BlackBerry Torch 9800 VS the iPhone 4

The new BlackBerry Torch 9800 was given its official release of August 12th today and shown off in its release form. Its official specifications were also made available, allowing the first real comparison between Research In Motion’s (RIM) much awaited smartphone and Apple’s iPhone 4. While Apple managed to beat RIM to the market with its iPhone 4, the smartphone has suffered from a number of problems, including the much publicized ‘Antennagate’ antenna attenuation problem that occurred when it was held in a ‘death grip’ around the lower left corner. While dubbed the ‘death grip,’ the name had nothing to do with a strong grip, it was because of the way it killed the signal bars and resulted in dropped calls even with a light touch. So how has the new Torch 9800–looks like the name Slider is out along with Bold–demonstrated that RIM has learned some lessons from the emergence of serious smartphone competitors in the past three years? Read on and I will compare the new Torch to the new iPhone.

The Official Specs of the Torch 9800

  • Size (LxWxD): 4.4″ x 2.4″ x 0.57″ when closed, 5.8″ x 2.4″ x 0.57″ when open
  • Weight: 5.7 ounces
  • Memory: 512MB of flash memory
  • Storage: 4GB of internal storage memory
  • Expandable Storage: included 4GB microSD card, expandable to 32GB
  • Screen: half VGA+ (360 x 480 at 3.2 inches diagonally)
  • Keyboard: 35 key QWERTY with backlighting and on screen keyboard
  • Camera: 5 megapixel with flash
  • Video Camera: 640 x 480
  • Front-facing Camera: none
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth: 2.1 with A2DP/AVCRP
  • Operating System: BlackBerry OS 6

The Official Specs of the iPhone 4

  • Size (LxWxD): 4.5″ x 2.31″ x 0.37″
  • Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Memory: 512MB of RAM
  • Storage: 16 or 32GB depending on model
  • Expandable Storage: none
  • Screen: 960 x 640 (3.5″ diagonally)
  • Keyboard: On screen, no physical keyboard
  • Camera: 5 megapixel with flash
  • Video Camera: 720p HD capable
  • Front-facing Camera: VGA quality
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth: 2.1 + EDR
  • Operating System: iOS 4



Comparison between the Torch 9800 and the iPhone 4

Both the Torch 9800 and the iPhone 4 are excellent smartphones and arguably two of the most advanced available. However, each does have some unique features. For example, if you really want or need to do video calling, then the iPhone 4 is the better option since it is the only one with a front facing camera. Keep in mind though, that the other party will need an iPhone 4 also, unless you are willing to use third party software like Fringe. At the same time, the iPhone 4 lacks a physical keyboard and an expandable storage option.

Besides these features, the iPhone 4 does have a noticeably sharper and larger screen. However, since the smartphone lacks a physical keyboard, to input text you will have to use the on screen one, which does cut into available screen real estate. As for the cameras, BlackBerry OS 6 brings a slew of new features including auto-focus, facial recognition and scene setup to the new Torch. The iPhone 4, while lacking some of those features, does have the ability to shoot in 720p HD video and is capable of editing video. The Torch, unfortunately, is not able to shoot video in HD.

Then we get to the feel of the two devices. The iPhone 4 is incredibly thin and light, however the 9800 Torch has a solid feel to it and the sliding keyboard mechanize works excellently. The Torch does not feel off balanced when it is held open either, as I am sure some have worried would be the case. Result? The physical dimensions of these smartphones are both good enough that they should not factor into your decision on which one to go for.

Unfortunately, both of these phones are only available through AT&T at the moment. Though, I am sure the Torch will find an additional carrier and the iPhone is rumored to be coming to Verizon sometime around the end of the year. Of course, always take the Verizon iPhone rumors with a grain of salt, as they have persisted since 2007.

So which phone is the better one? That is a difficult question to answer. BlackBerry OS 6 is very impressive and was truly built from the ground up with touchscreen support. Also, SurePress technology does not appear on the Torch 9800, which is surely a relief to those who hated the Storm series. At the same time however, if you are okay with using a bumper case with the iPhone 4 to prevent any signal issues, the sharp screen and HD video ability is a major plus. Both of these phones will do what you need to. The one you prefer will probably just have to come down to which manufacturer you like more, if you need video calling, and if you prefer a physical keyboard.

I am sure that you all have an opinion already, so let the comments fly. Is ‘Antennagate’ too big of a deal to consider the iPhone 4? The lack of HD video abilities in the Torch a problem? Want these phones on another carrier? Let me know!

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