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Smartphone Showdown: BlackBerry Bold vs. iPhone, T-Mobile G1

Published
In the market for a new smartphone? With their laptop-like features, today's all-in-one models can keep you entertained and connected no matter where you go. From the T-Mobile G1 to the Blackberry Bold, we tested three of today's most sought after models to find out which mobile is worth your hard-earned cash.

T-Mobile G1 vs iPhone 3G vs Blackberry Bold

T-Mobile G1
Apple iPhone 3G
Blackberry Bold
Price
$179.99
$199
$149.99
(via rebate)
Weight
5.6 ounces
4.7 ounces
4.8 ounces
Data Plans
$25/mo Unlimited Web + 400 msgs;
$35/mo Unlimited Web & msgs
$30/mo unlimited data
$30/mo unlimited data
Width
(at thickest)
15.7 mm
12.3 mm
15 mm
Screen
3.17" 480x320
3.5" 480x320
2.75" 480x320
Camera
3.2MP
2MP
2MP
Audio/Video/Photo
MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV, Ogg Vorbis
AAC, Protected AAC, MP3, Apple Lossless, WAV, H.264, MP4, JPEG
AAC, MP3, WMA, DivX, H.264, WMV3, JPEG
Wireless
802.11g, 3G
802.11g, 3G
802.11g, 3G
Web Browser
Chrome Lite
Safari
BB Browser
Storage
256MB
8GB (built-in)
1GB (built-in)
Expandability
via microSD
None
via microSD
Bluetooth
Yes
Yes
Yes
QWERTY Keyboard
Slide-out Qwerty
On-screen
Qwerty layout
Headphone Jack
No
Yes
Yes
Stores Supported
Android Market,
Amazon MP3
Apple iTunes Store
N/A
Rated Battery Life
5 hours talk,
130 hours standby
5 hours talk,
300 hours standby
4.5 hours talk,
324 hours standby

Keyboard
Even if you're not a Blackberry addict, the Bold's near-perfect keyboard is sure to win you over. It's spacious and wide with large, slightly elevated keys that can accommodate both big and small hands. We also like that the keys are backlit, making it easy to fire off messages in the dark. And best of all, it's not virtual. For e-mail or text, the Bold's keyboard is unbeatable.
Winner: Blackberry Bold

Operating System
All three smartphones pack impressive software, but the iPhone's OS is slightly more polished than the G1's and the Blackberry Bold's. It's simple, yet elegant and powerful. The Bold's OS, which is the best Blackberry software to date, would still sometimes lag or freeze on us if we drilled through menus or folders too quickly. Likewise, Google's Android was smooth, but a bit choppy with certain finger swipes and gestures.
Winner: Apple iPhone 3G

Design
Apple's products are known for their industrial design and the iPhone lives up to its pedigree. It's the lightest and thinnest smartphone of the bunch, yet it feels solid in your hand. RIM's Blackberry Bold puts up a good challenge drawing most of its DNA from the Blackberry Curve with rounded edges, a white trackball, and a glossy facade, but its light weight makes it feel cheap and somewhat toy-like in your hands. HTC mangled the G1 with an oversized chin that gets in the way of the QWERTY keypad and a questionable display that creaks every time you slide it open. In the end, Apple's design team pulled another win for the folks in Cupertino.
Winner: Apple iPhone 3G

Features
From GPS to built-in cameras, all three phones pack enough features to give some cheaper notebooks a run for their money. The G1 packs the highest resolution camera, although it doesn't natively shoot video (only the Blackberry Bold can do that). For MP3 and movie purposes, the iPhone's screen and iPod DNA give it the upper hand. Connectivity-wise, all three phones give you the option of browsing the Web on 3G or via Wi-Fi. For extensive Web surfing, we recommend the iPhone's Safari browser. The G1 and Blackberry Bold deliver full HTML and make it easy to access the Internet, but the iPhone's Web experience is in a class by itself letting you pinch and squeeze your way through Web pages.

Although the iPhone has the biggest screen, all three phones pack the same 480x320 resolution. For shopping, the iPhone offers the most apps via its iTunes Store, but the G1 has more store support with a mobile version of the Amazon MP3 store and its own Android Market. (RIM's forthcoming app store wasn't available at the time of this writing.) The G1's tight integration with Google Maps, Gmail, and Google Calendar also make syncing a thing of the past since all your information is stored on Google's servers. It's software independence and DRM-free affiliations give it the edge it needs to elbow its way past the competition.
Winner: T-Mobile G1

Value
Priced at $179.99, the G1 offers the most value for your money. The 8GB Apple iPhone 3G comes in second place at $199. Meanwhile, Amazon.com has the best offer on the Blackberry Bold at $199.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate (and with a $39.99 or more voice plan for new AT&T customers). Alternatively, LetsTalk.com offers the Blackberry Bold for free after a $199.99 mail in rebate, although this deal requires a $79.99/month plan, unlimited text, and a separate data plan.
Winner: T-Mobile G1

Verdict
Although we liked all three phones, ultimately the battle came down to Google vs Apple, and despite its hardware flaws, the G1 just managed to edge out the iPhone for top spot. It's not tied down by software, it lets you buy DRM-free songs direct from Amazon, and it has a real QWERTY keyboard. The OS has some minor first-gen issues to be resolved, but for the price, it can't be beat.

Louis Ramirez is dealnews' Features Editor.

Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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