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What Will a Verizon iPhone Mean to You?

Leaving Plans Networks Missing? Bottom Line Comments  48  

The final consideration is more subjective, but I'll try to explore this question without offending fans of any specific platform. Is it worth dumping your BlackBerry, or your Android phone, for an iPhone? What should you expect to lose in the process, and what will you gain? Of course this answer might be a matter of taste, especially when interface design is so integral to the user's appreciation of all of these platforms, but here are some obvious features to consider.

I'm not telling you what to like or dislike, I'm just laying out your options. Personally, I've used all of these smartphone platforms extensively, and I see benefit to each.

Android users will lose a lot of customization options. While Android offers homepage extras like active widgets, customizable folders that can populate based on set criteria, live wallpapers, and myriad types of shortcuts far beyond simple Web page bookmarks, the Apple iPhone does not. There are plenty of apps for Android that control the phone's settings, or theme apps that can skin the interface and even replace popular app icons automatically. Apple is more rigid about these options.

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Apple does not offer Flash in its Web browser, unlike the best high-end Android smartphones. Though Flash performance on Android is not perfect, at least it fills in some major gaps in the Web browsing experience, and at most it offers a great way to watch inline video content.

If you rely on Google's own services, Android tends to make these a priority. Gmail, Google Talk, Google Maps with Navigation, Google Voice and other Google features almost always work better with the first-party apps available on Android. Apple offers plenty of enhancements with its own MobileMe software, but that service comes with a yearly fee, while most Google services are free.

BlackBerry users will lose the hardware keyboard. In fact, while BlackBerry phones offer a variety of form factors to please users, from narrow to wide, sliders and clamshells, the iPhone only comes in one basic shape.

If your corporation uses BlackBerry Enterprise servers for email, you won't find a native option to work with your iPhone. Likewise, BlackBerry Messenger addicts might find a similar service, but it won't be exactly the same, and you won't be able to connect with your friends via their BBM PIN number. BlackBerry devices also offer deeper menus with tons more tweaks and settings than the Apple iPhone. Finally, my personal reviewing and testing experience has shown that BlackBerry phones live up to their reputation for excellent battery life.

On the other hand, Apple offers iTunes. iTunes offers a very simple, powerful multimedia management tool and sync option. There are similar sync options for every other platform, but none that are tied so tightly and offer so many features as iTunes does with the iPhone. You can sync music and videos; you can control your email and address book sync; you can even rearrange apps and folders on your homescreen panels. iTunes also makes a perfect backup of your phone every time you plug it in.

Apple also has the widest selection of apps available for its platform. There is some question about how much this matters. The number of apps is only impressive if these apps are worth using, and there are great apps available on every smartphone platform, from Android and BlackBerry to Windows Phone 7 and Symbian. Still, there are few apps that are available for other platforms that are not available for Apple's iOS, and numerous apps that are exclusive to Apple.


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