Apple has given iPhone handsets to a few, specially selected, prominent American IT journalists to review.

David Pogue of the New York Times is one such VIP, and has published his initial impressions of the phone in an article entitled "The iPhone Matches Most of Its Hype" which gives you a flavour of his thoughts.

Pogue praises the glass screen saying it gets "smudgy" but it doesn’t scratch easily.

According to Pogue, email is "fantastic", the full-fat Safari web browser is "the real dazzler". Overall, he says the device is "fast, beautiful, menu-free, and dead simple to operate".

The bad? Call quality is only "average", and:

"There’s no memory-card slot, no chat program, no voice dialing. You can’t install new programs from anyone but Apple; other companies can create only iPhone-tailored mini-programs on the Web. The browser can’t handle Java or Flash, which deprives you of millions of Web videos … [The camera] can’t capture video. And you can’t send picture messages to other cellphones."

Pogue is not impressed with the keypad-free design, although he says he did get used to it after a while, he states "text entry is not the iPhone’s strong suit. The BlackBerry won’t be going away anytime soon".

Making us hope even more for a European 3G-enabled version is his verdict of the connectivity of the iPhone: "When you’re in a Wi-Fi hot spot, going online is fast and satisfying. But otherwise, you have to use AT&T’s ancient EDGE cellular network, which is excruciatingly slow".

The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg is another luminary graced with a Jesus Phone, he calls the iPhone
"beautiful".

So what does Old Walt think of the browser? "The best". Screen? "Gorgeous". Interface? "Fun".

Mossberg points out some negatives – you can't copy and paste text, no A2DP support, you can’t change the ringtone, you can’t edit or save Word, Excel or PDF docs emailed to you.

Mossberg concludes his preview slash review of the phone with:

"Our verdict is that, despite some flaws and feature omissions, the iPhone is, on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer."