automatically erases all of its data if it’s been off the network for a set amount of time. This is powerful as it helps protect against someone who steals the phone and pops the sim card before trying to access the data.

Operation and Interface

No multi-tasking. That means no back-ground sync for databases or the ability to have an application run a task in the background which doing something else in the foreground
This also means you can’t really use it for Instant Messaging with products like Skype, Windows Messenger, etc
Not even task-switching. Applications close and have to re-open (then wait till they get up-to-date data). I have lost work when wanting to check email or answering the phone.
Why can’t all Settings be accessed from within the applications. Having to check both the iPhone settings application and any option in an application itself just doesn’t make sense.
The Blackberry menu makes accessing more common tasks faster.
The scrolling, while pretty, actually makes it slower to get to the actual point you want
The scroll wheels to set the time or alarm, while a pretty novelty the first few times take more time to set than just typing the digits.
Maybe my thumbs are a bit big, but even after several months I keep pressing Shift or Del accidently (depending on the side of the screen) - even in Landscape. Worse, even though used to a much more narrow device, I still can’t get the right keys as fast in Portrait mode… but in same apps, Landscape isn’t an option – this slows data entry.
In these days of internet shouldn’t the period and @ be on the main layout? Sure it has the same double Space for period at the end of sentence, but this isn’t great for a URL or email address
The spell check only gives one option… what about other words that are similar?
The spell check on the Blackberry can also include all the data from the address book – your contacts names and companies. Makes typing much easier.

Phone

When you start entering the data in the Blackberry phone, it auto searches the address book (first, last and company name) and as you scroll, shows each contact’s numbers to click and call. With the iPhone, you have to go through additional steps with this
The “End Call” button is large and seems to be right where my check touches the phone if not using hands free or via headset. This has caused me to accidentally hang up prematurely on a few calls

Contacts

It is neat that you can add additional phone/address fields, but unfortunately these don’t sync back to Exchange.
You can’t sort by Company or even view that field in the Contacts application. While you can search by that field it's a bit harder to find the right contact
Searching for a Contact means you have to scroll all the way back to the top. With the Blackberry, you just start typing and it will show the contacts that have a matching First, Last or Company Name – no matter where you are in the list. The Blackberry search is also MUCH faster
When my Exchange server was down, I couldn’t access any contact and they had to be fully downloaded when it was up again… shouldn’t these be stored locally? I haven’t tried to see if I lose all this data if I’m out of radio range.

Email (Exchange 2003 is my Primary server)

An email received by Exchange, sent via BES to the Blackberry is nearly instantaneous. It can take considerable time to appear on the iPhone unless I open the folder.
There is no Home screen notification of having received emails, requiring you to manually scroll through the email folders after having left the device alone or while in a meeting.
When viewing some wide HTML emails, you have the options of the text being way to small to read or zooming it and having to scroll back and forwards each line. The Blackberry method of the user being able to select the font for all emails might make the rendering less accurate, but makes the emails much easier to read and respond faster.
I have about 180 folders in Exchange with rules that file incoming emails automatically. I had to manually select each folder for Push… and, when my Exchange server went down, other than having no local data, I also had to re-select all the folders. why doesn’t this get stored?
The Blackberry Message List allows me to see all emails received (and include SMS in the list if you want), no-matter which folder. But on the iPhone, I have to scroll through the folder list and know the unread figures of each folder to check for any new
File to Email Folders - to file a message to a folder on the BB, I just have to type the first few characters of the folder. The next time I file a similar email, it remembers the folder I users for that user/subject from last time. With the iPhone I have to manually scroll down the list every time
There is no option to set detailed filters for which email you want (by sender, size, times, etc)
No option to set/change Exchange “Out of Office” auto reply
From the email list on the Blackberry, I can also click and select to call the contact (if they exist in my address book) or to forward via another system (SMS, Facebook, etc). On the iPhone you have to open the email, then go to the Contact to call/SMS and can only Forward via email.

Browser

While the iPhone does render many pages more accurately, this ironically makes many harder to read
When viewing wide pages, you have the options of the text being way to small to read or zooming it and having to scroll back and forwards each line. The Blackberry column view might not display a page as the publisher intended, but makes them considerably easier to read fast.
Apple don’t seem interested in Flash whereas RIM and Adobe have announce a partnership to improve the support for rich content through these technologies - RIM and Adobe to Simplify Delivery of Rich Content and Applications for BlackBerry Smartphones
The Blackberry menu makes it MUCH easier to copy a URL or even to send that URL via another app – Email, SMS or even non-core apps like Facebook, Twitter, other social media or Instant Messaging

Notifications and Ringtones

The Blackberry LED displays in different colours to let you know of an event without even touching the device
For more detail, clicking once on the keypad will show you how many items you’ve received – separated by emails, SMS, missed calls, Facebook Messages, Windows Messenger IMs or Skype chats. The iPhone will only show SMSs and missed calls until you open each app to check.
Why do I have to mess around changing the media formats in iTunes for tracks I already own? The Blackberry can use any media file for a ringtone
The Blackberry also allows different ringtones for each event type
The iPhone doesn’t allow different settings (ringtone, volume, number of repeats, etc) for each event
On the Blackberry you can create different Profiles to set all the notifications to the ringtone, volume, LED use, number of vibrations and how often to repeat. The iPhone doesn’t provide the flexibility of choices let alone the ability to change all the settings in a couple of clicks (e.g. when you go into a meeting).
The Blackberry even allows exceptions for specific users … eg having the device in Silent mode except for certain important contacts

Multi-media

This is an area where, with it’s heritage in the iPod, I would expect it to excel… but even here, there are items better done on the Blackberry. For example, the Blackberry allows you to jump to the previous track, beginning of the current track or next track by holding the volume controls on either phone or headset. Much easier than having to get the device from your pocket and turn it on to make those changes
While they both play video, the wider screen of the iPhone is an area that it wins. Although I don’t watch enough videos or TV on the device to make this much of an advantage
It’s annoying to have to go via iTunes to add/remove media. On the Blackberry, you can view it as a USB drive and copy the files into folders of your choosing

Social Media and Instant Messaging

The lack of background tasks seriously reduces the option for Instant Messaging, which I prefer to SMS in many ways.
It also means when starting up a social media app you have to wait till it updates the information as the applications can’t sync in the background
While apps like Facebook, LinkedIN and some of the Twitter apps I have tested are comparable in the functions, the do miss some areas that reduces their effectiveness:
         o Notifications are only available from some apps… and even then are not reliable (as above)
          o Facebook only shows last Notification on Home screen. To see if you have more, you must go to the app
          o both Facebook and LinkedIN have the ability to import their contacts to the phone… but LinkedIN only as new contacts (I already have most in my address book) and neither can link to a Contact that I might have with a different name from their social media account.
          o They both take some time to sync, but at least on the Blackberry, this happens in the background
          o The FaceBook app won’t bring in the email address on phone (saying it’s a privacy issue), but this is done on the Blackberry
          o If using Social Media to schedule events, the iPhone can’t sync these with the calendar (the Blackberry does this and in the background)
          o The Blackberry API has permitted some applications to create dedicated fields in the address book to link the contacts to their social media profiles

Software Development

The requirement for all apps to only install via their AppStore means that developers can’t get selected groups of users to test code before release. While this can be done by “Jailbreaking” the phone this is not something you want to tell users to do.
Update: I’ve just been informed that it is possible to beta test software, although with an unnecessarily complicated procedure to create an Ad Hoc iPhone Apps Distribution
The AppStore delivery requirement reduces the possibility for more complex licensing models
Apple’s certification process seems to be easy for trivial apps (like iFart), but more stringent on more complex products. They also don’t seem to want to tell a developer if a particular function will pass till the product is complete and the money spent.

Conclusion

The iPhone is a very good consumer device. It's easier and faster to setup and to grasp the basics
The iTunes AppStore makes it easier for the non-technical to find apps in the one place
There are many more games and personal apps available
The larger screen nearly makes videos watchable
But it's poor email email functionality makes it unworkable for heavy email use (especially with Exchange and losing settings when the server reboots)
The poor battery life makes it a bad choice for the truly mobile
It's lack of muti-tasking prevents time saving through background sync of local databases and eliminates proper IM use. There are rumours of this being added in OS4, but this adds fears of how it will affect performance and battery life
The lack of real integration between apps prevents many powerful functions and reduces social media use
Finally, with business data, the security is an issue that should be carefully considered

Reprinted from http://blog.glcomputing.com.au/2010/02/why-i-prefer-blackberry-over-iphone-for.html
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22 Comments
 

Expert Comment

by:taftelectric
If you don't have BES, integration with Exchange is seriously weak (POP3 or IMAP).  For any organization without the means for BES (or the number of blackberrys to necessitate it), the iPhone is worlds ahead of the blackberry on Exchange integration.

We have Exchange 2007 and iPhones, and haven't ever seen the settings get messed up after a reboot.  User support maintenance (on mobile devices) has never been easier, once it is set up, the users haven't needed support except in case of a reset.  At my previous employer we had BES and the process of adding them to BES, sending the activation invitation, initial setup was a pain.  With the iPhones, we type in the server address and credentials, and it syncs.  One step.

User support outside of email and messaging is minimal as well.  The iPhone is limited on content and apps but that's why it is so stable.  If you don't need custom apps I would always recommend the iPhone.  The Droid also synced up pretty easily with Exchange as well.
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Expert Comment

by:younghv
GLComputing - thank you for taking the time to put this together. I read through it twice and am having another go at it.
Great information and quite helpful.

"Yes" vote above.
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Author Comment

by:Mike Lazarus
taftelectris:

BES is now free for up to 25 users. No one with an Exchange server can say they don't have the means for it.
See: http://na.blackberry.com/eng/services/business/server/express/

Try opening your iPhone email which the server is rebooting... the settings you lose are the push folders. I have about 150 folders, 80 of which I push. I have to re-select the 80 folders.

Can the Droid change the Exchange "Out of Office" message? Certainly the iPhone can't.
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Expert Comment

by:dlancelot
I found this article very interesting indeed.  Thank you for the detailed write-up.  I have been trying to get my brother off of his iPhone "kool-aid" :P for some time now.  I have been a BB user for a few years now, and have seen many iterations.  This iPhone product seemed a little flashy...I find it funny that it can't view flash...lol
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Author Comment

by:Mike Lazarus
Or have a camera flash :-)

Many of the items (eg both flash items and multi-tasking) or really due to the battery life. Steve Jobs has said that Adobe Flash and full multi-tasking would reduce battery life to under 90 minutes... a problem as it already has the worst battery life of nearly any phone.

To be fair, it is easier to set up and find apps all in one place... and many consumers don't need the power functions unless heavy email users or needing security
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Expert Comment

by:Glen Knight
GLComputing,

Whilst there is some great information here it's not all technically correct.

For example, whilst BES is available for up to 25 users free of charge it does require an additional server and some additional configuration, or BIS which can be costly on some networks and also doesnt provide full functionality.  Which of you are not familiar with it isn't straight forward.  Unlimited data plans are a thing of the past here in the UK, they cap it to 500-750MB depending on network.

Having checked my bills for the last 24 months I have never gone over 300MB and I consider myself to be a heavy user.  I receive all my EE emails to my phone and this is easily 500+ per day.

This is probably the biggest single reason why small business users (and many medium size enterprises) opt for the iPhone instead.  It works! And without any additional configuration.

And now with the new IOS4 there is the multiple-tasking feature.  With the iPhone 4 we have a flash camera.

The battery life is a pain but you can get a jacket that doubles the life of the phone and adds extra protection.  I also have a "jolt" that adds an additional 2 hours if required.  As for charging, I am yet to visit an office that doesn't have an iPod cable.

The iPhone really is an all in 1 device.  I have tom-tom sat-nav on my iPhone, along with the ability to sync with multiple exchange email accounts, sync my tasks, notes and adjust my out-of-office (using a little app called iMExchange.

I also have a network toolkit, telnet app, remote desktop app and teamviewer.  Along with an FTP app, quickOffice etc I have never found myself saying "there needs to be an app for this".

You are spot on with the screen (been there, done that.  Although it can be repaired for a lot less than buying a new iPhone.

The "pin" for getting the SIM card out is normally included in the box (it took me a while to find it the first time - it's tucked around the butterfly flap) but a paper clip works equally well, again found in most offices.

Thanks
D
demazter
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Expert Comment

by:Glen Knight
I also forgot to mention that remote wipe of the iPhone is possible with simply using Exchange server.  MobileMe is not required.
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Author Comment

by:Mike Lazarus
Thanks demazter,

I do intend to do some updating specific for iOS4 and the new hardware.

A couple of points for you:
1. BES (up to 25 users) can run on the Exchange server. It doesn't require an additional server
2. Despite Apple's marketing to the contrary, iOS4 does not provide full multi-tasking. It allows some tasks in apps specifically written for it to be called in the background
3. I would hesitate to connect my iPhone to other PCs for charging... depending on how Windows is setup, it can automatically copy ALL the photos from the iPhone to the PC without asking and without any security on the phone to prevent it

My biggest issue at this time is having 180 folders in Exchange and emails from different sources are automatically moved to their folder. While iOS4 does allow combined Inbox, it still lacks a combined Unread Mail folder.
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Expert Comment

by:dlancelot
I guess if someone is going to keep drinking Steve's koolaid, they may want to get a cover for their iphone 4 because it may not work (as a phone) otherwise lmfao:

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/apples-iphone-4-antenna-flap-overblown-hubris-or-simple-testing-mistake/36681?tag=nl.e539
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Expert Comment

by:Glen Knight
>>1. BES (up to 25 users) can run on the Exchange server. It doesn't require an additional server

Very true, but in my experience very few people want to install the BES software in their exchange server.  It can also have a negative impact when installed on a Small Business Server.

>>3. I would hesitate to connect my iPhone to other PCs for charging... depending on how Windows is setup, it can automatically copy ALL the photos from the iPhone to the PC without asking and without any security on the phone to prevent it

iPhone require iTunes to sync, it also will prompt to re-sync your device with the current iTunes.  By default it will not do this automatically, and will actually wipe the contents of the phone rather than copy it to their computer.  Besides I was actually referring to borrowing the cable to use with my own laptop which is always with me :)

>>My biggest issue at this time is having 180 folders in Exchange and emails from different sources are automatically moved to their folder. While iOS4 does allow combined Inbox, it still lacks a combined Unread Mail folder.

This is true, but this is also a limitation of most devices that use activesync rather than the iPhone itself.
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Author Comment

by:Mike Lazarus
1. BES is fine now on SBS ... and much faster and more reliable than Microsoft's ActiveSync as used by iPhone

3. Not for photos... you can sync all the photos form Windows WITHOUT iTunes and WITHOUT any phone setting to prevent it (on the Blackberry, you have to ok it)

The Blackberry (like Outlook) has an Unread Mail folder... it's much more efficient.

Not to mention, the BB notifications are far more flexible.
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Author Comment

by:Mike Lazarus
Don't get me wrong... the iPhone is much easier to do the initial setup and access the basic functions. But not so good for advanced productivity functions.

The iPhone is in some ways a better devices for low end users without significant email, security, battery or IM requirements.
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Expert Comment

by:dlancelot
Good point on the battery...that one hits home with me.  I was a heavy BB user, and had to get the advanced Seidio battery for mine because my BT headset would kill the phone in about 24 hours...which would give me a chance to charge it nearly every day.  With the Seidio and heavy BT useage, it gave me 3-4 days!  Without BT useage (like most iphone users I know) I would get 7-10 days of heavy useage!

I think the iPhone is a toy...not for serious, or advanced users who are using the phone feature a lot, or like some of you have said, advanced features.  If they're using it for twitter, facebook, surfing the web, taking the odd photo, etc. then the iPhone is a great tool.  But for the corporate world, I think it won't fit.
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Expert Comment

by:Glen Knight
>>1. BES is fine now on SBS ... and much faster and more reliable than Microsoft's ActiveSync as used by iPhone

Activesync is working by default nothing extra needs to be done BES uses MSDE which DOES interfere with SBS.  That's a well known fact.

>>The Blackberry (like Outlook) has an Unread Mail folder... it's much more efficient.

this is simply a view as it is in outlook.

I think I already covered the battery issue in my previous post.  The I'M issue, not sure what that's, I use BeeHive and YIM and they both work very well, as does Skype for cheap international calls when wireless is available.  Not sure if blackberry allows skype?

>>3. Not for photos... you can sync all the photos form Windows WITHOUT iTunes and WITHOUT any phone setting to prevent it (on the Blackberry, you have to ok it)

certainly does not, the iPhone requires iTunes for any type of syncing, you cannot even use the iPhone as a mass storage deduce without installing iTunes.
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Expert Comment

by:Glen Knight
Why do you think the iPhone won't fit in the corporate world?
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Author Comment

by:Mike Lazarus
1. I didn't know the BES causes problems... certainly not on my setup where a received email arrived on the Berry many minutes before on the iPhone.

The Unread Mail folder/view is on the Blackberry... not on the iPhone. Unless you're saying this can be viewed on the iPhone?

I can send AND RECEIVE Skype calls on WiFi AND 3G on the Blackberry... and have been able to do this for a couple of years. On the iPhone, you can only receive Skype calls/IMs when Skype is running due to lack of real multitasking

Re your comment about iTunes... this is NOT correct for photos. The photos folder is fully available for mass-storage (as a camera device) without iTunes and has no security
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Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
>>There are so many functions that I relied on that are just not available on the iPhone.

What functions are not on the iPhone that you relied on when you had a Blackberry?

>>The “End Call” button is large and seems to be right where my cheek touches the phone if not using hands free or via headset. This has caused me to accidentally hang up prematurely on a few calls.

My old phone (iphone 3Gs) when placed next to your ear, the screen switches off so you can't hang up on a call.  Do you not hold the phone to your ear?  There are light-sensitive aeas on the iPhone near the top of the front screen (which can be seen in seriously bright light).  These control the screen when on call and turn off the screen so you can't hang up.

>>•When my Exchange server was down, I couldn’t access any contact and they had to be fully downloaded when it was up again… shouldn’t these be stored locally? I haven’t tried to see if I lose all this data if I’m out of radio range.

Have you ever flown on a plane and had to trun Flight Mode on?  My contacts stayed on my phone for the entire flight from the UK to the US in March to visit EE Core Conference, so I don't understand why they should drop off your iPhone if you server was down.  Not saying this does not happen (I have a reliable Exchange Server).

Personally, I can't stand the Blackberry (tried one for a bout 3 weeks and then threw it away) and have now switched back to a Windows Mobile (WM) phone from the iPhone.  Neither worked for me personally and I think the biggest issue with any phone is that everyone's needs are different and what I need from a phone is not what you need from a phone, nor is it what my wife needs from a phone.

For me, if I want to take a photo - I will use a camera, so if the phone has a flash / camera built-in then it won't get much use from me.  Although the quality is improving, the time from pressing the 'take a picture' button to the actual shutter opening / closing is way to long to use a phone as a camera, so much so that you miss the moment with a phone.

There were things I loved about the iphone.  It was brilliant for web browsing and email (the WM phone will probably never get as good as the iPhone there).  It pings every time you receive an email in ANY folder, not just the inbox : )

There were also the things I hated about the iPhone.  The lack of being able to create a spreadsheet without having to have 'An App' for that.  The inability to use my remote control software to reach my customers computers which I can use on my WM Phone.  The inability to use our Time Tracking software to track my time when on a customers site which easily syncs to our accounting software.

I can now sync Tasks to my phone 'without an app'.
I can place files onto my phone without fear of losing them (which happened on the iPhone).
I can tether my phone to my laptop or use the 'Wi-Fi Router' feature on the Windows Mobile phone without having to pay my airtime provider extra money for the privilege (had to with the iPhone).
I can use a stylus on the Windows Mobile phone to use the keyboard (or change to a WM phone with a real keyboard) - try using a stylus / pen on an iPhone and see how quickly you will get frustrated.
I can also now set Out Of Office from my phone, which I did on Monday when I was sick
Text messages now arrive in my inbox in Outlook on my Desktop
I can change the 'Skin' of the WM phone to one that is more customisable.  No choice on an iPhone to change the 'Skin' short of 'jailbreaking it' invalidating the warranty.
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Expert Comment

by:Justin Owens
Honestly, with the advent of iOS4, my only remaining, personal gripe with iPhone is the lack of functionality in accepting meeting requests if not connected to an Exchange account.  My wife uses Outlook and sends me meeting requests to let me know about dr appts, etc.  I simply cannot open them on my iPhone.  Apple tells me they have no intention to ever support that functionality, and they won't let other apps integrate into the email functionality (as far as I know).  

On the flip side of that, as an Exchange admin I cannot tell you how may messed up meetings result from someone changing an already accepted meeting from their iPhone.

Other than those two features, I would say that if jailbroken, the iPhone is a superior product for business use.  If not jailbroken, I would stick with BES.
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Author Comment

by:Mike Lazarus
There's still many things that you can't do Jailbroken.... I should update the list as I did here:
http://blog.glcomputing.com.au/2010/02/why-i-prefer-blackberry-over-iphone-for.html
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Expert Comment

by:Eirman
How relevant is this article in 2014?

How does the Samsung Galaxy or the Experia compare in your opinion.
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Author Comment

by:Mike Lazarus
It is a bit out of date ... Blackberry still has the lead in security, but most of the other areas would be different.

I might look at doing the S5 V the new Sony when they're out ... the specs seem to favour the Xperia.

But really, the differences now are more about personal taste than clear flaws ...
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Expert Comment

by:Eirman
Thanks
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