Palm Treo vs. BlackBerry

Hey Ya’ll,

So, I’ve had a trusty Palm Treo 650 for a long time. I’ve never kept a cell phone this long. It’s an incredible piece of equipment. Over the last 6 months, my trusty Treo 650 started wearing out. The screws keep falling out of the back. The antenna is loose. It won’t hotsync to my computer anymore unless I push the cable in perfectly, hold my breath, stand on one leg, and hold my breath. This is only because the hotsync port is just worn out from use.

So, I started thinking it was time to upgrade. I constantly get these “new every two” promotions from Verizon because it’s been way more than two years since I bought the Treo 650 – so I’m no longer “under contract”. Of course, if Verizon would carry Apple’s iPhone, I would’ve jumped immediately. Unfortunately, AT&T (Cingular) and their 5-year exclusive on the iPhone is a bad deal for an Apple lover like myself, as AT&T’s cellular service around here is not so great.

I got a promotional mailing the other day offering about $250 in discounts if I’d renew my 2-year contract. In our area (and most other areas I’ve ever been), Verizon has the best network easily. So, since Verizon won’t have the iPhone for a long time, I’m not afraid of a new 2-year agreement so I headed down to the Verizon store. These trips take me HOURS – I don’t walk in and walk out – I ask a ka-zillion questions, work on bargains, work more on more discounts, and drive the sales people crazy.

That being said, I renewed my contract and walked away with a sleek, cool new Verizon Blackberry Pearl RIM 8130. The Pearl was sexy and I’d never had a Blackberry before. With all the discounts and rebates, it was free. Right away I knew it was going to be a tough transition – it was totally different than the Palm OS.

I tried it for about a week. I gave it my best. There were things about the Blackberry I loved … and several things I didn’t like at all. About a day after I brought the Blackberry Pearl (RIM 8130 model) home, Jay and Brooke mentioned that Verizon had released a new Palm Treo 755p. What? I didn’t see one at the store!?

So, I called Verizon a couple of days ago (after spending a few hours researching the new Treo 755 online) and the reason I didn’t see it was because they hadn’t even gotten them in yet, but they had just received a few … they weren’t even on display yet, but were in the back.

It took me about 1 second to realize that I wanted the Treo 755 over the Blackberry Pearl. The problem was – the Pearl was free. The 755 was $250.00.

Well, all I can say is that with the right discount codes, favor from God and some work – I walked away with a brand new Palm Treo 755p for $50.00. (and of course, a new 2-year agreement with Verizon).

Granted, almost all of the reviews I read of the 755 were lackluster. Nothing great – everyone is upset that Palm hasn’t updated their OS in years. I can understand that. But the features it offers and stability it has is fine for me – especially when my Treo 650 was on it’s last legs for a heavy user like myself.

So here’s the showdown – what I liked and didn’t like:

Verizon BlackBerry Pearl RIM 8130 versus Verizon Palm Treo 755p

  1. Bible Software: WINNER – Treo 755p
    No MyBible or DailyReader from Laridian available on Blackberry: This was the biggest issue for me. I have used “MyBible” and “DailyReader” by Laridian for my daily bible reading schedule, etc., for years. Athough there are a few decent Bible packages for the BlackBerry, nothing remotely comparable to the MyBible/DailyReader combination. I missed it terribly.
  2. SMS/Text Messaging: WINNER – Treo 755p
    The PalmOS “threads” incoming/outgoing SMS/text messages to and from the same person into one place. The BlackBerry makes every incoming and outgoing message a new message. So, if you have no messages in your BlackBerry, and then SEND an outgoing SMS … you now have a message in your message folder – YOUR own outgoing one .. and unless you want to see your own sent message, you have to DELETE it. Get a reply – boom, that’s a 2nd message. Send a reply – there’s a 3rd message. On the Palm, they all show up in one line “Chat Thread with …” which you can click and see the entire conversation in one place. Palm OS also keeps your “Sent” messages in a “Sent” folder instead of making you see them in your main inbox.
  3. Email: WINNER: Treo 755p … but could be Blackberry Pearl RIM 8130 …
    Perhaps one of the things most loved about Blackberry is the way your email is “pushed” onto the device. I get tons of email, so this was overwhelming. Yes, I could turn it off … but it wasn’t manageable for me. I’d much rather use the VersaMail (or I’m trying a premium 3rd party app called SnapperMail now) so I can check my email when/if I need to … and ONLY then.
  4. Keyboard: WINNER – Treo 755p
    The Treo has a full QWERTY keyboard. The BlackBerry has two letters on each key – so you have to learn how to hit a key twice to get the other letter, or rely on their “intelligent” typing which figures out which word you’re typing and fills it in for you. Actually, I got rather use to this quickly, and it was the last of my worries. I did miss the full QWERTY keyboard though, and have it back now on the Palm 755p.
  5. Looks and Feel: WINNER – Blackberry Pearl RIM 8310
    Like I said, that Pearl was just sexy, period. The new Palm is cool, smaller, has no antenna, and is lighter than my old clunker Treo 650, but the Blackberry was light as a feather. It had a flashy chrome/steel look that was just “new”.
  6. Sync: WINNER – Tie
    Using MarkSpace.Com’s MissingSync software, both phones sync’d beautifully to my Mac.
  7. Interface: WINNER – Treo 755p
    It’s only the winner for me because I prefer to push, touch, and press (with a stylus) … that scroll wheel on the Blackberry was just weird for me … it felt cheap and loose, and seemed dirty.
  8. Media: TOSS UP
    I can’t really call a Winner here because Blackberry doesn’t allow you to shoot video until you have a MicroSD card. I bought one on Ebay the other day, but it hasn’t arrived yet. The camera on the Blackberry Pearl is clearly better than the camera on the Palm Treo 755. But I like that you can shoot video on the Palm and store it in the internal memory if you don’t have a Micro SD card. So, it’s a toss up – 2.0 MP camera on the Blackberry was better, but storage on the palm was better.

I could go on .. I doubt many of my regular blog readers made it this far .. haha, but who knows, if people search for comparisons via Google, they just might find this post.

When it’s all said and done – it was just too hard for a guy who has been on the Palm OS for 4+ years to convert to Blackberry. Both work well, but I’m confident I’ve got the phone I wanted now. I’ll still miss my old Treo 650 – it was (and still is considered by many) to be the best yet. They moved the “home” and “menu” button on the 755p, so I find myself accidentally dialing the voicemail all the time now, until I get used to the new keyboard layout on the Treo 755p.

So there’s my unusual tech round up.

Now for the comments – what type of cell phone, PDA, etc., are you using these days? How do you use it in your daily life? Do you sync you calendar, contacts, ToDo, pics, videos, etc? Let us know!


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45 comments on “Palm Treo vs. BlackBerry

  1. Chris Moncus says:

    Motorola Q, circa 2004

    Windows Mobile (at least this version) is beyond the usual “every phone has its quirks”. I think the phone itself is fine. Good reception. Good audio quality. But once you do anything beyond making a call it reminds me of its big brother Vista.

    I’m gonna be an iPhone owner as soon as I can. AT&T’s service will have to do. 🙂

    “Forgive me Dave Ramsey”

  2. Fred says:

    so … Chris … if you’re ditching Dave on this one … what are you waiting for??

  3. Chris Moncus says:

    Actually, we’re not ditching Dave on this one. There just aren’t any deals to be had. iPhones are $400 with no breaks. So, we’ll be saving all of the $400 over the next few months. 🙁

  4. Brooke says:

    You are one lucky dog! You know those things cost $429 without any plan at all! We’re not due for an upgrade until June unfortunately, so until then Jay will be stuck with his trusty Treo 600, and I’ll be using my LG “The V” till it just won’t work anymore!

    On another Verizon tangent, I’m really digging the USB Wireless Internet modem we got today…right now, we’re traveling down I-95, and I have broadband speed internet! A business expense that’s well worth the cost!

  5. Fred says:

    Brooke –
    way cool … that’s awesome, except for the pricey $50/month data plan. The BlackBerry had a $29/month unlimited (forgot to put that in the shootout).

    Are you referring to the EVDO technology? The Treo 755p has that as well, but I read somewhere that it’s not compatible with the Mac OS … did you get it working?


  6. Kevin Eades says:

    I played with our youth pastor Treo 755 and it was way better than blackberry. thats just if you ask me so I agree! I wonder if my dad is going to update soon. You guys got your phones about the same time

  7. Fred says:

    Hey Kev,
    Yeah, I actually thought about your Dad ’cause I knew we both loved our 650’s. Tell him to checkout the “review!”


  8. alex says:

    I’m an Treo owner from way back in the 300 days. I now have a beat up 700p, which is on it’s last leg – it’s just slowed way down, lost the stylus (which is OK since you look like the biggest geek ever using it). Anywhoo – Frank, did you consider the new $99 Centro ever? – it’s half as big and looks like it has the same features…

  9. Fred says:

    It’s Fred, you dawg .. not Frank .. haha.
    I don’t think the Centro is on Verizon .. is it?

  10. Kevin Eades says:

    Last year about this time his treo crashed and it was cheaper for Verizon to give him a new one then fix old one. Therefore he has a year old tero 650 that works and he loves.

  11. Rebecca Williams says:

    Found this blog via Google and also found it helpful in trying to decide between the Treo before the 755 ($100 less out of Social Security retirement) and the Blackberry Pearl. My old Palm got run over by a car today. Dead on the spot. And I needed to make a change in my Verizon plan. Appreciate the info.

  12. You forgot the biggest advantage of the Treo- 1000’s of programs avaialable , unlike the limited # avaialable for Crackberry or MyPhone. You can keep ’em – nothing beats the Swiss army knife- the Treo.

  13. Fred says:

    Gregory –

    You are right about that!

    I will say that I’ve found a couple of things that I don’t like … one of which was already mentioned in lots of reviews ….
    * battery life – barely makes it through a day … I’d read complaints about that on other reviews, so I can’t say I hadn’t already heard about that.
    * no “lookup from contacts” in the “send message” area. For example, previously, when you went to send a SMS or MMS, you could select from a drop-down list of previous recipients, or you could choose “select from contacts” which linked you over to the search contacts area .. .that’s gone in this Treo.
    * frequent OS freezes … I find that when the orange data light glows .. it frequenly “locks up” the whole phone for a few seconds at a time … which gets frustrating.

    All in all, NOTHING will compare to the Treo 650 … it’s still the best phone I’ve ever had .. but the Treo 755 will work as an upgrade.

    Bottom line for me – if your 650 is still in good shape, don’t upgrade at all … otherwise, you’ll be OK with the 755 – it’s nothing magical, but compared to moving over to Blackberry … for long-time Palm users, it will be fine.


  14. Brian says:

    my Treo 650 busted and my provider now only carries Blackberry. I’m in data-porting-hell. I have a Mac that I synch to and nothing seems to work. Any help out there?

  15. Fred says:

    A carrier that “only carries Blackberry”? I’d say “change carriers”. LOL.

    Have you tried MarkSpace.Com’s “Missing Sync” software? It works like a gem.

    My advice would be to hit Ebay and find a used-in-good-condition 650.


  16. James says:

    Thanks for the review, Fred. Good work. Our church board just approved a new cell phone plan for the pastors. I have to switch from my Sprint 700p to another 700p, a 755p a Pearl with Verizon. Your review confirmed some concerns I have about Blackberries in general. Also, I don’t like being “forced” into a $29 internet contract.

  17. Stephen says:

    Hi Fred,

    This is the first time I came to your blog. Nice meeting you!

    Understand your rave on the Treo 755. If I hadn’t been such Windows-dependent , I would’ve chosen a Treo myself. Ever compared Palm OS with Windows Mobile?


  18. Fred says:

    Hi Stephen,
    I wouldn’t be a good person to do that head-to-head, as I’m about as anti-Windows anything as any person on the planet. I’m a 100% Mac Guy. Had the iPhone had any decent carrier besides AT&T, I”d be on it!

  19. Matt says:

    I was wondering how you bargained with Verizon to get your 755p for only $50? What coupons are you talking about?

  20. Fred says:

    Hey Matt –
    Well, I had a $100 discount for the “new every two” promotion. Then, there was a $50 mail-in rebate. Then, I had an additional $100 off coupon I rec’d in the mail as part of a “valued customer” promotion. Finally, by activating the $49.95/month data plan, I got an additional $100 off … and I can cancel the data plan after 1 billing cycle.

  21. Michael says:

    I currently have a PDA and phone, looking to go down to one device. For about the last 2 months I’ve been looking at Bberry World Edition. When you were comparing Bberry with Palm, did you look at Verizon’s Bberry World Edition, qwerty keyboard, has a totally different feel. I too am a free agent. Did you receive those coupons from Verizon or did you go find them someplace.

  22. Fred says:

    3 of my co-workers have the BBerry WE … they love it. However, I didn’t want this phone for a couple of reasons:
    1 – I’d already figured out I liked the PalmOS (as archaic as it may be) better, and didn’t want to sacrifice the apps I’ve come to love on Palm.
    2 – I think the BBerry World Edition does NOT have a camera built-in … something I use ALL THE TIME as a father of 4 young kids …

    As for the coupons – one of them ($100) came by mail … but I was getting phone calls or promotions almost every week – since I was out of contract, I suppose.


  23. Mark says:

    On my third Treo (currently have the 755P). My fix for the menu button was to purchase Hi-Launcher and mapping it into the side key.

    The launcher behaves like the pop-up start menu on a Windows computer

    This launcher is highly configurable can add the menu key, alerts, soft reset, as well as an array of other options and any program on your phone. Thus you do not have to hold your Treo with two hands and contort your thumb to reach the menu key in the lower right hand corner of the Treo keyboard. Problem solved (I love the third-party software for the Treo which allows me to correct anything that I don’t like)!

  24. Deirdre says:

    Thanks for the comparison! I’m looking at the Palm and googled exactly Palm Treo vs. blackberry … you were right – your blog popped up. I’m thinking I am like you in many ways – so thanks for your thoughts!

  25. Fred says:

    Thanks Deirdre,

    Glad you stopped by. 6 mos into it, and I still have the Treo 755p, although I have constant issues with it going into 10-15 second freezes … something not uncommon at all, from the Palm support forums.

    Still, I haven’t gone back to the BlackBerry .. I just keep dreaming of the day Verizon supports the iPhone (which may never come).

  26. Pete says:

    Just came across your blog. Nice summation of the Palm vs BlackBerry question. Been flip-flopping for a year trying to consolidate a Verizon low-end cell phone and my Palm (old, venerable, only needs charging every 2-3 weeks Vx) I tried a MotorolaQ, but didn’t last a week. Awkward form factor and it was pitiful as a phone. Imagine that…..wanting a cell phone to make calls with. Ahhhh, the juggling continues…….

  27. Cass says:

    Thanks for the comparisons. I have had a few Palms, including the Treo. Now, trying to figure it out again. Like many have said, if I did not have Verizon, it would be the iPhone. Got you after googled blackberry v. treo.

  28. James says:

    I bought the Centro via Verizon a couple weeks ago. I love it because it’s much smaller than my previous 700p, has all of the previous generations features, and a great price point! The new 800 intrigued me for a while but it only comes in Windows. : (

  29. Nicole says:

    First choice would be iPhone, but since I’m a verizon user, I’m in a pickle. (I found you via google search)

    James, I too bought a Centro via Verizon online and it just arrived yesterday. Since looking at that incredibly small keyboard though, I’m beginning to think about exchanging it for a Bberry and have since done some research.

    Many of the mac forums I’ve been reading have been in support of the Bberry vs. the treo because the Palm OS softwear doesn’t sync smoothly or properly and many people had problems with needing to reboot. Plus the email was not smooth.

    I have read this and one other forum though that are in support of the treo. The treo unfotunately is not an option for me, only the centro (too pricey for what seems to be not that much more!) and so far it seems as though the Blackberry Pearl is winning this match.

    I’d love to hear more thoughts though on this matter and to hear how the Centro worked out for you James. (particularly the email, syncing with mac & soreness of thumb pertaining to the keyboard)

  30. James says:


    1. I’m on the Verizon network, as well.
    2. Like you, I would get an iPhone if I could. : )
    3. I don’t use e-mail or internet with my phone.

    I have a laptop & I’m in the office enough to take care of my e-mail/internet needs without having them on my phone. I love my Centro. Took me about a week to get used to the smaller buttons. Syncing not a problem since purchasing missing sync. I love the palm calendar and contacts. I also have a fantastic palm Bible program from Olive Tree which I use regularly.

    If e-mail/internet on your phone is a priority then I recommend you go Bberry. That’s what they’re best at.

    Still loving my Centro! Lots of complements.

  31. I found this article very useful – however i have bible software that is pretty good on my blackberry model 8700g.. It also has full keyboard and threads SMS messages… my biggest problem is now after aprox 5000 min per month talk time it will not stay connected to any bluetooth headsets for more than about 30 seconds…

  32. Lwood says:

    Ok, but how about the Palm Centro? Why does palm have two different models at once….are the buttons bigger on the 755 than the Centro, that would be an advantage. Did either one of them do the web well, or are they far behind the Iphone? Thanks, and yes, I landed via google.

  33. Richards Gawlowski says:

    I’m like you; I fear my old 650 is on its last legs so I’ve begun a comparison with the Blackberry products. Your blog was extremely helpful and has me comfortable with my inclination to stay with the Palm product. I have one stupid question: I’ve never downloaded anything from my 650 to an SD card and now I’m afraid I could lose all memos and other stuff stored on the 650 that I’m paranoid. Can you give a quick primer on how to download that stuff to my SD?

    Thanks for a great blog.

  34. Ellen Polivy says:

    Thanks for this blog. I too am a Mac user, minimal windows (except when I have no choice) and long time Palm user. I found you through Google. I dropped My trusty Treo 650 and the antenna flew somewhere. Now I get no reception and keep dropping calls. gotta do something fast. I’m thinking of trying the BB since I never really liked the way the email on the treo works. I get tons of email and it was very slow to delete and scroll around.Would it work better if I used a different program? I’m finally off contract and now a free agent. I can actually use ATT if I want. But what’s so good about the Iphone? I tried typing on the touchscreen and found it impossible to be accurate. I practiced on Ipod touch. I kept wishing I could use the stylus to be more accurate. With the Querty keyboard I’m completely accurate and can eventake notes at meetings. I’ve never used the BB but figured the Querty keyboard is more like the Treo and I am intrigued by the ease of the email. I’m thinking of keeping my Palm 650 for just the programs and use it like a notepad while I talk on the BB.(But since there is a gaping hole where the antenna used to be it might break and then I’ll be stuck) However, using the two devices solves the big problem of a smartphone: trying to take notes on the phone at the same time as talking on the phone. or listening to a phone message and trying jump to the memo section to write the message while jumping back to the phone mode in time to respond to the prompts. I never got fast enough jump back and forth between phone and message pad or trying to turn on my time tracking software while holding the phone to my ear. I wish Palm had a Querty keyboard for their non-phone Palms. Thanks for the idea about the 755. This might be the ultimate answer for me if I find, like you did, that I really don’t like the Blackberry. I would try out the Iphone if I could figure it out. 2 questions: 1)Does the iphone email work as well as the BB and can you get accurate with the touch screen typing?
    2)Is there a way to make the email on the Treo as fast as the BB in deleting and scrolling around? Anyone know?

  35. Ellen says:

    For Richard G, To backup to SD card on a Treo, I use a program called BackupMan. Ellen

  36. Fred says:

    I was just the opposite – I get tons of emails on multiple accounts, and didn’t like having to constantly delete them, and then be paranoid that I may accidentally also remove the emails from the server. I use VersaMail on the Palm, and it’s like a regular email client, and if I don’t WANT to check my email I don’t have to – w/ the push on the BB, it was constantly staring at me – 100 new messages …. etc.

    I’ve not updated here in a LONG TIME, but the truth be known, I’ve almost blown up my 755 a million times since writing this. It constantly locks and freezes on me … an issue I found reported by tons of people. I never switched it out for a new model, but wish I would’ve.

    I went to try the new BlackBerry Storm, but wasn’t crazy about it either ….

    For those who use the iPhone, they’ve all seemingly gotten very used to the typing issue within a day or two.

  37. Ellen says:

    Thanks for the feedback on the Palm. It’s starting to make me nervous. Palm’s not real good about quality control. I’m starting to look at the iphone. I’ll practice typing and see if I can master it. Thanks for the encouragement. Pity. The Palm is still the only platform that has my time billing software. I’ll have to use the Treo for that until it falls apart.

  38. Gavin says:

    Did you look at the Centro?


  39. Sunanta says:

    Hi, I am looking to change my Treo 650 and considering BB. no one has commented on BB 8900 Javelin or Bold. It’s newer version.

    As many bad experience with 755, I don’t think to buy another Palm, but still not satisfy with BB features, especially no touch screen.

    how about BB storm, no QWERTY keyboard, will it make typing more difficult?


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