Farhad Manjoo and Chris Thompson talk iPhones, Androids, and BlackBerry Storms.

Real-time discussions with Slate writers.
Nov. 20 2008 5:24 PM

iPhoning It In

Farhad Manjoo and Chris Thompson take your questions about the mobile devices of Apple, Google, and BlackBerry.

(Continued from Page 1)

Farhad Manjoo: Nobody quite knows why the Storm doesn't include Wi-Fi (both the iPhone and the G1 do), but according to at least one report, it's Verizon's doing: That is, the phone is technically capable of handling Wi-Fi, but Verizon crippled it for business reasons (presumably because when you're using Wi-Fi, you're not using Verizon's network).

Research in Motion, BlackBerry's manufacturer, plans to launch an app store for the phone next year. Like on the iPhone's App Store, third-party developers will be able to set their own prices for their apps.

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Falls Church, Va.: Please help me avoid hours of internet research! My phone contract is up and I want to upgrade from my current phone to either a Blackberry Pearl (for the small size) or an iPhone. My main goals are to be able to check email, get directions, look up movie times ... and of course make calls and text message. Which one would you recommend? I think the monthly plan costs are similar, but which one is more user friendly and reliable? Thanks!

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Farhad Manjoo: Alas, you really should do your own Web search! Both phones have received high marks and can handle what you're looking to do, but your choice will likely depend on a number of personal factors—how much you use your phone (and thus which service plans are better), which networks are strongest in your area, and whether you're switching over to a new plan or staying with your current provider.

Here's one thing I will say: If you plan to use the Web a lot, go with the iPhone.

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Baltimore, Md.: Does the Storm have auto-text correction that is anything like the iPhone? If so, does it work as well, and as unobtrusively, as the iPhone? BTW, iPhone's come with key-clicks, as in the Storm's TV ad. It was one of the first things I turned off on mine. Annoying! I'd much rather have the visual feedback of the key getting bigger.

Farhad Manjoo: The Storm does include a predictive text-entry system, and early reviews have called it pretty good.

The Storm also features an innovative "tactile feedback" mechanism that's meant to make typing on its screen something like typing on a physical keyboard. When you press down on the glass, its surface depresses a bit, as if you're pressing a real button. But reviews of this feature have been mixed. PC Mag says the system "ends up feeling like a lot of work in a way that typing on a hardware keyboard (or on the iPhone's software keyboard, for that matter) never did."

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Washington, D.C.: Chris, this question is for you. In your blog you talk about Yahoo's 20 percent loss. What do you think their next move will be? Can we expect other corporations to fall during these depressing times?

Chris Thompson: Once they find themselves a new CEO, Yahoo will get down to the pleasant task of wondering just what they'll do next. There's been some talk that Yahoo will rebrand itself as a email and news platform, the default starting point for users logging in to check their mail and scan the news each morning. Yahoo is also thinking about setting up an open-source network, allowing developers to write apps to customize the site and make it more interesting. But the company's got a long way to go before it figures out its next move; outgoing CEO Jerry Yang put the company through a lot of turmoil by playing hard to get with Microsoft and then rolling the dice with the Google-Yahoo search deal that Justice just killed.

Whether Yahoo is a harbinger for the rest of the tech sector is an interesting question. In a way, the real question is: just how badly will Google do in the downturn? For years, Google has suggested that it's impervious to recessions, precisely because its text search ads are cheaper than display ads. During a downturn, as companies scale back their advertising budgets, we can expect Yahoo's display ads to take a hit. But in theory, Google will clean up, because everyone will flock to its relatively cheaper ads. On the other hand, Google's stock is less than half what it was a year ago, so investors are clearly feeling a little jumpy.

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Norfolk, Va.: It may not have phone capabilities but the Kindle does have some music and Internet capabilities. Have you heard anything about a 2.0 of the Kindle? New features? Release date?

Farhad Manjoo: There have been many rumors about this, but the only news that Amazon has confirmed is that it's working on new versions, one of which will be targeted to the student textbook market (which would presumably have a bigger screen than the current version).

I'd say it's a stretch to expect a Kindle cell phone.

_______________________

Nashville, Tenn.: I realize this is a little outside the topic, but how does the LG Dare stack up to the other phones?

Farhad Manjoo: I haven't used the Dare, but here's CNET's review. They liked that it was packed with features, but thought it wasn't great for browsing the Web.

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Farhad Manjoo: Well, thanks everyone! Chris and I are hanging up. Happy phone calls with whatever devices you choose.

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