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iPhone 4 vs. HTC Desire

Now that the wraps are off the iPhone 4 what phone will you be buying? We pit the latest iPhone against the highest-rated phone on CNET Australia this year: the HTC Desire.

Now that the wraps are off the latest iPhone it seems everyone around us is plagued with indecision. Many people we know who had made up their minds to buy an HTC Desire are now wavering, is the iPhone 4's feature set enough to steer iPhone haters and deserters back to the Kool-Aid? The only way to settle this is with an old-fashion smackdown: the latest iPhone up against the highest-rated smartphone of the year so far.

iPhone 4 vs. HTC Desire

iPhone 4 HTC Desire
Operating system iOS 4 Android 2.1
HSDPA 7.2Mbps 7.2Mbps
HSUPA 5.6Mbps 2Mbps
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 802.11b/g
GPS Yes Yes
Accelerometer Yes Yes
Gyroscope Yes No
Screen size 3.5-inch 3.7-inch
Screen resolution 960x640 800x480
Handset depth 9.3mm 11.9mm
Processor 1GHz* 1GHz
RAM 256MB* 576MB
Internal storage 32GB 512MB
Expandable memory No Yes

*These iPhone specs are approximations based on hardware in the Apple iPad.

Software comparison: widgets, multitasking, apps

Widgets: the differences between Apple's mobile OS and the Google Android OS are becoming harder to define as both platforms mature. On the surface the major difference is the way both systems display content. Both systems use multi-panel home screens that users can customise with app shortcuts, folders, direct dialling shortcuts and web browser bookmarks, but Android takes the home screen one step further with widgets. A widget is a live home screen panel that updates with phone or web content as it is made available. You might choose a calendar widget for one screen, a favourite contacts widget for another and HTC's own Friends Stream widget on a third for displaying an aggregation of your Facebook and Twitter accounts. The iPhone has access to apps to perform all of these tasks but cannot display their current state on the home screen, forcing users to open and close the various apps to interact with these tools.

Multitasking: is one of the iPhone's latest tricks, and one that users have been crying out for since day one. It is also a feature that Android users have enjoyed since the first release of the OS, but is there a difference between the two? In regards to the user experience for everyday users, the difference is negligible, though advanced users will be able to see the areas where the Android multitasking solution excels. Both systems don't offer true multitasking, but instead save an application's state when in the background. The difference comes with how both systems handle background tasks, and the explanation is a bit complex. If you're interested in the ins and outs of these behaviours check out a detailed breakdown by David Quintana at his website.

Apps: when considering which platform has the best apps, it's tempting to simply quote the overwhelming difference in the total number of apps. But the fact that the Apple App Store has nearly five times as many apps as Android doesn't explain why it is the better store. For starters, gamers have a simple choice, and until Android developers catch up with excellent 3D games, the iPhone is the only real choice for entertainment. The only thing we love about the Apple App Store is the ability to browse the store on our PCs and side-load apps to the phone. There are a couple of great third-party Android app aggregation sites (App Brain is our personal favourite), but none compare to the ease of iTunes.

These are the elements of both phones that are easiest to judge without us having seen the iPhone 4; others like media playback and the new 5-megapixel camera will have to be compared during our review process.

Let us know which feature comparison matters most to you by dropping us a line in the comments below.