Mobile Deathmatch: RIM BlackBerry Torch 9800 vs. Apple iPhone 4

See how well the new touch-based BlackBerry and the latest iPhone do in a face-off.

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The top smartphone contenders: Who's best?

Apple's iPhone has reinvented the mobile phone, while the longtime smartphone king, the venerable BlackBerry, has been slow to change. Now, Research in Motion has updated the BlackBerry to incorporate modern touch capabilities while remaining very much a BlackBerry. Here's how the two devices compare in everyday usage.

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This slideshow, "Mobile deathmatch: RIM BlackBerry Torch 9800 vs. Apple iPhone 4, side by side," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com.

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BlackBerry Torch vs. iPhone 4: The home screen

The iPhone 4's home screen (left) displays installed apps, adding panes as needed for more apps. The app bar at the bottom is visible on all home screens, holding the apps you choose. The Torch's home screen (right) is sparer, but it gives you a message status indicator that you can click to list recent messages and appointments, as well as icons for your email accounts. Plus, you can open the applications screen by tapping the title bar ("All," here).

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BlackBerry Torch vs. iPhone 4: Managing apps

The iPhone 4's multiple home screens (bottom left) let you rearrange your apps as desired; tap and hold an app to enter apps management mode (upper left), where you can move or delete them. The Torch has several home screens, such as All (upper right), that you can navigate among by sliding the title bar. You move and remove a BlackBerry app by tapping and holding the app's icon to get a contextual menu (lower right). To move an iPhone app, you just drag it to its new location. To move an app on the Torch, you tap the location you want to move the app to.

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Future of Wireless: It's a BlackBerry AND iPhone World--and That's a Good Thing

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BlackBerry Torch vs. iPhone 4: Getting apps

Apple's App Store app (left) and RIM's BlackBerry App World app (right) are similar, though Apple makes it easier to switch among app-finding methods through the use of onscreen buttons. To switch app-finding modes on the Torch, you need to press the Escape button to go back to a screen with the other options. There are many more apps available for the iPhone, and the quality is generally higher. Also, BlackBerry apps often require a restart after installation -- an unheard-of action on an iPhone.

Goodbye BlackBerry: Future Belongs to iPhone

Future of Wireless: It's a BlackBerry AND iPhone World--and That's a Good Thing

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BlackBerry Torch vs. iPhone 4: Switching apps

The iPhone 4 and Torch have you access apps the same way: via the home screens on the iPhone and via the Home, Media, and Favorites screens on the Torch (as well as through the Applications folder). Both devices support multitasking, though the iPhone's iOS 4 requires that apps specifically enable multitasking and limits the capabilities that can run in the background. It's easy in both devices to see what apps are running. On the iPhone (left), double-click the Home button; on the Torch (right), tap and hold the Menu button.

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BlackBerry Torch vs. iPhone 4: Browsing the Web

Both the iPhone 4 (left) and Torch (right) provide capable, simple browsers. The Torch's browser supports more HTML5 features than the iPhone's, but the iPhone's has more navigation options onscreen, so you don't have to invoke menus to go back a page or to search the Web. Neither supports Adobe Flash.

Goodbye BlackBerry: Future Belongs to iPhone

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BlackBerry Torch vs. iPhone 4: Text selection and copying

The iPhone 4 makes it easy to edit text: Simply insert the text cursor where you want to make a change. The iPhone even magnifies the area you are touching to make the text more legible (upper left). When you tap and hold on text in any app, the iPhone provides selection handles and pop-up buttons such as Copy, Delete, and Paste, as appropriate for the current context (lower left). It also can copy graphics. By contrast, the Torch (right) can't copy graphics at all and can't copy text in browsers and in the original parts of emails you are replying to. The Torch's selection mechanism has no zoom capability, and selection requires the use of the Menu button's contextual menu.

Goodbye BlackBerry: Future Belongs to iPhone

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BlackBerry Torch vs. iPhone 4: Using maps

The iPhone 4 (left) uses Google Maps, which has more map views than the AT&T app on the Torch (right). The iPhone app also makes common functions more easily available through always-on options; the Torch requires that you click the Menu button to get options such as getting directions. Both let you use the pinch and expand gestures to zoom in and out.

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BlackBerry Torch vs. iPhone 4: Working with contacts

Apple's iPhone 4 (left) has a more readable display and lets you more easily move among contacts with the letter list on the right-hand side. The Torch (right) uses the Search bar to navigate through your contacts (the iPhone also has a Search bar). When you search for a name, the Torch's onscreen keyboard obscures much of the screen. Also, it doesn't autohide when not in use (unlike the iPhone's); you have to hide it via a contextual menu command.

Goodbye BlackBerry: Future Belongs to iPhone

Future of Wireless: It's a BlackBerry AND iPhone World--and That's a Good Thing

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BlackBerry Torch vs. iPhone 4: Working with calendars

The iPhone 4 and BlackBerry Torch both support multiple calendars in their Calendar apps, as well as multiple views of your schedule. The iPhone (left) is easier to use, as its month view shows the selected day's appointments at bottom, and the iPhone always shows the calendar navigation, invitation response, and event-adding controls. The Torch (right) pushes these controls into the Menu button's options (not shown), but its monthly view does show markers for each appointment that provide a rough idea of their time and duration.

Goodbye BlackBerry: Future Belongs to iPhone

Future of Wireless: It's a BlackBerry AND iPhone World--and That's a Good Thing

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BlackBerry Torch vs. iPhone 4: Reading e-mail

The iPhone 4's e-mail client (left) offers more context than the Torch's client (right). For example, the iPhone indicates if you're in a folder, plus it makes more capabilities available without using menus, such as marking a message unread, moving a message, refreshing your mail, and composing a new message. The Torch offers these capabilities through a contextual menu. Both smartphones' email clients look up addresses in your contacts database as you enter names into To and Cc fields.

Goodbye BlackBerry: Future Belongs to iPhone

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BlackBerry Torch vs. iPhone 4: Working with mail folders

Both the iPhone 4 (left) and BlackBerry Torch (right) can display folders for Exchange and IMAP accounts, though the iPhone 4's display is much more user-friendly and makes it easier to work with mail folders than on the Torch.

Goodbye BlackBerry: Future Belongs to iPhone

Future of Wireless: It's a BlackBerry AND iPhone World--and That's a Good Thing

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BlackBerry Torch vs. iPhone 4: Working with mail lists

The iPhone 4's iOS 4 changed the UI for working with multiple accounts, providing two lists: one for all messages (upper left) and one that lets you see accounts' folder hierarchies (bottom left). It's an unnecessary duplication. The Torch uses a very different approach: From the home screen, you can tap an indicator to get a consolidated list of new messages (upper right), and from the Messages app you get a unified list of all messages received and sent (lower right). The iPhone lets you select multiple messages for deleting or moving to folders, whereas the BlackBerry makes you search for messages to create a list; only then can you select to act on all the messages at once.

Goodbye BlackBerry: Future Belongs to iPhone

Future of Wireless: It's a BlackBerry AND iPhone World--and That's a Good Thing

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BlackBerry Torch vs. iPhone 4: Location privacy controls

The iPhone 4 (left) provides a central location in its Settings app's General pane to manage location privacy preferences on a per-application basis; it also has an option to disable location detection universally. The BlackBerry Torch (right) lets you turn geolocation on or off, and control the type of geolocation used, but it does not provide per-application management.

Goodbye BlackBerry: Future Belongs to iPhone

Future of Wireless: It's a BlackBerry AND iPhone World--and That's a Good Thing

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BlackBerry Torch vs. iPhone 4: Security settings

The iPhone (left) places its basic security controls in its Setting app, while the Torch places (right) them in a folder in its Setup app. Their capabilities are similar, though the Torch provides a SIM lock option plus controls over data storage not available on the iPhone, while the iPhone provides a restrictions capability that lets you disable certain apps and services, which BlackBerry leaves to its administration server.

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Future of Wireless: It's a BlackBerry AND iPhone World--and That's a Good Thing

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Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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