BlackBerry Torch vs. iPhone 4: Smartphone showdown

Will the BlackBerry Torch smartphone be able to challenge the iPhone 4?

Apple's iPhone 4 has finally launched in Australia. Boasting a brighter screen, a faster processor and better battery life than its predecessors, the iPhone 4 is expected to maintain Apple's strong foothold in the smartphone market thanks to its amazing display and superbly constructed body. A new challenge to Apple's smartphone supremacy is on the horizon, however: RIM's BlackBerry Torch.

Read our BlackBerry Torch review.

More information on the BlackBerry Torch price.

Check out our Samsung Galaxy S vs. iPhone and HTC Desire vs. iPhone smartphone showdowns.

Despite the iPhone 4's popularity, it's not for everyone. The latest BlackBerry Torch is a slider phone designed to appeal to people who want a physical QWERTY keyboard as well as a touchscreen.

The Torch will run BlackBerry OS 6, the latest version of RIM's smartphone operating system. The new version of BlackBerry OS is designed to make it more touchscreen-friendly. It boasts touchscreen commands, Wi-Fi synchronising capabilities, social-networking integration and an all-new Web browser, bringing it in line with Apple's iOS and the Google's Android platform.

With this in mind, how does RIM's BlackBerry Torch stack up against the Apple iPhone 4?

BlackBerry Torch vs. iPhone 4

Feature Apple iPhone 4 RIM BlackBerry Torch Verdict?
Operating system (OS) Apple iOS 4 BlackBerry 6 Unknown
Display technology Capacitive retina IPS Capacitive TFT iPhone 4
Display resolution 640x960 pixels 360x480 pixels iPhone 4
Multitouch Yes Yes Draw
Camera 5 megapixels, LED flash, autofocus, geotagging 5 megapixels, LED flash, autofocus, geotagging, image stabilisation Draw
FM radio No No Draw
GPS Yes Yes Draw
Internal memory 16GB or 32GB 4GB iPhone 4
Expandable memory No microSD card slot BlackBerry Torch
Dimensions 115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3mm 111 x 62 x 14.6mm iPhone 4
Weight 137g 161g iPhone 4
Application store Apple App Store BlackBerry App World iPhone 4
Processor Apple A4 Marvell (624MHz) iPhone 4
3G networks HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100 HSDPA 850/1900/2100 Draw
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 802.11b/g/n Draw
Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP 2.1 with A2DP Draw
Quoted talk time Up to 7 hours Up to 5.4 hours iPhone 4
Quoted standby time Up to 300 hours Up to 336 hours BlackBerry Torch
Adobe Flash support No No Draw

Though we are yet to get our hands on the BlackBerry Torch, it's clear that its biggest advantage over the iPhone 4 will be its combination of a physical QWERTY keyboard with a touchscreen. Despite the iPhone's popularity, many people still prefer to type long e-mails or messages on a physical keyboard. RIM has a history of releasing BlackBerry phones with excellent keyboards.

One area where the BlackBerry Torch definitely falls short of the iPhone 4 is its display. The iPhone 4 uses IPS technology (also used by the iPad) and has been described as a "retina" display because of its 640x960 pixel resolution. Apple claims the human eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels on the screen. It's the best display of any smartphone we've seen to date, and it is particularly excellent at displaying text, with no visible aberrations even when zoomed in. The BlackBerry Torch's capacitive display is a smaller (3.2in compared with the iPhone 4's 3.5in) and lacks any advanced screen technology, such as the AMOLED display on the HTC Desire or the Super AMOLED screen of the Samsung Galaxy S.

It’s the BlackBerry Torch's software that will ultimately determine its success. Version 6 of the BlackBerry OS has been redesigned to make it easier to interact with a touchscreen. The UI has received a full upgrade, with action menus on each screen and the ability to use multitouch the big features. BlackBerry 6 will also offer tabbed Web browsing, a customisable home screen, kinetic scrolling, Wi-Fi synchronising capabilities, and social networking integration. Our first impression is that these features merely bring BlackBerry in line with the iPhone and Android platforms, rather than bring anything new to the table, but we are eager to spend some time with the OS before rendering a verdict.

The BlackBerry Torch is slightly larger and thicker than the iPhone 4, mainly due to the slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Unlike the iPhone 4, it has a removable battery and a microSD memory card slot for extra storage. The iPhone 4 has a stunning design that is just 9.3mm thick, making it one of the world's thinnest smartphones. Of course, its antenna design means it suffers from widely reported reception issues — if you use a case for your phone then it won't be a major problem but the flaw remains disappointing.

The Apple iPhone 4 is available through all carriers in Australia — Telstra, Optus, VHA and Virgin Mobile.

The BlackBerry Torch will also be available through Telstra, Optus and VHA, though no release date has been set. The smartphone is expected to be available "later this year".

Are you buying an iPhone 4? What do you think of the Australian iPhone 4 plans?

What do you think of the BlackBerry Torch? Do you consider it a valid alternative to the iPhone 4? Let us know in the comments below!

For full details on all the iPhone 4's new features, read our iPhone 4 review.

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

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