SlovoEd is part of the Paragon Software Group, and has spent 15 years specialising in foreign translation dictionaries for PDAs, Windows PCs and smartphones. Now those dictionaries have been ported to the greatest smartphone of all, the Apple iPhone.

There may be some variability in the breadth and depth of translation between SlovoEd's different language editions, as the database of words that the dictionaries use are supplied by different sources, such as Oxford University Press, Merriam-Webster, VOX (Spanish) and PONS (German).

We tried the SlovoEd Deluxe English-Russian & Russian-English Dictionary for iPhone, which deserves to be one of the better examples of the breed, if only because Paragon/SlovoEd is itself a Russian company, based in Moscow.

The app is a relatively hefty download at over 32MB, and is sold at a premium price (by iPhone app standards anyway) of £14.99. The size of the download reflects the inclusion of audio sound samples - more of which later.

After installing on your iPhone, you'll need to activate the Russian Cyrillic keyboard through Settings/General/International/Keyboards. Then, when you fire up the app you'll see an international globe symbol on the iPhone's touchscreen keyboard, to the immediate left of the spacebar. Using this button you can quickly alternate between English and Russian keyboard layouts.

To translate a word between languages is truly simple. With the keyboard set to English Qwerty, just start typing out an English word, and approximations will start to appear in a vertical list. You can elect to tap out every letter; or once your word is in view from a list, just tap it once to be taken directly to that word's entry page.

And if you wish to look up a Russian word for translation into English, you tap on the international globe symbol to switch to Cyrillic alphabet keyboard, and start tapping out a word in the same way. Alternatively, since version 2.0, you can reverse translation directions with a circular arrow ‘switch' button added in the app's top right corner - although you'll still need to manually reset keyboard language for input.

A History button in the botton of the app's screen provides quick - and highly useful - shortcuts for words previously looked up.