Techaccino Tuesdays: The smartphone wars

Yes, dear reader: this new column is for you. Whether you are iPhone-slinging, MacBook-toting, Android-rocking, or BBM-rolling, Techaccino is your weekly morning dose of new and upcoming gadgets, apps and websites to turn your fingers into multimedia WMDs. Follow @techaccinoblog on Twitter for instant updates!

When last semester’s Herald poll came out, it came as no surprise that nearly two thirds of Brown students own either an iPhone, Android or Blackberry device. Touchscreen phones nowadays are as ubiquitous as boomboxes in the ’80s, CD Walkmans in the ’90s, or iPods in the ’00s: everyone either already has one or wants one.

What’s slightly more surprising, though, is the proportion of each of these brands on campus — out of those two thirds with smartphones, over half have iPhones, while Android and Blackberry users are split even. In the US, according to data from comScore, almost half of smartphone users have Android devices, while iPhone users have about 30 percent of the market, and Blackberry 16 percent.

So, what’s the deal here? Are iPhones simply better for life on campus? Are Android users ahead of the curve? Are Blackberrys on their way out? In honor of awards season, let’s meet the nominees in the our first ever BEST PHONE FOR COLLEGE HILL competition.

iPhones: They’re sleek, they’re everywhere, and you’re bound to know someone who can fix them with their eyes closed. Since their advent on Verizon, they’ve conquered most of JWW’s no-service zones, developed fancy exoskeletons, and helped students fulfill all possible desires. And since 99 percent of us also own laptops, we can sync emails, calendars, tasks, class notes, tweets and pokes all on the go. The main drawback: $$$ — you’ll need at least $90/month to survive, even with all the WiFi around.

Android: They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, managing all things Google (Gmail, Google Docs, Gchat, YouTube) seamlessly. They won’t break your bank (on Sprint or Virgin Mobile), you can hack them to do pretty much anything, and you can surf any website without fear of that blue brick. With these phones, though, you’ll have to deal with little nagging details (slow game performance, apps closing on their own) and iPhone-fanboys/girls making fun of you (to which you can respond that at least you’re having more sex than they are).

Blackberry: They have the best keyboards, texting and email capabilities, and you’ll look like a pro walking around on one. Unfortunately, that’s about it. Unless they get a much-needed update over the next few months, users will likely be losing the few BBM friends they have left to iMessage and kik, and then, what’s really left?

The verdict: Overall, Apple and Google have come a long way, and both iPhones and Android phones offer virtually the same apps and services. We hate to leave you looking for a decisive answer, but it all comes down to personal preference on this one. If you care more about price or personalizing your phone at the risk of having to regularly tweak your settings menu, you’ll likely prefer an Android device. If you’re all about ease of use and full support rather than ultimate customization, go for an iPhone. In any case, stray away from already-outdated Blackberrys! And if you think you don’t actually need a smartphone on campus, let’s be real: you know you want to post those embarrassing Hot Club pictures on Facebook ASAP, and you can’t play Angry Birds with a keyboard.

Next week, we’ll talk about note-taking, aka what-we-should-be-doing-in-class-instead-of-playing-word-search.

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