Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Consumer Blackberry Solution vs a Nokia Symbian Smartphone

May 9, 2007 by · 25 Comments 

Smartphones Sizes

The objective of this review is to discuss whether or not a non-enterprise consumer truly benefits from using a Blackberry, or whether a Symbian phone would do a better job. As the title implies, this review isn’t as much about specific phones, although I will refer to two phones throughout to prove my points. The two phones I’ve chosen are the Nokia E61 and the Blackberry Pearl. I realize these aren’t the ideal match since there are other Blackberrys with full keyboards that would be a better match, but that’s what I’ve played with so we’ll go with that for now.


I’ve started seeing many celebrities use the Blackberry as the gadget-du-jour, but I just don’t see what benefit they are getting from it when most likely they are merely using the IMAP or POP retrieval capabilities of the service. Yes, it has that “I’m seriously doing business” look to it, but in the end, the Blackberry’s strength is synchronizing with group servers that manage your contacts, calendars, and messages.

A typical Blackberry for the consumer is just the device associated with the internet solution from Blackberry. The user logs into the carrier’s Blackberry portal, configures their POP or IMAP account and then voila, it works. However, there isn’t contact or calendar synchronization because normal users don’t have Exchange servers sitting at home. So, in essence the rest of the Blackberry’s capabilities remain unused. In addition, the device becomes dependent on the Blackberry network (independent from the carrier’s network). As we saw a few weeks ago, a downed Blackberry network = no email. To add to the points, the consumer version only checks your email every 15 minutes and THEN pushes. So it’s really pull + push, instead of what you see in corporate installations.

Now take a Symbian phone (or any other with a mail client). You can configure it just like you would a Blackberry. It will retrieve your email in 15 min intervals, less, or more, and will show you attachments (most new phones can do this), not unlike a Blackberry. Lastly, if you are gung-ho Blackberry user, there are even Blackberry Connect clients for Symbian phones which essentially make your Nokia behave like a consumer-level Blackberry. HOWEVER, by using the Nokia Symbian phone, you can install many more applications.

For example… Maps.

On the Nokia, I can use Lumisoft’s maps, I can use Smart2Go’s maps + GPS, I can use TOM TOM’s maps, and many others.

On the Blackberry, via the J2ME version of Google Maps (also can be used on the Nokia BTW), I get a slower interface that is network dependent, and no ability for GPS connectivity (via carrier implementations in the UK, at least).

  • For Browsing the web via a browser or using the internet connection via any installed application.
    • On the Nokia you have access to 3G + Wifi (E61)
    • On the Blackberry you have GPRS, try browsing the web or downloading heavy attachments with just a GPRS connection.
  • For travel, you can use an unlocked Nokia phone; I don’t know of unlocked Blackberries that work on another network. That’s not the way the system works.
  • For applications, the Symbian platform has many more rich applications and clients. Blackberry far fewer.
  • For VoiP calling, Symbian is the only way to go between the two.
  • With a Symbian phone, you only need a data connection, with a Blackberry you may need a data connection + Blackberry connect service or just the Blackberry service which can be more expensive (this varies by carrier).

In general, the Symbian platform will just blow the Blackberry out of the water at the consumer level. I will admit that Blackberries are very robust and stable, but later generation Nokias are at the same level (current firmware E61s are very stable). For the Enterprise, I will also admit that Blackberry has a good selling point, but that is not the focus of this discussion, for most users don’t have the ability to take advantage of these features.

So, does a consumer-level person really get benefit out of going the Blackberry route? I don’t think so. I think that if you’re getting the Blackberry for your personal use because you think it’s cute.. then sure. But if you want a more powerful device that is more extensible and can truly add value to your communications, the Symbian platform would be a better choice, even if in the end you still use the Blackberry Connect client for Symbian.

For pictures of the various devices and how they compare in size, click here.

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