Switching from a BlackBerry Tour to an HTC Thunderbolt Android smartphone makes me more digitally connected.
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Comparing the Tour to the Thunderbolt is apples and oranges. BlackBerry is based on an older Operating System (OS) while Android is more modern. Research In Motion, makers of the BlackBerry device and OS, in a business failure that will be studied in business schools for years, astonishingly failed to upgrade its technology fast enough and has been outmaneuvered by Apple’s iPhone OS and Google’s Android OS.
While BlackBerry today unveiled two new phones
that will compete against Android and iOs, they won’t be available for several months. Blackberry is catching up, but it will still trail Android and iOS after these releases.
The Thunderbolt uses Verizon’s 4G network, while the Tour is on a 3G network. When you are in a place covered by 4G, navigating the Web is incredibly fast. You get used to it fast and it makes 3G coverage a drag. The Thunderbolt uses my home or office Wi-Fi connection, while the BlackBerry only uses my wireless carrier’s network. The Wi-Fi connection is great because I spend a lot of time in my home and office.
The two new BlackBerrys expected this summer will have T-Mobile and AT&T 4G capabilities but only 3G on Verizon’s network and don’t run on Wi-Fi.
My experience using the Thunderbolt indicates Verizon’s 4G network is a work in progress. The 4G service works great in New York City. But since I spend most of my time in a suburban area at the outer edge of the 4G coverage zone, my 4G service is spotty. If I travel just a couple of miles east to a mall, I’m in a 3G zone. Last week, I travelled to Fort Worth, Texas and had to settle for 3G service. Point is, Verizon’s 4G network is a work in progress, and your personal experience will depend largely on whether you spend your life in places with 4G service. With that caveat in mind, I can say that the Thunderbolt provides me with a huge improvement in Web access.
The BlackBerry browser took forever to access websites. The Tour’s 2.4” display is only about half the size of Thunderbolt screen. Navigating the Web was frustrating, something to be avoided. (The BlackBerry 9900 and 9930, two new phones unveiled today, have a 2.8” touchscreen.)
The 4.3” (diagonally-measured) display zooms using touch-screen pinch control. The touch-screen took some time to get used to and I’m, still not totally comfortable.
Thunderbolt’s 1 GHz Snapdragon processor
is much faster than the BlackBerry Tour 528 MHz processor. So moving from the phone to the browser to the camera is quick. (The new BlackBerrys announced today have a 1.2GHz processor.)
The combination of a faster processor, browser, and network connection makes using the Web a much better experience. When I click on a link in the Android, it loads a browser and navigate to the site much faster than the BlackBerry Tour. The new Blackberrys will be about as good for AT&T and T-Mobile customers.
The Android app store, “Market,” is packed with apps. BlackBerry App World has 26,771 apps while Android Market has 206,143. The proliferation of apps means that there are more ways to customize your smartphone to your particular needs.
Popular apps can be found for accessing Gmail, sharing documents, accessing your office PC, and posting photos. In fact, most of the widely used apps such as for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, for example, are available for the BlackBerry Operating System as well as Android. But the Android OS has a distinct advantage because it displays websites and allows you to work in many apps that do not have a dedicated mobile interface or app. This is especially useful to advisors.
The vast majority of vendors serving independent advisors are pretty small, having less than $10 million in annual revenue. Many have less than $5 million in sales. For small companies to support a BlackBerry app as well as a Android and Apple iOS app is a huge headache. While the Tour’s Web browsing makes it nearly impossible to use most advisor apps, my Thunderbolt can access different advisor apps. That’s because the faster speed of the processor, browser, and network.
The new BlackBerry phones debuting this summer will make a difference and allow advisors to access many more industry apps even if they do not have a dedicated app. That’s because the processor speed is nearly double what it was previously and it will support HTML 5 and BlackBerry is making other improvements in its browser.
BlackBerry Tour’s camera was 2.3 megapixels and new 9900 and 9930 will have a 5 megapixel camera. The HTC Thunderbolt sports an eight megapixel camera, and viewing photos and videos on its large display has been a real improvement.
For advisors who are BlackBerry fans and have not switched to an Android or Apple iPhone, the new Blackberry will be a step closer to what Android offers. But it will still lag. Screen size will not be as good, you will not get Wi-Fi service, and you will not get 4G service unless you’re a T-Mobile of AT&T customer.