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New! Call quality samples in CNET smartphone reviews

CNET will now include call quality audio clips and more extensive CNET Labs testing results in select smartphone reviews.

As we're fond of saying, even the fanciest cell phones aren't worth much if they can't make a decent call. And though we've always included a subjective analysis of a handset's call quality in our reviews, we realize that you have to trust our opinion. After all, you're not on on the phone with us, so you're not going to know how the handset really sounds until you try it.

Yet, that's about to change. Starting this week, CNET will include audio clips in our smartphone reviews so you can hear a handset's call quality for yourself. Using the test device, we call a landline phone from the CNET offices in San Francisco or New York and leave a scripted message. We'll then take the audio from that voice mail and add it to the review. Though your ultimate call quality experience may vary slightly, we're hoping that these clips will help you make a better buying decision based on design, features, and performance.

We're also adding more extensive testing results from CNET Labs to give you even more information. These charts will go beyond battery testing to include the phone's boot time, the browser load time for a sample Web page when using Wi-Fi, the camera app load time, and the camera reshoot time. What's more, we'll also compare those results with a recent competing smartphone. Just keep in mind that some of these lab results won't be available until after the reviews posts, so be sure to check back if you find some information missing.

We're using the HTC Evo 4G and iPhone 4 as the test devices for these new elements. Here's how the chart and audio player will look in those reviews. Needless to say, the comparison chart in this case provided some very interesting insight as to how the iPhone 4 compares with the Evo 4G.

iPhone 4 call quality sample Listen now:

HTC Evo 4G call quality sample Listen now:

Performance tests from CNET Labs

Test iPhone 4 HTC Evo 4G
Phone boot time test 29.4 seconds 47.1 seconds
Talk time battery life 3G 7.76 hours 5.5 hours
Audio playback time 59 hours 18.2 hours
Video playback time 6.9 hours 5.9 hours
Browser load speed on Wi-Fi (Giantbomb.com) 15 seconds 20 seconds
Camera app load time 2 seconds 2 seconds
Camera reshoot time 1 second 3 seconds

For now, we'll include the audio clip and chart in our major smartphone reviews. We'll monitor how it goes, however, and may expand the program to other reviews in the future. And of course, we welcome your feedback and your suggestions. Enjoy!