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.

Slate columnist Farhad Manjoo and The Big Money blogger Chris Thompsonwere online at Washingtonpost.com to chat with readers about the iPhone features borrowed by Google's Android, and BlackBerry's Storm. An unedited transcript of the chat follows.

Farhad Manjoo: Hi everyone. Chris Thompson and I are ready to answer your questions about Google, Apple and BlackBerry and their smartphones. Let's begin!

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New York, N.Y.: Not a question about the Google phone, but the new Blackberry Storm. It seems to be relatively close to the iPhone and as someone who needs a new phone and wants an iPhone but doesn't want to leave Verizon, would you recommend this as an alternative?

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Farhad Manjoo: That's the big question. It does look pretty good, and paired with Verizon's excellent network, it may indeed be a viable alternative. I haven't had a chance to review it yet, though, and I haven't seen many reviews. I'd suggest waiting a few weeks or even a couple months for the verdict to come in. Also, for prices to drop over the holidays!

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Arlington, Va.: What are you hearing about the G2? Is it worth it to wait until next summer to buy the updated model? Are any other cell providers coming out with their version of the Google phone soon? I really want one but I don't want a superior product to come out two months later.

Chris Thompson: Motorola is scheduled to have an Android phone on the market sometime next year, built around social networking sites. No one yet knows how it will do with users.

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Idaho Falls, Idaho: Will these new phones have the ability to copy and paste, so one could forward a text message, edit a Word Document, modify an Excel spreadsheet, etc.?

Farhad Manjoo: Both the G1 and the BlackBerry Storm have copy and paste functions. The iPhone, notoriously and annoyingly, does not—though everyone suspects that at some point, Apple will add that (and when it does, the update will be through software, meaning that older current phones will also get those capabilities).

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New York, N.Y.: How many municipalities does the Google phone have in comparison to the iPhone? How is T-Mobile's service rating these days against AT&T's? (Personally, I'm quite unhappy with AT&T but I've never used T-Mobile.) Thanks.

Chris Thompson: As I understand it, T-Mobile's 3G service is fairly limited and very much a work in progress; the company just got 3G coverage for the Washington D.C. area a little over a week ago.

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Adamstown, Md.: Let's start with the best feature the Google Phone has that the iPhone does not. (along with what they "borrowed")

Farhad Manjoo: There's one main feature: A physical keyboard. There are some people—or perhaps many people—who can't stand Apple's on-screen keyboard; for these folks, the G1 will always be superior.

Other smaller features that the G1 has but the iPhone lacks include copy and paste and MMS (short messages that can include multimedia, like pictures).

But there are also features that the iPhone has that the G1 lacks. The most annoying, for me: The G1 does not have a headphone jack—it comes with a special earbud set that plugs into its USB port.

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N.Y.: So, what's going to win out? How viable is Android?

Chris Thompson: In theory, Android is as viable as the developers make it, although Farhad's pointed out plenty of advantages to the iPhone's closed app model. Maybe in the end, China Mobile will win out; it's the largest cell phone service provider in the world with 436 million subscribers, it's planning to roll out its own version of the Android phone, and it just announced plans to open its own mobile applications store. With hundreds of millions of potential Android users, that kind of market power could set the tone for future mobile applications.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hello, I am a Verizon customer and I like the idea of the BBstorm but I'm wondering why Verizon chose not to include a WI-FI service on the phone? Do you think future generations of the BB will have WI-FI, or any Verizon phone for that matter? Also, I heard about the new applications that they BB would be able to download, would that be for free or at additional cost? Thanks a bunch!

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