Which of these smartphones is best for me?
April 5, 2008 8:16 PM   Subscribe

I'm finally making the jump to a smartphone, and am looking for advice on choosing the right model. I'm an AT&T customer and have narrowed it down to the following: BlackBerry Curve 8310, Motorola Q, Blackjack II, Palm Centro.

I'm mostly focusing on the Blackberry and the Motorola, as I'm much less familiar with the other two. Each of these models costs roughly the same with my upgrade discount from AT&T. I do not plan to use the phone for any sort of enterprise/office functions...I'm more of a power personal user. My needs:

-Personal email, preferably of the "push" variety. Easy access to my gmail is a must. I've used the java gmail mobile client on my current phone and it works well enough, but I want instant notification of new messages, whether that involves using a blackberry.net address, IMAP, whatever.
-Rough ability to browse the web when in a pinch. The more intuitive and less clunky, the better.
-Moible AOL Instant Messenger that functions similarly to the Windows client (the version of AIM available on my current SE W810i is rather unimpressive).
-Ability to interact with social networking sites (namely Facebook) would be fantastic. It appears that Blackberry has a dedicated Facebook app - I'm unsure about the others.
-A QWERTY keyboard that feels intuitive.
-A relatively small form-factor. If it fits in my jeans pocket, even better.
-Ability to run java games (I'm guessing they all have this) and take photos (video is optional). Playing MP3s is not so important, although ability to use MP3s as ringtones would nice.
-Last but not least, decent functionality for voice calls.

I'm not interested in an iPhone at this time, but if you have other AT&T smartphone suggestions besides the four above, I'm all ears. Full list here. If you have used one of the models above, please let me know your experiences. Thanks.
posted by iamisaid to Technology (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'm a BlackBerry user, so some points from that side:

- does push gmail via BlackBerry Internet Service, no need for the client
- has a browser that is a little clunky but improving
- doesn't have the best first party client for AIM, but for third party I love JiveTalk
- the keyboard on the 83xx series is probably my favorite out of all of them
- relatively small as far as smartphones go
- check on the games (bplay.com is my source), photos (with video), mp3s and mp3 ringtones
- great call quality in my opinion
posted by saraswati at 8:26 PM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I am a former Blackberry 8800 user and a current Blackjack II owner and oh, how I miss my Blackberry. The features that made the BB a snap to use are missing from the Blackjack. It is less refined and is far less intuitive to use. I also used a Palm product, the Treo 680, for a spell and even though it was a big step up from a standard flip phone, it doesn't offer a lot of horsepower in it's personal information management features. Though I've not used the 8310, I definitely have a crush on it and if I hadn't spent my gadget allowance on this *(^&-tastic Blackjack, I'd be all over it like stink on a dog.

Good luck with your search. Once you have a smartphone, you'll never want to go back.
posted by heathergirl at 8:54 PM on April 5, 2008

Don't like the "Tilt" (actually the HTC Tytn II)? I have a Sprint Mogul (basically a Tytn I platform device). Very pleased. Trivially hackable, lots of emulators and an 8GB flash card means I rarely run out of new games.

One of the best IMsfor the WM platform is something like IM+, which logs you in simultaneously to AIM, MSN, YIM, GoogleTalk, Jabber, MySpace, etc and collects all buddies and presences into an integrated list.
posted by meehawl at 9:42 PM on April 5, 2008

I've had a centro for a few months, and I like it for being cheap and tiny with good voice quality. It fits in my pocket much more easily than the old Sidekick! The fast internet connection from sprint is pretty nice too. Video and photo quality are pretty nice. It has an mp3 player and a microSD slot for extra media storage, and I'm pretty sure you can import mp3s as ringtones, but I've never used either.

But: the keyboard is too small to use easily (and I have small fingers). Push email uses up your text message quota (and doesn't work all that well anyway). The JVM doesn't run well enough to support gmail's java client or Opera Mini. I haven't tried any java games on it.

The built-in web browser isn't the greatest, but it works well enough for most purposes, including facebook mobile and gmail mobile. I use it a LOT. The AIM/Yahoo Chat/Windows Messenger client is acceptable, but, as with push email, the messages are charged against your texting quota. There's a pretty nice shareware Jabber/Google Chat client. The calendar/organizer is a bit clunky but I use it regularly and it helps keep me organized.

On the whole, the clunky email situation is my only serious complaint: I don't use the push feature because I didn't want to spring for unlimited texting; the Sprint email software refuses to automatically check your mailbox more than once per HOUR, though you can manually check as often as you want; and checking gmail via POP takes about two minutes(!) and frequently fails. This could be gmail's fault; I have trouble connecting via POP from my desktop too.) And since Palm OS doesn't multitask you can't do anything else for those two minutes without aborting the connection. (There are some highly rated shareware email programs for Palm that I still haven't gotten around to trying.
posted by moonmilk at 9:55 PM on April 5, 2008

I have a Q. It's pretty nice, fairly cheap, intuitive, and lots of add-on apps. The downside is that if you don't live someplace with EVDO, your browser speeds sort of suck.

I can't complain, it does what I need it to do and does a pretty good job. My first one died in 2 weeks though...my second one hasn't had any problems.
posted by TomMelee at 10:20 PM on April 5, 2008

Best answer: Really, there's no comparison. BB all the way. If price isn't an issue, go with the gold standard.
posted by purephase at 11:59 PM on April 5, 2008

I have used and/or owned the Q, the BlackBerry 8703, Blackberry 8830, and the iPhone. I much prefer the iPhone. But of the others, the 8703 is better then the other two.

Here is what I like about the 8703. The click wheel is wonderful for navigating through the functions. I like a lot better then thumb wheel. The keyboard is much better to type on then the 8830. I know you weren't interested in either of these specifically, but I thought I would pass along those points so you could spend some time with the keyboards and navigation before you made your decision as they both drove me crazy.

Telephone services at the place I work said they have lots of issues with the Q not holding up as well as other phones. Take that for what it is worth. Although I heard the new versions were a little better.

Overall, I love the BlackBerry for email. It really does that well. The browser is passable in a pinch, but nothing like that iPhone. Based on your requirements, I would spend some time with the Curve and the Q, expecting you to like the Curve better.
posted by Silvertree at 8:37 AM on April 6, 2008

Best answer: The Q is an absolute piece of crap. Do not buy it. The 'new' Q9 or whatever (which is probably the one you are looking at) is a *little* better, but both Qs are battery hogs (i get maybe 30-60 min talk time on a full charge) and crash machines (I don't know how many times I've had to call people back because my Q crashed either as I was trying to answer the phone or when I was trying to call them).

The Q also runs a sorta weird non-standardy Windows Mobile Smartphone OS, meaning that there are very few windows mobile apps that run on the Q correctly. You can install Opera, but it doesn't work very well (because it expects stylus input), so you're pretty much stuck with "PIE" (portable internet explorer) which provides a pretty crappy browsing experience.

The one thing the Q is good at is EXCHANGE SERVER syncing; it'll do IMAP and POP too, but not very well. The only reason you should buy a Q is if you want to use it with Exchange AND it is the only phone left in the store. Seriously, avoid. My friend hated the Q so much he actually bought a Sprint Mogul on his own dime (no contract discount), and has been relatively pleased since. Myself? I'm a martyr, so I'm just going to suffer through with the Q for another year and then see if the phone landscape has changed any (waiting for more iPhone like features to come to phones that are not iPhones).
posted by fishfucker at 11:08 AM on April 6, 2008

Seconding the Blackberry. I would marry mine if it were legal.
posted by jildelicious at 1:37 PM on April 6, 2008 [4 favorites]

I have the Blackberry 8703e and it works great. The Java GMail app is decent (could be better, cut&paste aren't integrated yet). It hooks into my company's Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) very well and my Outlook email/calendar/contact list/etc sync properly. You may or may not be using it with the BES though, and from what I remember of the pre-BES days it was annoying to have to forward emails to you@blackberry.net and reply from you@hotmail.com or whatever, but that's just because the BES integration is _so_ much better. I remember finding providers that would sell you an Outlook mailbox for your domain, so you may want to look into this.

The web browser works great and if you get stuck on something, try using Opera Mini. It works...differently than the built-in browser but should be able to do everything you need if the Blackberry browser falls down. I actually do web-banking with the bank's crazy javascript site from the Blackberry.

Personally, I don't think you can beat the Blackberry, even with the iPhone, as a wireless email device.
posted by xenyz at 5:58 PM on April 7, 2008

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