Frugal Gadgets – the iPhone or the Blackberry Pearl?

About 6 weeks ago Walmart gave me the opportunity to buy and review a smart phone. I was to consider the buying experience through Walmart as well as the phone itself. I will admit, I tend to be a bit anti-Apple and I wasn’t exactly keen to get an iPhone but through my local Walmart Canada stores my smart phone options were limited to the Apple iPhone, the Nokia N95 or the Blackberry Pearl 8120. I was under contract with Rogers (with over a year left) so I knew going in that my phone upgrade would require me to sign on for another 2 or 3 years.

After looking over the features of each phone online I went to the Walmart Canada store located in Ancaster, Ontario. I had my 19 year old daughter along with me as we looked at the phones on display. This store didn’t have a Nokia N95 in stock so now my choice was between the Blackberry Pearl 8120 and the iPhone 3G. The sales rep in the electronics area was friendly and seemed knowledgeable – explaining a bit about each phone’s features as well as what sort of fees I would incur with each. Canada is notorious for pricey data rates.

While I was learning more and more toward the iPhone (after all… it has so many apps!), my daughter was getting quite excited about the Blackberry Pearl. I loved the slim, sleek lines of the iPhone and she loved the qwerty keyboard on the Blackberry. And somehow… she managed to talk me into buy both. iPhone for myself and Blackberry for her.

Not exactly the frugal choice. In addition to the cost of each phone we had to buy data plans to add to our regular cellphone plans which worked out to an extra $25 for the iPhone and an extra $35 for the Blackberry. Ugh.

We’ve had our phones for 6 weeks now and we both are happy with our choices. My daughter does a lot of text messaging so the qwerty keypad is ideal for her. I’ve found the iPhone’s built in camera to be easy to use and I find I’m taking more photos with it than my digital camera these days. More and more I don’t even bother to bring a camera but rely on the iPhone. It’s simple, no zoom or options, but it works well and it’s easy to send photos in an email, text message, or to create photo stories using apps like Whrrl.

In fact it’s not just my camera that it’s replaced.

  • It’s replaced my alarm clock and watch. It has a great built in alarm clock and you can set multiple alarms.
  • It’s replaced my daytimer. It’s calendar feature syncs easily with Google Calendar so my calendar is always with me.
  • It’s replaced my mp3 player. I have the 8gb iPhone but it has lots of room for mp3s and it has iTunes built in making it easy to sync podcasts, audio books and mp3 music.
  • It’s replaced my pocket address book. It syncs with my Gmail contact list and is easy to search with.

I’ve only started to look beyond the apps it comes with but I think I’ll be finding that the iPhone will replace more and more tools and gadgets for me. So while it’s a bit pricier than other options (especially with the Canadian data rates), it’s already saved me time and hassle – and cleared a bunch of things out of my purse and off my desk.

The verdict? Love it!

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