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BlackBerry Torch available to pre-order from Vodafone, priced like iPhone

The BlackBerry Torch is available on pre-order from Vodafone, the first network to offer it, and the tariffs show it's being marketed at near iPhone 4 prices.

RIM's new flagship smart phone, the BlackBerry Torch, is available to pre-order from Vodafone, and the tariffs are very similar to the ones leaked last week.

The only way you can get a free Torch on contract is if you sign up to pay £40 or more for 24 months, or £45 or more for 18 months. You'll get a tonne of free minutes and texts, but only 500MB of mobile Internet. In comparison, an iPhone 4 contract with Vodafone gives you 1GB.

Looking to bag the BlackBerry Torch for less wonga every month? You're going to have to shell out for the phone up front. If you sign up for the 18-month, £25 a month contract, for example, you'll have to pay a whopping £399 for the handset, and you'll only get 100 minutes, 500 texts and the 500MB of data.

When we first took a peek at the prices a week ago, we thought it was rather steep, and we haven't changed our minds. You can also get a £20 a month contract with identical minutes, texts and handset cost, but will lock you in for two years. A list of the tariffs are here.

It wouldn't be fair to compare contracts for other phones simply due to the differences between minutes, texts and Internet offered. But put simply, the Torch is pricing itself as a high-end RIM equivalent to the iPhone 4, and it remains to see whether you'll be willing to pay that. Other websites are pricing an unlocked version at about £480.

In comparison to the prices being bandied about for other premier smart phones, it also sounds expensive. For example, Nokia's flagship N8 is available SIM-free for £330 if you shop around, and available free for 18-month £35 contracts, rather than the £45 a month you'll have to pay for the Torch.

If you pre-order from Vodafone, you should expect to have it by 27 September. Here's our first look at the touchscreen and Qwerty keyboard sporting phone, as well as a look at the new BlackBerry 6 OS it carries. Does it sound like a winner to you?