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Android and BlackBerry

As everyone may know, or should know, I'm the Managing Editor of BBerryDog. My love for BlackBerry devices started out about four years ago and I've never even thought of looking back. Life without smartphones was utterly boring. Recently, I've been catching some flack about how I'm still such a BlackBerry fan, and over how someone can love such an old technology, etc. I loved BlackBerry from the first time I got my hands on one, and to this day, I still love it. It may be boring and old, but it still works perfectly. I don't have to worry about my battery dying in the matter of one day, if I send an email, I know that email goes out, and using the wonderfully crafted fret-style keyboard, I rarely spell anything wrong.

Alas, getting bored by using the same, or generally the same devices over and over for three years, was inevitable. I'd been through about five different BlackBerry devices and they were all the same form factor. I grew tired and wanted to venture out, though never letting my BlackBerry leave my side. My first Android device was the HTC Hero on Sprint, and let me tell you, I loved it. Not enough to keep it past the thirty days, but it was enough to spark further interest in my ever-growing love for technology. On the 29th day, I made the mistake of trading in the Hero for the Palm Pre. Eventually, I got rid of that device as well. WebOS was nice, but it just wasn't as enjoyable as Android. I later moved on to the Eris, Motorola Droid, Nexus One, and am now using a Droid X. As you can see, that tiny little spark ignited into a huge burning flame which I cannot seem to contain. I never knew what drew me to Android until I sat and thought about it. It offers exactly what my BlackBerry lacks, but it also lacks in the ways that my BlackBerry delivers like no other.

Battery life

Since I've become an Android fanatic, the one thing that has disappointed me like no other is battery life. When phones are being crammed with fast, (somewhat) efficient processors, capability nearing that of a computer's, and everything else you never imagined you'd be using your phone to do, something has to give. That one thing that undoubtedly gives is the battery life. Sure, they offer extended batteries, but that completely destroys the design of the phone. If you're carrying a phone the size of the EVO 4G or the Droid X, the last thing you want is a large phone to be any thicker than it already is. For me, extended batteries are a no go. I've used different techniques and honed in on a few different ways to make it through the day, but there is only one way I regularly use. It's a technique I coined from Carlos Graves. I underclock my processor to nearly off when the screen turns off. This seems to give the battery life that extra push that can help me make it through a single day. People have wondered why I complain so about this, but when you come from a device like BlackBerry that is notorious for providing excellent battery life through most of its devices, it's something you come to expect and have a hard time coping with.

Customization

For the longest time, I went off on a BlackBerry theme making tangent. I would make an entire theme just to change one aspect of the stock theme. Or I would have to go back into an existing theme of mine and tweak it via computer just to hush my constant need for change. With Android, I can literally change whatever I want, when I want, from the device itself. Whether it be through a home replacement application, a theme over said application, custom ROMs, or through morphs, I can make my phone look and operate exactly how I want.

Email

This is the kicker for a lot of folks, and quite honestly, Android stacks up. I don't use other services like Yahoo or Hotmail. I typically only use Gmail, and when it comes down to that, Android delivers...some times. I generally get my Gmail faster on my Droid X than on my BlackBerry, but quite honestly that could be due to poor signal in my house. When it comes down to a matter of seconds, it really doesn't matter anymore. Back when I was on my Motorola Droid and my Nexus, I would run into issues of some of my emails never sending. I would never get a reply, and later, upon checking my outbox would find that the emails had never left the device. I've never in the matter of four years had a problem with my emails not sending on my BlackBerry. It may have been user error on Android, but if I click “Send”, my mail should do just that. Email is a time-sensitive and very important thing for many people and BlackBerry is renowned for it's excellent email service. I still use my BlackBerry for replying to emails, but typically use my Droid X for reading them. It's crazy, I know, but it's like I said, this game is a trade-off either way.

Applications

When I first got my BlackBerry, I scavenged the internets for whatever free games and applications I could find. I would usually find a gold mine of a website full of free jar games. Nine times out of ten, I would end up disappointed in the quality of the games. One download file for any phone to run the same application just doesn't work. Either the keys or the trackball wouldn't work properly with the game and I would just have to uninstall and move on. With Android, there is a single, organized catalog for every and any application your heart could ever possibly desire. While they all aren't as visually pleasing as iOS applications tend to be, they tend to keep my wallet fluffed. The down side to Android's open market is the fact that there is a lot of garbage floating around in there. Typically, they get buried by the top downloaded and rated applications, but they are still there and sometimes they will make their journey to the surface.

Multi-tasking

While some of us CrackBerry addicts claim BlackBerry has had multi-tasking since the dawn of time, it was never intuitive until recently. Sure, they've made some revisions and made some definite changes that improved it, but what good is multi-tasking if your phone is going to give you the hourglass of death when you do? The newer generations of Android phones were built with multi-tasking in mind. 1GHz processors and packed with RAM to satisfy the needs of a multi-tasker. The way Android and BlackBerry's multi-tasking is carried out is nearly identical, but without the hardware to provide a smooth experience, it isn't worth it beyond listening to Pandora and BBMing your BFFs.

Camera

I have yet to own an Android powered device with a mediocre camera. From the Hero to the Droid X, every camera on each device took great pictures. Without media driven features, I never really had the need to take pictures with my BlackBerry beyond sharing something on Twitter, but the occasional Kodak moment would arise and I'm left taking pictures with a 3.2MP camera through a pinhole. I can use the X's camera for just about anything. The auto-focus works great and the picture quality is amazing in comparison. While it is still a camera on a phone, it's proof that in the way the cell phone market is headed, there is still ample room for improvement. Just look at Nokia.

Social Media

If you follow me on Twitter (@BBCasper), you know that I'm an addict and tweet a lot. While Android is far better with Twitter clients than BlackBerry, the aged system has delivered superior service for Facebook notifications than any other platform for a long time now. The email delivered for my notifications are turned into application (Facebook) notifications. Upon opening the email, I am taken to the activity on Facebook that is occuring within the app, rather than having to click a link and go to the mobile website like on Android or the iPhone. Even if you open the application on Android and look at your notifications, it still takes you to the website. That, to me, is simply poor execution on something that could have been great. I've grown accustomed to it, but I still typically use my BlackBerry for Facebook. The recent release of TweetDeck for Android has made it somewhat better, but in my honest opinion, it still doesn't stack up.

Conclusion

With services like built-in turn-by-turn navigation and Chrome to Phone, Google definitely has the edge on the market today. Google itself wears so many hats that they're going to be hard to compete with, but my BlackBerry still holds its own in my heart. I could never completely abandon it, but Android has taken its throne in my heart. My BlackBerry has gone the way of the feature phone, and Android has become primary. Whether it be application support, media driven features, or the awesome cameras associated with Android devices, I've been won over and my love for them only grows. The market, however, is becoming diluted. Every few weeks another model is released. That can be taken as a good or bad thing. There is a flavor of Android out there for everyone, but there are now so many that its becoming hard to choose which to go with. At least with BlackBerry, I know my place. Stick with the Bold series, and reap the benefits of better hardware. Shopping for Android is now like shopping for a new set of wheels. You have to think about manufacturer preference, specifications, screen size, build quality, longevity, and a handful of other options. Not everyone wants to carry a laptop-like device in their pocket, and not everyone wants to cramp their brain in trying to decide on which device to buy. There are still reasons for BlackBerry to stay the way they are, but they also need to adapt. I don't see them taking the market by storm any time soon, nor do I see BlackBerry taking its place as my primary anytime soon either. But they have cemented a place in my heart forever. BlackBerry is where it started for me.

(Image via GadgetNews)


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