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  • Ready to Jump from AT&T for Verizon iPhone. Not So Fast

    Posted on January 22nd, 2011 Shawn 1 comment

    Unless you have been under a rock this month, you know the illustrious iPhone 4 will be heading to Verizon on February 10. This will be the first time, since the original release of the iPhone in 2007, that the phone has been made available on a CDMA carrier (Verizon and Sprint are both CDMA carriers in the U.S.) This will also be the first time that an iPhone will get 3G data speeds outside of AT&T, in the U.S. (T-Mobile users have been able to use unlocked iPhones, but unable to get 3G speeds).

    There is a lot of rumbling that many people unhappy with AT&T’s service issues (that’s phone/data service, not customer service), will likely jump ship from AT&T for the greener grass of Verizon. If you are one of those people, there are a few major considerations you should be aware of before you make the big move.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • BlackBerry Bold 9000 versus Storm 9530

    Posted on July 28th, 2009 Shawn 2 comments

    I haven’t given enough love lately to My Gadget Obsession, most of my time has been spent on My Game Obsession.  Let’s talk BlackBerry.

    We last left off on the continuing series where I had jumped ship from Verizon Wireless after many years and headed to AT&T.

    Part 1 – Last Days on Verizon Wireless
    Part 2 – First Days on AT&T
    Part 3 – BlackBerry Bold 9000 versus Storm 9530

    Now, let’s talk about My new Gadget Obsession, the BlackBerry Bold 9000. This has been my primary device since February 2009.  As far as smartphones go, this one wins over the three I previously owned (BlackBerry Storm 9530, Palm Treo 650, Palm Treo 700p).  It’s not perfect, but hits enough pluses to be a huge success for me.

    Since I am both a Bold and Storm owner, I feel I can give a fair comparison of the two.  I’ll put features in categories to make it a quick read.

    Screen – The Storm has a much larger screen (3.25 inches versus ~2.3 inches), yet only a slightly higher resolution (480 x 360 pixels versus 480 x 320 pixels).  What this translates into is the Bold has a brighter, crisper display. Side-by-side, there’s no comparison, the Bold looks nicer.  Though, the sheer size of the Storm display, at 480 x 360 is higher than the iPhone, is extremely good.  Both the Bold and Storm excel in the display department.  In my opinion, there are very few smartphones on the market that look as good and sharp as the Bold and Storm.
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    Keyboard – The age old story, of preference should come into play here (but it does not).  Do you like a physical QWERTY keyboard on the candy-bar layout (that would be the Bold), or do you like all touchscreen with an on-screen soft keyboard (that would be the Storm).  Personally, I want both!  I had both on the Palm Treo, and I want it on my newer phones. Rant aside, preference really doesn’t apply much here…well, not in the standard sense.  The Storm keyboard just plain falls down with the patented “SurePress” technology of the screen clicking for every typed character.  No matter how good a smartphone typist you are, you just cannot get much speed out of typing on the Storm, plus my fingers quickly get sore typing on it.

    The Bold keyboard has been called “the Cadillac of smartphone keyboards”. It’s big, the buttons are wide and the have a very solid click feel to them.  I believe it is a very impressive and solidly built keyboard, though it’s actually a little too wide for me, but only a little.  I’m being very picky here.  If the keys were just a tad shorter and thinner, I’d be able to type lightening fast.  Plus the form factor of the phone could be a little smaller. (I think the recently released BlackBerry Tour 9630 on Verizon has slightly smaller keys).

    The one major complaint to the Bold keyboard is I have not figured a way to press the ‘alt’ key and have it lock to type several numbers.  Same thing goes for the ‘sym’ key to type several symbols.  This makes typing anything other than letters slow and challenging.  On the Storm touchscreen keyboard, there is the ability to lock the ‘alt’ key.

    Now, if email and text isn’t your main use for a smartphone, then the Storm might just be right for you. We’ll get into that on Navigation.  Overall the Bold wins and stomps on the Storm in the keyboard category.

    Camera – The Storm camera is an impressive 3.2 MP with flash, auto focus, 2x digital zoom.  Whereas, the Bold is a 2.0 MP with flash, 3x digital zoom.  The Storm takes better quality pictures, that’s for sure…but there’s a cost.  The software (and/or hardware) running the Storm camera is very slow and can take about 3 seconds for a photo to snap.  So those posed pictures commonly have closed eyes, or those candids have a a blur since the photo opportunity passed by the time the shutter captures the image.  Though, if the picture is captured as expected, the Storm photos are very impressive.  The Bold is decent and easy to use.  Though at only 2.0 MP, do not expect semi-professional quality photos to come out of it.

    Audio – The Storm has a single speaker in the back-bottom-center of the battery case. The Bold has two-speakers hidden under the top of the battery case emanating sound out of the left and right side.  You’d expect the Storm being the media device to have better speaker sound, but the bold takes the win here.  As far as using headsets or bluetooth Headsets, both sound excellent.

    Media – As for the media players, the Storm (with it’s larger display) can display album art more than twice the size of the Bold.  I love displaying album art, and wish there was a full-screen option to the Bold.  The Storm was designed for media and videos, although crisper on the Bold, are best played on the larger screen.  I don’t use my smartphone for much video though, but I do use it for my regular MP3 player.  The BlackBerry Media Player (on both the Bold and Storm) does not stand up to the old PocketTunes player on Palm OS or iPhone/iPod.  There’s no bookmarking feature, no cross-fade feature, no custom skin feature, and limited EQ options.  The BB Media Player is just so-so.  I’m looking at 3rd party players, but have yet to find a perfect replacement.  For podcasts, I use PodTrapper and highly recommend it for any BlackBerry user that listens to podcasts.

    Service – “Your mileage may vary”.  I get good AT&T signal at home and inside some buildings.  I get poor Verizon signal at home and inside some buildings.  As for data service, the Bold has WiFi and the Storm does not.  That’s a huge negative on the Storm for me.  I have my home wireless network setup on the Bold. As soon as I walk in my front door, the Bold detects my home network and connects.  That way I get broadband speed for downloads, email, and web browsing at home.  Makes audio streaming work near perfect.  The Bold is my first smartphone with WiFi, and I will never go back to one without it.  The battery life is not that bad when leaving WiFi on all day.  For me, the Bold wins on the AT&T signal and the WiFi capabilities.

    Navigation – Not GPS navigation, but navigating on the device.  This is really a preference.  The Bold has the standard BlackBerry trackball, where the Storm is all based on touchscreen.  I think the trackball is ok, at best.  I commonly navigate to something and click with the trackball, only to have the item above/below selected.  It’s frustrating.  The trackball is also likely to build up “gunk” over the months/years of use and will reduce its performance.  I do not favor the trackball very much.  Though, when it works, I can fly around for navigation.

    The touchscreen navigation on the Storm is nice.  Finger flips on the screen scroll it any direction you need. Pressing on the SurePress screen selects your item, and I rarely ever click the wrong item.  For me, the Storm wins in the navigation department.

    Size – Both are big and clunky (see pictures).  If you are looking for something small to hide in your bag or pocket, don’t go for either of these.  I’m not so worried about size :-) so I’m OK on both.

    Speed – Both the Bold and Storm are fairly snappy.  The time they slow down is when you are running low on flash memory (see Storage).  Otherwise, both perform quite well.  No complaints.

    Storage – The Bold comes with 32MB flash memory for storing and running applications, plus 1GB of memory for storage (files, photos, music, etc.).  There’s also a microSD slot for adding up to 16GB of additional storage. Once you start playing with downloading/installing/running applications, you’ll quickly learn that 32MB is just not enough.  The Bold cannot run like an iPhone loading up hundreds (or even dozens) of apps that you may (or more likely may not) use.  32MB quickly gets taken with only a handful of installed apps.  Keep in mind that the 32MB is needed not only to store the apps, but to run them too.  Just not enough.  1GB of on-board storage is nice, and the microSD slot is great.  I have an 8GB microSD card, and considering upgrading to a fast 16GB card in the future.

    The Storm comes with 128MB flash memory for storing and running applications, plus 1GB of memory for storage (files, photos, music, etc.).  There’s also a microSD slot for adding up to 16GB of additional storage. The 128MB is respectable, and will go a lot further than the Bold.  It’s still not up to iPhone snuff, but easily trashes the Bold.

    Let’s wrap this up.  Both are great devices.  The Bold keyboard wins.  The Bold WiFi wins. The Storm screen size and media capabilities win. The Storm flash memory wins.  The Storm navigation wins.  Now that I have owned two very different BlackBerry devices, I realize that I cannot wait for the rumored next generation that will combine the best of the Bold and Storm, a BlackBerry with both physical keyboard and touchscreen.  It’s not very groundbreaking since Palm has been doing that format for more than 7 years.  It will be nice to have the best of both worlds.  For now, I’m content with the Bold and my wife is content with the Storm.
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  • Initial Thoughts of AT&T versus Verizon Wireless

    Posted on April 23rd, 2009 Shawn 3 comments

    Welcome to part two of a multi-part romance novel (not exactly) of a man, and quest for the ultimate device and network.

    Part 1 – Last Days on Verizon Wireless
    Part 2 – First Days on AT&T
    Part 3 – BlackBerry Bold 9000 versus Storm 9530

    I’ve been rockin’ the BlackBerry Bold 9000 on AT&T for a few weeks, so it’s time to publish part two of this series. If you need to catch up, read part one.

    I’m going to focus solely on the network here.  I won’t be comparing Bold versus Storm (that will be in an upcoming post). I will not be talking BlackBerry versus Treo (that will also be in an upcoming post).  For this, we talk Verizon Wireless versus AT&T.

    This is not my first dance with AT&T, but it has been about 6 years since I was on their network.  Plus back then, they were called Cingular and Cellular One before that. 3G didn’t exist back then. Hell, 2G didn’t exist (as far as I know). Smartphones were only for mobile technology uber-geeks, which I wasn’t one at the time. I had the most plain Jane Nokia phone. Monochrome screen, no texting, analog and digital capabilities, no vibrate mode (but I did buy a 3rd party battery that had a vibrate feature, and it made the phone sound like a quacking duck when it rang).

    I left Cingular because they screwed me on a billing issue, which went to a collection agency.  At the time, I was in the process of getting qualified for a home mortgage and Cingular’s collection agency (a 3rd party company) threatened if I did not pay a late fee that it would effect my credit rating. So, I negotiated a payment and promptly cut all ties with Cingular.

    Still in 2003, after researching the other available networks in my area, Sprint didn’t make the cut, and Verizon Wireless won my business. Up until May 2009, Verizon has been my carrier.  So, why the switch?
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    A couple reasons made my decision. (1) Choice of devices. (2) Voice/data coverage in primary locations. (3) WiFi.

    Choice of Devices
    As a work mandate, if I want work email on the device, I have to use BlackBerry devices. My employer has determined the most recent available BlackBerry device on Verizon (BlackBerry Storm 9530) is not a viable option. That leaves us with older BlackBerry devices that have older operating systems (BBOS 4.5) and lower screen resolutions. For AT&T, they have one of the three available “next generation” BlackBerry’s, the Bold 9000. It has a newer operating system (BBOS 4.6), higher screen resolution, and other features. AT&T wins on the “newness” factor for devices, since the Storm was ruled out by my employer.

    Voice/data coverage in primary locations
    We all know the commercials for Verizon Wireless, about “the network”.  Well, sorry to say, I get little to no coverage at home with Verizon Wireless. The coverage is so bad that I never take a call on my mobile at home, knowing that it will end in a dropped call. Other primary business areas near me (Waltham, MA) have very poor coverage also. I switched to AT&T blindly, without knowing what coverage I would get. Boy, oh boy, I was pleasantly surprised. Voice/data quality at home is excellent. I commonly get 3G signal strengths, and have not dropped a single call in the three weeks I’ve been on AT&T. AT&T wins in my area. NOTE: The network all depends on where you are at.  Verizon has a great network, just not enough coverage where I need them.

    UPDATE: I completely forgot about the capability difference between the two different networks. Without going into the technical details, Verizon Wireless’ network is setup to allow voice or data. There is no simultaneous capability on Verizon to let you talk on a call and use data (internet) at the same time.  For AT&T’s 3G network, you have simultaneous voice and data capabilities. This was not a must have feature for me, but the cool thing is the ability to be on a call, while the integrated GPS is running Garmin software and updating maps over the AT&T data plan. In another scenario, I can be on a call trying to make plans for dinner, and use the web browser to locate directions to a restaurant.  This can’t be done on Verizon’s network.

    WiFi
    This area AT&T wins without any discussion. AT&T has been very open to devices with built-in WiFi for several years. Whereas Verizon has been slow to adopt WiFi. Verizon has only a few devices with WiFi, and none are BlackBerry. No WiFi on the Storm, and none on the next BlackBerry coming to Verizon sometime in the next couple months. The BlackBerry Bold for AT&T has WiFi built in. AT&T wins on the WiFi front.

    Wrap Up
    To sum up this part, I’m very happy with the AT&T network thus far. I previously had been lulled into beleiving Verizon was the only company with great network coverage, and that AT&T had poor coverage. Please keep in mind, your mileage may vary where you are located. My AT&T coverage is so impressive, that my wife will be dropping her Verizon plan when her contract is up in a few months and will sign up with AT&T.

    As far as customer service goes, I loved Verizon’s web site. I would use it regularly to keep track of my acocunt and pay bills. I very rarely call customer service for help, but Verizon’s customer service was hit or miss. They took care of me a few years ago when I had an accidental $700 monthly bill, but they were unable to help me with technical questions on the BlackBerry Storm. They also put up a brick wall, when I tried to transfer my Storm to my wife’s account (without a data plan). As for AT&T’s customer service, I do not plan on using it at all, since my employer will now handle all my BlackBerry/AT&T customer service needs.

    That’s it for now. Check back next time where I will focus on the comparison of the BlackBerry Bold 9000 versus BlackBerry Storm 9530.

  • Hello BlackBerry Bold on AT&T, Goodbye Storm on Verizon

    Posted on April 6th, 2009 Shawn 4 comments

    Welcome to part one of a multi-part romance novel (not exactly) of a man, and quest for the ultimate device and network.

    Part 1 – Last Days on Verizon Wireless
    Part 2 – First Days on AT&T
    Part 3 – BlackBerry Bold 9000 versus Storm 9530

    I’ve had a mobile device for almost 6 months. You know what that means. It’s time for something different. Although you may believe that is the reason I’m switching devices, it’s not exactly true.

    I’ve been with Verizon for about 6 years, having left Cingular (now AT&T) due to a billing issue. Verizon has been good to me. They have good (though not incredible) coverage, they have a good web site for managing accounts, and had 3G high-speed data before anyone else.

    Issues with Verizon are: their monthly plans are pricey (which isn’t a major deal if your employer pays or you can expense it), their devices are generally late to market (BlackBerry Storm excluded), and they have this crazy policy of not allowing Wi-Fi on their devices.

    The lack of Wi-Fi is what drove me away. As mentioned in earlier posts, I have terrible no Verizon coverage at home. At barely 1x, I can’t get data, all voice calls drop, and my battery always dies searching for a signal.
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    Last year I scoured the Verizon world for the BlackBerry Storm. I waited in line for hours on its launch date at my local Verizon store, and got one. I was retiring my Palm Treo 700p for the Storm. My new employer is an all BlackBerry shop, so I figured, why not get the latest device?

    The Storm has been a mixed bag for me.  Big and beautiful screen. Great sound quality and phone use. Decent UI. Click/touch screen makes it tough for typing anything. No Wi-Fi makes it basically useless at home, just like all other Verizon phones. All that aside, I would have kept the Storm if it weren’t for my employer who said “We will not allow Storms on corporate email”, because they are afraid of the amount of help desk calls they’d get with this new device.

    If Verizon had another 3G BlackBerry or something with Wi-Fi, I would have stayed. As of now, they do not. Even the upcoming BlackBerry 9630 for Verizon, will not have Wi-Fi. So, welcome (back) AT&T, and welcome the current mack-daddy of BlackBerry’s, the Bold 9000. 3G, simultaneous voice and data, GPS, bluetooth, and the deal sealer….Wi-Fi. I feel spoiled just talking about the specs in this bad boy. Yes, it has a full QWERTY keyboard (thank god). No, it does not have touchscreen (this is going to take some getting used too).

    While I was typing this post, I was activating the Bold. My number has been ported (or at least partially) from Verizon Wireless. The AT&T rep was not able to make a test call to me, but I was able to dial-out. I also received a random call on the Bold from someone looking for their lost cell phone.

    You may wonder what is in store for the Storm (which is due for a wonderful operating system update this month).  The Storm is going over to my wife, replacing her Motorola ROKR, or KRZR, or some other all CAPS bizarre acronym. She’s known for dropping and breaking phones, so I don’t expect the Storm to live well into the retirement golden years. But, it’s better than sitting in my desk drawer with my two other Treo’s and older LG phones, right?

    Check back, as My Gadget Obsession starts a new chapter with the BlackBerry Bold 9000.

  • $99 iPhone??

    Posted on December 4th, 2008 Pabel No comments

    So there’s a new rumor floating around at Engagdet that Wal-Mart will be getting a 4GB iPhone for $99.  They cite a BGR post and the Wal-Mart training materials spied above.

    Now obviously 4 GB isn’t that much storage, but this certainly seems like a viable option for smartphone users who don’t mix their phone and music player.  Would anyone interested in having the mp3 player/phone combo even consider this option?  Personally, I have an 8 GB iPhone and am currently using 1.07 GB’s.  Admittedly, I’m not a heavy music/media consumer, but 4 GB wouldn’t really be all that bad for my use.  I know that as my wife continues to develop the iPhone bug, this would definitely be an attractive option for her.

    I’m assuming Apple will move a good amount of product at this price, and ATT could care less since the plans are all the same, but how do tech savvy people feel about this possible development?

  • BlackBerry Storm & Bold Update

    Posted on November 10th, 2008 Shawn No comments

    I just got back from my weekly stop at the local mall to check on the Bold and Storm. So, here goes the update.

    I’ll start with the Bold since it is now available. Before heading around the food court for 10 free samples of Orange Chicken, I stopped at the AT&T store. Five feet outside the store, I spied the Bold on the display wall….this time, it was a real Bold, not the dummy they had last week.

    I spent some time playing (keep in mind, this is my first BB experience. I’m currently a Treo user). The screen resolution is nothing less than beautiful. I’ll get back to it in a minute, but honestly the most beautiful display I have ever seen on a smartphone.

    The keyboard just feels good. In no time I was typing away like I had used this thing for years.  Keys feel good in the hands, not too big & not too small.  Only thing that I had a hard time with was realizing the ALT key for things like punctuation.  It’s a lot like the Treo, just took a minutes to figure it out.

    Trackball and navigation is really good too.  The track ball flies and easy to use. I hear lot’s of people saying it gets all gummed up after lot’s of use (like a mouse ball).  I can see that, but new it flies.

    The interface is “snappy” (as the kids say).  Seriously, from app-to-app, it just flies.  No lag, like I have always been used to on the Treo.  Very impressed.

    On a similar note, I constantly tried to touch the screen to navigate, due to 4+ years of rocking a touchscreen Treo.  The on-screen buttons/icons on the Bold are so big, I immediately think it is a touch screen, but no.

    Now on to media.  Played a song, and wow it was loud and clear.  The speakers on this thing rock!  I tried two demo videos on the device, and I am in awe.  The Speed Racer trailer is just incredible.  Crystal clear and stunning picture.  Though, to hop off the fanboy wagon for a sec, it stuttered at the end as it was transitioning back to the Media application.

    To round it out, the device feels good in the hand.  The screen is wider but sorter than the Treo’s.  The leather back feels good.  I very much liked the device.  With Treo stylings, and WiFi it’s going to be hard not to pick one of these up.

    Oh….you want to know how the phone works?  Dunno….I generally don’t care much about the phone on my smartphones…go figure.  I’ll post the specs after the break

    Now, I head over to the Verizon store for the Storm update.  Same freakin’ update I got last week.  “Next month”.  I asked, “So are you saying December?”  And the guys says, “*sip from his iced coffee* Yup”.  WTF!?

    BlackBerry 9000 Bold Specs:

    • UMTS/HSDPA: 2100/1900/850 MHz and GSM: 1900/1800/900/850 MHz
    • BlackBerry OS 4.6
    • Intel 624 MHz processor
    • QWERTY keyboard and trackball
    • Integrated GPS/A-GPS reciever with photo geotagging support
    • 802.11 a/b/g WiFi
    • Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support
    • 2.75 inch VGA (480×320 pixels) display
    • 1GB internal flash ROM memory and 128MB flash RAM for running applications
    • microSD card slot for storage (SDHC support)
    • 2 megapixel camera with flash
    • 3.5mm standard headset jack
    • 1500 mAh battery
      Dimensions:
    • Weight: 4.8 ounces
    • Length: 4.48 inches
    • Width: 2.6 inches
    • Thickness: 0.59 inch
  • AT&T Releases BlackBerry Bold

    Posted on November 4th, 2008 Shawn No comments


    At 6:28 AM this morning, I received an email from AT&T. It’s official, they have finally released the long awaited BlackBerry Bold. So, now you (assuming you live in the U.S.) can go get yourself the phone that the rest of the world has been enjoying for over 5 months now.

    It really does looks like a great phone, with amazing specs. I’m honestly tempted to pick it up. But, with the very intriguing Storm on Verizon coming out in a week….I’ll wait.

    How’s about you?

  • BlackBerry Bold, on AT&T November 4

    Posted on October 22nd, 2008 Shawn No comments

    BoldWell, now you can FINALLY get your hands on a Bold (in the U.S.)  Since nearly every other land-based location in the world already has it, AT&T has finally given us a date of release.  November 4 it is.  Oh, and it’s $299 with a 2-year contract…holy crap, that’s expensive.

    You may know that I was all for the Bold back in the Winter, Spring, and Summer…then it just took too long and I heard about the Storm coming for Verizon.  Now the Bold is old news for me, and I’m holding out for the Storm.  Good news is, the Storm is looking to ship on Verizon only 10 days after the Bold on AT&T.  Yep, the Storm is due November 14.
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    Looks like RIM will have a solid 3rd quarter this year.  Good thing since their stock (like everyone else’s) is currently in the crapper.

    What say you?  Bold, Storm?  Something else?  Don’t care?

  • AT&T scared of Verizon’s BlackBerry Storm?

    Posted on September 24th, 2008 Shawn No comments

    Well, lookey here. AT&T is showing signs fear, due to Verizon’s upcoming BlackBerry Storm release. If you don’t know, the Storm is the closest thing to an iPhone killer to be created. Thanks to BoyGeniusReport and CrackBerry for tracking down this supposed internal AT&T announcement.

    It is directly a hit to develop the Anti-Storm movement. It doesn’t even infer anything, it’s a direct hit on Storm, very interesting. Smells like someone (i.e. ma bell) is shaking in her shoes.

    Here’s my take, then I want to hear yours.

    The photo says Storm does not have multi-touch, but BB and Verizon marketing disagrees. The Storm is listed as a multi-touch device. So, WTF AT&T with the possible lies?

    Pintones Ringtone Loader For Blackberry.

    Sure, iPhone has a central store, iTunes. No dispute, Apple has a centralized controlling location to get iPhone apps…though that’s limiting, since Apple does not officially allow any 3rd-parties to create/distribute iPhone software. With BlackBerry, you can get software form several 3rd party developers/distributors. So, I do love the iTunes model, but I dispute that Apple being fully governing is better for consumers.

    iPhone is integrated with iTunes for on the go. Big F****ng deal. BlackBerry is going to have Slacker support, Rhapsody support, and others out of the box.

    iPhone has WiFi.   In a word, “ouch”.  Point iPhone, and finally something accuracte from AT&T propganda.

    iPhone has three bands.  So what?  Storm with have CDMA and GSM coverage.  It’s a WorldPhone, so both have full coverage.

    iPhone has GPS and maps.  C’mon AT&T, have you done any homework?  Storm has GPS and Google Mape, plus other GPS software options.

    iPhone has rich HTML email.  OMG megatons, so will the Storm.  Man, this ad is terrible, and filled iwth mistruths.

    iPhone uses Safari (which is based on webkit).  So, the Storm browser is built on webkit too.  Again, no win for iPhone.

    You know, until now, I was not a fanboy of the Storm, but I was interested in it.  Now, thanks to AT&T’s BS fest, I’m now really looking forward to hands-on iPhone / Storm head-to-heads.

    Rant over.  What say you?

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