By accident rather than through any grand plan, I have recently acquired a Blackberry Curve 8310, and Dennis has almost simultaneously acquired an Apple iPhone 2.

I had persuaded work that I'd be able to do my job better if I had access to email and Sametime via a Blackberry, and that it would be very good if I was using (and therefore familiar with) the mobile solution that my customers are all adopting at a great rate of knots.

Dennis was simply having a birthday, and he wanted a new phone/music player/electronic dictionary/solitaire game.

No doubt there are a quintillion comparisons on the web, so I won't make a detailed comparison between the two phones, except to say: the Blackberry is straightforward and utilitarian. It does email and applications nicely, and the only thing I would wish for is a larger screen. The email synching works like a charm. Calendar entries and my contacts interface with Notes nicely and I can even read encrypted emails. When work upgrades to the next version of the Blackberry Enterprise Server (4.1 SP6) I'll get full rich text rendering of my emails, and at that point there is very little more that I'd want.

The iPhone certainly has the larger screen that I feel I'd like: but, clever though it is, I'm not sure that I'd ever prefer the iPhone's on screen keyboard over the Curve's physical keyboard. But the iPhone is seriously sexy. Everything 'gloops'. Turn it sideways, and the screen 'gloops' from portrait to landscape. Flick to the next page, and the screen 'gloops' from right to left to draw the new screen. Open a new application, and it arrives with a 'gloop'.

Instead of the detailed comparison, I will compare them in one area where they are doing something almost identical: they each come with a 2 megapixel (1600 x 1200 pixel) camera. As the owner of a Digital SLR, I've always tended to turn my nose up at phone cameras. The questions are: does either phone produce a better photo than the other, and is either phone's camera 'good enough' to use?

It would be interesting to know what CCD chip the two cameras are based on. They might even both use the same chip, so any differences between photos would be due to the lenses and the software.

We took two photos at sunset. This is a difficult situation for a phone camera because:

  • It's getting dark, and darkness always means that the tiny camera chips start to display noise
  • Exposure is difficult: does the camera expose for the sun, or the sky?

Here are the photos.

Image:Cameras: Blackberry Curve vs iPhone, a very informal test
A thumbnail of the photo taken with the camera built into my Blackberry Curve 8310. For full size image, click here.

Image:Cameras: Blackberry Curve vs iPhone, a very informal test

A thumbnail of the photo taken with the camera built into an iPhone 2. For full size image, click here.

Preliminary Conclusions

In my opinion, the Blackberry exposed better: the sun/sunlit clouds aren't washed out: on the iPhone the sun is washed out.

If you look at the blue sky on the full sized images, there is noise or possibly jpg artifacts on the Blackberry that don't appear on the iPhone picture.

I also think the iPhone photo is a little more vibrant, and the bluer colour is a little more pleasing than the Blackberry picture which (to my male eyes) appears a little green.

The iPhone picture isn't quite as sharp: that's probably not the fault of the iPhone. I think we'll need to make sure the phone is steadied better for any future comparisons.

So: a provisional win for the iPhone camera, but we'll need to do some tests in good lighting conditions, and with the phones being held rock steady when the pictures are taken.

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Anthony Holmes July 24th, 2008 10:05:58 PM

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