What is the best device for cellphone and easy text messaging
October 25, 2006 8:16 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I need a pair of Blackberry-type devices (which also function as cell phones) for lots of text-messaging between ourselves throughout the day. We were thinking we wanted Blackberries, but when we went to the Cingular store tonight (we're locked into a Cingular contract until February 2008) the clerk made it sound as though a Windows Mobile device would be better. Any advice?

The Cingular clerk said Blackberries have the virtue of having a shorter learning curve, but he said the drawback of the Blackberry is that you have to pay for Cingular's Internet service to use the Blackberry-brand device, without the device being able to use the full range of Internet applications a Windows Mobile device makes available.

The clerk said there is no appreciable difference between the speed with which you can text message using a Blackberry, versus using a Windows Mobile Device.

Our basic needs for this device are as follows: (1) Cell phone functionality; (2) Easy, quick text messaging and a full keyboard; and (3) [optional, but highly preferred] an easy calendaring function that can be synced with a desktop computer.

So, my question is -- given the above needs, can a Blackberry-brand device satisfy them? Or should we go with Windows Mobile? Is it true that text messaging is as quick and easy on a Windows Mobile device as on a Blackberry? Is there any other device we are not considering that can satisfy these needs?

(The clerk said the only thing we need, for the device to be compatible with Cingular, are that the device use GSM technology and be unlocked. FWIW, the clerk highly recommended we buy this LG F9100 phone.)
posted by jayder to Technology (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have a Nokia e61 that I love. However this may be a bit overkill for your needs. You can buy then unlocked all over the web. The e61 has everything you need plus tons of other functions (my personal favorite being Wi-Fi).

In all honesty, if all you're looking for is a full keyboard, phone functionality and calendar sync functionality you should be ok with just about any of the QWERTY cells floating around these days.
posted by ASM at 8:32 PM on October 25, 2006

One advantage of using the BB, if you're going to be doing a lot of texting back and forth, is that you can do it via email or PIN messages (blackberry to blackberry messages) and not have to pay for SMS usage fees.

Also, Windows Mobile annoys the bejesus out of me.
posted by rbs at 8:41 PM on October 25, 2006

Response by poster: rbs writes "One advantage of using the BB, if you're going to be doing a lot of texting back and forth, is that you can do it via email or PIN messages (blackberry to blackberry messages) and not have to pay for SMS usage fees."

That's something I've been wondering about. Is this PIN messaging, Blackberry to Blackberry, available through any carrier that supports Blackberry devices (such as Cingular), without incurring the SMS fees?
posted by jayder at 8:46 PM on October 25, 2006

I have a Windows Mobile phone (MDA on T-Mobile) and I've played around with friends' Blackberries and I have to say that the Blackberry wins hands down.

It does what it's supposed to do (messaging) and it does it well. It's much quicker, snappier and easier to use than a WM phone and if I hadn't spend so damn much on my phone I'd dump it and get a BB.

My phone was sluggish and needed software and OS upgrades from the get go. I've upgraded the software 3 times in 4 months and although it has gotten better, overall it's no match for a Blackberry.
posted by eatcake at 9:13 PM on October 25, 2006

The Blackberry is simply an indispensible device. It is so much faster. It works so easily. The only drawback is the tasks, which suck. For everthing else, it dominates.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:50 PM on October 25, 2006

I too, have an e61 that I love, and I agree with ASM.
posted by Kwantsar at 9:51 PM on October 25, 2006

Get a T-Mobile Sidekick. It has the wins of the Windows Mobile devices over the Blackberry (more complete internet features, etc etc), without costing as much as those devices do. Also, the keyboard is better, and the OS basically never crashes. I've had one for three years.
posted by autojack at 10:00 PM on October 25, 2006

Oh, oops. I didn't notice that you're in a contract with Cingular until '08. Stupid contracts. Forget the SK :(
posted by autojack at 10:01 PM on October 25, 2006

Can't tell you which one is better (although i would assume that the WM would have sluggishness as a drawback....) If you get a full Cingular data plan, unlimited SMS messages are included.
posted by stratastar at 10:20 PM on October 25, 2006

I had a WM5 device this past year and came to absolutely loathe it. The SMS via Pocket Outlook is subpar and overall WM5 was incredibly sluggish (even with a 416MHz processor, which surprised me) and (still! after 5 versions!) crashy. As an extra kick in the nuts the cameraphone functionality and video was laggy to the point of being nearly useless and the phone functionality was similarly bad for dialing and answering.

I've recently switched to a Blackberry Pearl on Cingular and after about a month, am still loving it. I've also played around with a friend's 8700 - in both cases the Blackberry OS is super-responsive, it's texting is impressive (lots of very thoughtful shortcuts, a visually ugly but surprisingly functional context-driven menuing system) and the email delivery (w/ IMAP IDLE support) + PIN messaging (yes, this is available on all carriers and gives free direct BB to BB messaging) + threaded SMS is great.

So to answer your questions:
1. No, for the love of God and all that is holy stay away from WM5.
2. It's absolutely not true that texting is as quick and easy on a Windows Mobile phone. It's more clicks, not as well thought for typing or cut and pasting and other operations etc., slower to load and switch into, and doesn't offer threaded views (well, the new Treo 750wx does and I believe a hacked version is floating around... but that still doesn't bring WM5 devices to the same level as BBs).

In any case, the Blackberry wins hands down. Also, it runs Google Maps Mobile (and other J2ME Apps) much better than my WM5 did.

Another bonus for me is that RIM has paid for a blanket Pocket Mac license so I can sync on OS X flawlessly (something that never got working w/ WM5). They both sync fine on Windows.
posted by lhl at 11:52 PM on October 25, 2006

Palm Treo does all that - and can run Windows or the traditional Palm software that hotsyncs to either its own desktop calendar and contacts (Palm Desktop), Entourage on a Mac or Outlook on a PC (if you don't fill it full of bloatware it will work fine). You can even get a fold-up full length keyboard and dispose of your computer altogether (which is what I've done) as it also handles email has a web browser and runs Word, Excel and Powerpoint (among others).

It's pretty easy to use, BUT has had some irritating defects - but Palm usually rectifies problems pretty quickly (in my experience).
posted by strawberryviagra at 6:17 AM on October 26, 2006

i picked up a sidekick 3 for the sake of simplicity. i describe it as a kids' blackberry to friends.. but it does what i need (lots of texting, some gmail checking, etc.) and does it well. i didn't want the added complexity (and functionality) of a windows media device or blackberry.

worth considering at least.
posted by whatitis at 11:54 AM on October 26, 2006

I have the Cingular 8215 and am not impressed, it is very buggy and locks up a lot, and is too thick to fit in a suit pocket.
posted by LarryC at 12:30 PM on October 26, 2006

Another shout for Palm/Treo's threaded views of text-messages -- it's hard to state what a difference this makes, it's like using a chat program instead of a phone.
posted by Hogshead at 12:38 PM on October 26, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for everybody's input. This is great information!

I'm really glad I asked this question. The guy at the Cingular store was big on Windows Mobile devices, but I was skeptical because I hadn't heard anybody else sing the praises of Windows Mobile. Blackberry owners are so fanatical about the devices, I figured there must be some reason for their love.
posted by jayder at 3:51 PM on October 26, 2006

I have a Palm Treo for work, and I just purchased a Blackberry Pearl for my own use. If you can wait until Cingular has it, I would very much recommend the Pearl. If you can deal with the smaller keyboard, then it is a great phone. (The keyboard has 2 letters on each key, which makes predictive text much more reliable, but keeps the overall size of the phone down.) And if you use Google Talk, you won't have to pay any SMS fees, since Google Talk goes over network traffic as opposed to the other services which use SMS.

The blackberry does what it is supposed to.
posted by benjh at 12:41 PM on October 28, 2006

I second getting the Blackberry. I would recommend the Blackberry Pearl, you get used to the predictive text in a day or two. With a Blackberry data plan you are able to send unlimited e-mail or PIN messages for free.

@jayder - yes the PIN messages do work cross-carrier. Both users have to be on a Blackberry data plan.
posted by SupaDave at 9:23 AM on January 17, 2007

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