SideXSide: HP Pre3, iPhone 4 and BlackBerry Torch

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 02-22-2011

On Feb. 9, 2011, HP took to the stage to unveil its future mobile strategy. In addition to announcing a new tablet, called the TouchPad, that will be launching later this year, the company unveiled the HP Pre3 smartphone.

The device, which will replace the Palm Pre Plus, boasts a 3.58-inch multitouch display and a slideout QWERTY keyboard, among other features. HP -- which acquired Palm in 2010 -- looks to be positioning the device as an option for corporate user. Of course, the BlackBerry, and especially the Torch -- its latest incarnation from RIM -- remains the stalwart of the U.S. mobile enterprise. Meanwhile, Apple's iPhone 4 is perhaps more appealing than ever to enterprise users now that it's available on the Verizon Wireless network.

What do all these devices really offer the enterprise user? Here's a sideXside comparison of Apple iPhone 4, Apple, the HP Pre3, and RIM BlackBerry Torch to help you decide what's right for your enterprise. 

SideXSide: HP Pre3, iPhone 4 & BlackBerry Torch

Features

Apple iPhone 4

HP Pre3

RIM BlackBerry Torch

Operating system

Apple's iOS 4

WebOS

BlackBerry 6 OS

U.S. carrier support

AT&T and Verizon

Unknown

AT&T

Security features

Apple's iPhone 4 boasts a slew of security features, including a device passcode to keep people away from the device, and a remote wipe feature if the iPhone is lost. It also comes with built-in AES 256-bit encryption and sandboxing to add an additional layer of security to the hardware and software. The platform works with VPN services to maintain network security over the entire transmission. Most security issues arise with the iPhone 4 when the device is jailbroken.

Details are relatively slim on all of the security features that will be made available in the Pre3. The device will come with many of the options available in previous versions of Palm WebOS, including support for VPN and SSL, as well as remote wipe. WebOS on the Pre3 will come with built-in encryption and password protection to help companies secure the information stored on the platform.

The RIM BlackBerry Torch delivers multiple security features, including the most basic -- a device passcode -- as well more important features, such as encryption of data, VPN support, control over the permissions third-party applications can have, and much, much more. RIM's BlackBerry 6 OS delivers some of the most useful business-focused security features of any operating system in the space.

Key business features

Apple's iPhone 4 comes with a variety of business-focused features, including the ability to video-conference with other iPhone 4 users. It also supports Microsoft Exchange and the ability for users to have multiple Exchange ActiveSync accounts. Companies can wirelessly configure settings and monitor compliance with use policies, thanks to its Mobile Device Management. The company also allows firms to create in-house apps for internal use.

HP is touting many of the business features available in the Pre3, including video-conferencing capabilities and support for mobile hotspots, allowing users to share a 3G connection with up to five other devices at the same time. Noise-cancelling headphones are also included with the device.

As one might expect, the BlackBerry Torch from RIM is packed with business features. It includes support for BlackBerry Enterprise Server, and comes with a slightly better browsing experience than previous versions of the BlackBerry. In addition, the platform comes with built-in GPS and support for BlackBerry Maps. It's Cisco CCX certified.

App support

Outstanding. However, it should be noted that the 350,000 apps in the App Store right now are mostly consumer-focused. A slew of business apps are available, however.

Hard to say. HP is promising "thousands" of applications in its marketplace, but so far, development for WebOS has been sluggish.

Development for BlackBerry OS has been sluggish. However, programs that have been developed for the platform are business-focused, and so-called "super apps" have enhanced functionality.

Productivity considerations

Apple's iPhone 4 is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to productivity. On one hand, it features all kinds of apps to keep employees doing what they must. But it's also a consumer-focused product, which means employees might find themselves surfing the Web, watching video, listening to music, and engaging in other non-work activities.

HP's WebOS platform, like iOS, will be designed with the needs of both consumers and enterprise customers in mind. Overall, though, like the iPhone 4, productivity should be quite high among employees who are focusing on their work.

When it comes to actual enterprise productivity, it's hard to beat the BlackBerry Torch. The device runs BlackBerry OS, which has been notorious among consumers for not delivering all the "fun" that iOS offers. The BlackBerry is built for the enterprise and its functionality revolves around work. Overall enterprise productivity will likely be quite high among employees.

Keyboard

Virtual keyboard only, making it somewhat difficult to type out long messages.

Slide-out physical keyboard, which should help for typing out long messages.

Both on-screen virtual keyboard and slide-out keyboard.

Administrative control

As mentioned, one of the most important aspects of administrative control in the iPhone is its Mobile Device Management feature, which lets companies establish different policies and monitor employees to ensure they're following those policies. The iPhone 4 also lets companies decide what kind of applications employees can access and set App Store permissions.

HP has yet to reveal full details on the level of administrative control in the Pre3. However, previous versions of the Pre allowed IT administrators to establish different protocols on the device, which should be carried over to the new smartphone. 

When it comes to enterprise administrative control, it's hard to beat the BlackBerry Torch. IT staff can set up BlackBerry Enterprise Server, configure BlackBerry devices to work with technologies that need to be implemented, and much more. Like Apple, RIM also offers mobile management and the ability for companies to ensure employees are following through with use policies.

Battery life on single charge

According to Apple, the iPhone 4 has up to 7 hours of talk time on 3G and up to 14 hours on 2G. Its standby time is up to 300 hours and Internet use will last for up to 6 hours on 3G.

HP has yet to reveal battery life, but it comes with a 1230 mAh battery, which is slightly less capable than the BlackBerry Torch's 1300 mAHr battery.

According to RIM, the BlackBerry Torch has up to 5.5 hours of talk time on GSM and can last nearly 432 hours on standby

Price

$199 for 16GB and $299 for 32GB after two-year contract.

Unknown. Details should be announced in the coming months.

$99.99 after two-year commitment.

Source: CIO Insight, February 2011