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Phones

iPhone review: The good, the bad and the not so ugly

CNET.com's Kent German and Donald Bell worked around the clock to get their review of the iPhone up on the site. Here's our round-up of it

A full review of the Apple iPhone is finally up on the site, courtesy of our US sister site CNET.com. But if you're too lazy to read all of it and just want to know the basics, check out this quick round-up.

The good
The iPhone is very attractive and feels like a quality product. Its large, glass-covered touchscreen is easier to use than expected and makes viewing pictures and video particularly enjoyable. Being able to change the display from portrait to landscape mode by simply turning the iPhone on its side is very useful, as is the multi-touch technology, which lets you make images larger or smaller by pinching your fingers on the screen.

One of the features that most impressed the US reviewers was the iPod application -- the Cover Flow feature lets you browse through your albums by simply flicking your finger across the screen. According to the review, this is "Apple's most amazing iPod yet" and lets you do almost everything you can do on a normal iPod. Unlike an iPod though, you can view video content in widescreen and listen to music via a loudspeaker.

Web browsing is much better than on any other phone, with the iPhone displaying fully sized pages. To pan around a page, just swipe your finger across the display, and the page moves accordingly. "Tap your finger on a link to open a new page and double-tap your finger to zoom in and zoom back out. You can use the arrows on the bottom of the display to move back and forth, while a multifunction button at the bottom of the display lets you open new pages and flick among them."

Other noteworthy features include the ability to watch YouTube videos and find directions on Google Maps. Much touted is the ability to listen to individual voicemails by tapping on a list of them, rather than having to listen to each one in any particular order. Wi-Fi connectivity, missing on many smart phones, is present, and an automatic hot-spot finder lets you know when you're in a wireless area. For more of the iPhone's good points have a read of the full review here.

The bad
Although the iPhone features a significantly better touchscreen than any phone currently on the market, there are some issues with it. When typing an email or text message ,the keyboard is displayed only when you hold the iPhone vertically. As a result, you can only type comfortably with one finger, which cuts down on your typing speed. Using two hands is possible, but it's pretty crowded typing with both thumbs while holding the iPhone at the same time.

As for searching through your contacts and playlists, it seems that some people might find the touchscreen interface a little too fiddly. "We found it somewhat tedious to scroll through long lists, such as the phone book or music playlists. Flicking your finger in an up or down motion will move you partway through a list, but you can't move directly to the bottom or top by swiping and holding your finger. Also, the lack of buttons requires a lot of tapping to move about the interface."

The review also cites a possible issue with call quality, saying that it was a little too quiet at times and that the speakerphone underperformed at times too. So if you're hard of hearing then you might want to test out the iPhone first before you splash out. Something else that might bother you is the lack of 3G, which makes browsing out of Wi-Fi range extremely slow. Rumours have it, however, that a 3G version will be ready by the time the iPhone hits the UK.

Other issues that left the CNET.com team a little confused were things like the 3.5mm headphone jack recess being too small for standard headphones to fit into properly, and the lack of stereo Bluetooth, which means you can't listen to music wirelessly. The inability to manually drag and drop content from an iTunes library directly to the iPhone also vexed them, as did the lack of a video mode on the camera. For more of the Apple iPhone's bad points have a read of the full review here.

The conclusion
Overall, the CNET.com team really liked the iPhone and even though there are a few small problems with it, most of these will probably be solved via software updates or in future models. Without a doubt this is the hottest gadget out there right now and you'll be able to get your hands on one later this year. Make sure to come back to CNET.co.uk for regular updates on the iPhone and more information about UK availability. -Andrew Lim