Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome once again to the dark, dank depths of the -32nd floor of Shiny Towers as we come to you live from the Technology Deathmatch Arena. Today’s edition of the specced up smack down is a real clash of the modern day mobile darlings.
Tickets were sold out for this one long ago and the touts have been doing a fine trade standing shifty in their sheepskins as member s of the technological gentry have brushed by, heads high in LED top hats and electroluminescent tails, eyes low buried deep in devices Tweeting this carnival atmosphere for the world to read.
The middle class punters rustle in their seats, uncomfortable in their too tight too new glad rags as flustered wives quibble with irate husbands. The rest scrabble for scraps from the touts, mug the lost and unfortunate on their ways to gates and scuttle on drainpipes and scurry along ledges to secure their one-eye view of the feast to come, because tonight, tonight is the first time the undisputed heavyweight champion of the mobile world might just lose his crown.
After months of throwing challengers from the ring, – some merely bloodied but most wishing they had only been so – at last comes a real challenger to outsmart the smartest phone. Tonight it’s the new kid’s turn. Tonight the latest prize prospect from the RIM stables steps up to the challenge. Tonight Apple might just have met its match.
Yes, ladies and gentleman, tonight, in the pure black, and now white, corner standing at 11.6cm x 6.2cm x 1.2cm and weighing in at 133g is the handset that no-one likes being matched up with, the Crusher from Cupertino, California, the Apple iPhone 3G!
And the challenger, at a smaller but stockier 11.3cm x 6.2cm x 1.4cm and weighing in carrying 155g is the handset who’s set to tear it up over land and sea, the RIM daddy, the BlackBerry Storm!
The iPhone 3G turns on the canvass, its 3.5″ multi-touch screen glaring out at the crowd with its arms held high in the air, daring the next challenge while its trainer runs light and frantic in trainers and a black polo-neck oiling up the champ.
Half the crowd boos throwing missiles at the iPhone, the others rise in their hordes forming a human shield to protect their hero. The trainer smiles.
On the other side of the squared circle, the challenger stands stock still, head bowed, silk hood of its gown obscuring the 3.25″ pressable screen. The referee checks their boots.
Round One – Style
Usually the first area where the champ simply picks up his opponent by the ankle and slings him into the crowd but as the sleek, one-button, brushed metal body of the iPhone 3G reaches for the Storm’s frame, the challenging handset firmly stamps its heavier body onto the Apple mobile’s fingers and for the first time in its fighting career, there’s a look of genuine panic in the eyes of the Jesus phone.
The Storm looks good. It may not be an iconic piece of Jonathon Ive magic but then the iPhone is starting to look a bit old and more importantly, just a little bit commonplace.
The Storm is a sleek piece of kit. This is the first BlackBerry with no hardware QWERTY and instead reduced to a lush, dark, glowing ode to ergonomic modern design. It is a touch chunkier than the slimline iPhone but then the Apple darling is no mini itself. It fits nicely into the inside of a jacket pocket but it’s just as much of a squeeze in the jeans as any smartphone.
Despite its added weight, the Storm holds its ground, fixed on the iPhone, staring it down as the crowd roars in anticipation of the first blow of the fight. The champion shrinks, frozen in horror before it finally unfurls itself circling its opponent looking for a new weakness, having to think for the first time in its life.
Every time the Storm makes for a hold, the Apple backs away from the challenge, still circling, still plotting, spitting like cat. The bell rings for the end of the round and the crowd rise in outrage throwing their programs into the ring, the fighters oblivious to their calls and the paper raining down upon them from all sides until their trainers lead them to their corners.
Round Two – the Screen
With words of comfort poured into his ear from his mysterious trainer in black , the iPhone is raging again when the bell goes for the start of the second. A few nods of the head, he stuffs his gumshield into his mouth and bangs his fists together taking the canvass, ready for his man.
The Storm girds his loins to bring the fight but only makes it two steps before the iPhone flies in with a double blow straight to both sides of the challenger’s body with enough strength smash any lesser phone to dust. The Storm’s casing buckles and bends as the Apple tries to target the display, both 0.25-inches smaller and not multitouch either. Winded, the Storm drops down to one knee, its hands on the coarse, sprung decking still damp from the sweat of bouts gone by.
Without hesitation, the iPhone 3G picks its weakened opponent up and off its feet and into a bear hug looking to squeeze the life out of it before it can even begin. It whispers insults into the Storm’s ears as the BlackBerry fights to free itself.
The accelerometer is seamless on the iPhone and the multitouch function is frankly legendary. Touchscreen gadgets were useless until the iPhone arrived and the finger and thumb navigation and zooming action is the stuff dreams are made on.
The iPhone crushes down on the Storm’s already broken sides and the challenger’s head begins to fall as the roar of the crowd and the words of his adversary start to swim into echoes but the harder the Apple handset squeezes, the more the Storm smiles back, its head swaying, its eyes punch drunk but defiant. Try as it might, the iPhone cannot break the screen because, although it may not be multitouch, it is an innovation of its own with the new BlackBerry SurePress technology.
Instead of selecting by touch, you highlight with your finger but only actually pick out what you mean to activate by pressing in on the display. That means you don’t type anything you don’t mean to and you don’t start that pornographic YouTube clip in front of your nan by accident.
On first look it may not be quite as responsive as far as the accelerometer goes but the touchscreen itself looks everything it should be and more. It’s half VGA , the same as the iPhone.
Almost exhausted itself, the iPhone 3G drops the Storm to the mat and the bell goes with to his secret relief as much as the dazzled Storm’s. Both fighters catch their breath in their corners more tired than beaten. All too soon the 30 seconds has gone and they drag their aching frames up once more.
Round Three – Imaging
Straight from the bell, the Storm is into its stride, this is the moment it’s been waiting for. It jams its shoulder from across the ring into the screen of the iPhone 3G. The crack spills black LCD fluid onto the floor as the iPhone staggers back onto the ropes. The Storm grabs the lines both sides of its opponent trapping the Apple phone in and bringing it to crashing to his shoulder again and again, locked in deadly action:
Once for the camera – a pathetic 2.0-megapixels, that may look good on the iPhone screen but certainly nowhere else, versus a 3.2-megapixel sensor with a flash to back it up. Another blow for the video capture that the Storm can use so painfully absent on its opponent. The third and final clatter is for the MMS support still ignored by Apple but there, as expected, with RIM’s Storm.
Apple and its supporters may talk about how MMS isn’t necessary, that you can e-mail photos or use other ways to send them to your friends but there are many ways to solve all sorts of problems in computing and technology and there’s no excuse to start shutting them down. The fact is that people want MMS. They use it, and while it exists, as the number one phone to phone image sending method, it should be supported.
The iPhone 3G lies slumped on the floor dragging its winded carcass over to the livid trainer. The Storm returns to its corner and wipes the mess off its shoulder with a towel. End of round three.
Round Four – Applications
The handsets themselves are one thing but the hardware is pointless if there are no good apps to make use of it and both phones know it as, broken and haemorrhaging parts, they take to the ring once more.
The first move is from the Storm who charges in safe with the knowledge of its pedigree as an e-mail device with clients for all the major mail services straight out of the box, as well as some of the major IM programs with the usual annoying absence of Skype.
But even though the Storm lands blows on the body of the iPhone 3G, it’s Apple’s handset that has the longer reach with the support and strength of the monumental App Store. By the bell, the Storm can hardly stand; screen bent, casing shattered and camera lens well and truly cracked. The stocky challenger slips on the sea of black plastic fragments that litter the ring as it drifts on blessed autopilot back to its stool.
Tina parades across in front the Storm’s lolling eyes in her Deathmatch bikini and the sign for the final round held high. The man in the polo neck massages his fighter’s frame, the bleeding largely stopped, their corner a picture of calm compared to the team of medics with Vaseline, cotton buds and a bloody pile of sponges tending their opponent.
The tightly packed audience barely breathes a word; the only sounds the shuffling of scorecards, the whispers of bets and the loosening of starched collars at the absolute humidity of the arena air. Sweat drips down everyone, everything from women stuffed into their frocks to the green damp on the walls of the -32nd floor itself.
The bell tolls and the fighters rise; the iPhone 3G slow and steady impressed by this most worthy of adversaries; the Storm, crippled but functioning and ready to lose it all for death or for glory. For the first time in the whole contest, the two handsets catch eyes and as their brows drip and the crowd bays, a moment of respect passes between the two; a moment unseen to the bloodthirsty and the bet-crazed, a moment unseen to their trainers – perhaps even a moment missed by the consumers too. After all, both are excellent pieces of innovation, but too soon the moment is gone.
They crash together with a sickening thump, chunks of circuit boards and solder hitting the floor. They trade blows one after the other, the iPhone missing Bluetooth, the Storm Wi-Fi; the BlackBerry with GPS, the Apple’s assisted but mercifully both carrying 3.5mm audio jacks. Both handsets’ insides spill into each other’s. The iPhone has its 30-pin dock connector and all the non-Apple hardware clamoring to support it, while the Storm has microUSB, microSD to expand the memory up to 17GB, one more than the iPhone, and, of course, all the security features that have always leant it to business use.
The bell rings and rings for the end of the bout but the screams of the crowd and shattering of the hardware are too loud for any to hear. It takes four men to separate the fighters collapsing into heaps on top of the officials. The iPhone is battered, ruined but will live to fight again; the Storm broken, torn, pulled chip from chip with just skeletal boards and the odd plastic bridge keeping it together. They rush it off to hospital to the guilt of the silent crowd but the points decision goes ahead.
“By a decision of 57 points to 59, the prize of the battle of the smartphones goes to the defending champion, the iPhone 3G!”
The crowd comes alive again, booing and cheering in equal measure and the trainer in the black top dances around in glee barely looking at his fighter still struggling for breath on the canvass.
The Blackberry Storm put up an excellent fight. It fills in so many of the gaps left by the iPhone and adds an angle all of its own. If you were a business customer or a even “prosumer” as they like to call the halfway house, then doubtless you’d go for the BlackBerry, but, as far as the regular Joe is concerned, it’s just impossible to ignore all the amazing apps, the extra-handset support and probably the added status that many seem to enjoy.
For me, I’d rather have a phone a little different to everyone else and for that reason I’d rather take the Storm, but ask me who has more fun and I’ll probably tell you an iPhone user. Watch out for the video review later this week and we’ll tell you some more.
For now, it’s time for the crowds to leave the Deathmatch Arena hot, tired, spent but satisfied. It’s going to take a while to clear this one up.