Google search is the iPhone's default search tool, but you can use Yahoo search as well. When searching for information or typing URLs, you use the on-screen keyboard. It's just like typing an email, except that the space bar is replaced with Web-appropriate language like '.com' and a slash. That's a nice touch.
Thanks to the accelerometer, you can tip the phone on its side for a more comfortable landscape view. It doesn't matter which direction you rotate the phone, as it will work either way. Most Web pages looked great on the screen, but really busy pages like CNN.com can be too crowded. And because you can zoom in only a set amount, some text can still be too small to read clearly. You can store bookmarks and sync your favourite pages from your PC, but it only works for Internet Explorer and not Firefox.
You can activate the iPhone's integrated YouTube player straight from the main menu via a coloured icon. Videos are organised using many of the same criteria on the YouTube site, including Featured clips, Most Viewed, Top rated and Most Recent. You can read the information attached to a video, such as the date posted and the poster's name, but you can't read comments. It doesn't appear, however, that the YouTube connection updates in real time. We uploaded a video of our own, and it didn't show up until a few hours later.
The iPhone doesn't have integrated GPS, but it does have a widget for accessing Google Maps. You can get directions by telling the iPhone where you are and where you want to go, but you can't get real-time directions with turns or traffic updates. The map interacts well with the calling functions as you find a point of interest and ring it in just a few taps. We also like that you can get the Google satellite view.
Additional widgets point to share-price information and weather reports. You can program your own tickers and receive information like a share gain or loss and see a chart of a share price over a time period. The weather function gives you a six-day forecast of your city.
Visual voice mail
One of the most intriguing features on the iPhone is the much-touted visual voice mail. iPhone's voice mail works much like a text-message folder in that it displays the caller's name or phone number and the time. What's even more fantastic, however, is that you can listen to the message instantly by pressing the individual message -- you don't have to call your voice mail first.
The iPhone's 2-megapixel camera offers a tasty interface with a graphic that resembles a camera shutter. You're offered no photo-editing options, which we didn't expect. That means you can't change the resolution, choose a colour or quality setting, or select a night mode. There's no flash either, and with no self-portrait mirror, those vanity shots are going to be tricky.
The camera performed well in our tests, however. Photo quality was excellent with rich, bright colours and distinct object outlines. White looked slightly too soft, but we approve overall. On the downside, you can't shoot your own video, which is disappointing on a phone of this price.
As we said earlier, the photo menu is attractive and easy to use, particularly due to the pinching motion. You can also flip between photos by swiping your finger across the display. When selecting a photo, you're given the option of assigning it to a contact, using it as wallpaper or emailing it to a friend.