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Why I prefer Blackberry over iPhone for business

Mike LazarusSenior Solutions Analyst
Master of Analytics with over 35 years of experience in designing, customising, implementing, and supporting database software and networks
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.


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?


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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
Mike LazarusSenior Solutions Analyst
Master of Analytics with over 35 years of experience in designing, customising, implementing, and supporting database software and networks

Comments (22)

Justin OwensITIL Problem Manager

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.
Mike LazarusSenior Solutions Analyst


There's still many things that you can't do Jailbroken.... I should update the list as I did here:
EirmanChief Operations Manager

How relevant is this article in 2014?

How does the Samsung Galaxy or the Experia compare in your opinion.
Mike LazarusSenior Solutions Analyst


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 ...
EirmanChief Operations Manager


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