The new Chocolate phone is a surprising shape – more Dairy Milk king size than Toffee Crisp thanks to its super-wide screen. That screen looks great, too: vivid, bright and colour-rich. And it comes with plenty of brains to match the beauty, with GPS, a 5-megapixel camera with flash and FM radio among the high points. It even recognises multi-touch commands so you can zoom in by pinching your fingers apart, like on the iPhone.
What we like
That strangely shaped 4-inch screen is a real winner, and gives a classy, eye-catching quality to the phone. It especially pays off in functions like the camera where a regular-shaped decent-sized photo image sits in the centre of the screen and touchscreen controls are on either side. The camera options are plentiful and easily accessible, so you can geo-tag a picture with a couple of taps, and it’s easy to turn image stabilisation or sepia effects on and off. Similarly, video playback is very impressive, even if traditional widescreen content looks stretched or has black bars at each end.
That funky-looking width is also important when it comes to messaging, for instance, where the screen splits into contacts on one side and messages on the other. The GPS is speedy and effective, and there are other related features, like a built-in FM transmitter so you can play the phone’s music through your car’s stereo.
What we don’t like
The touchscreen may look glorious but it’s not always as speedy or responsive as it could be, with a slight delay sometimes. Similarly the screen is so wide that when you view web pages in landscape format you only get a small amount of a page in view.
The menu screen responds to the accelerometer to display 32 icons in landscape mode. But these images are small, and lack labels, so it’s easy to be foxed by them. Portrait mode works better than landscape mode but it’s not as intuitive as it should be. LG’s S-Class interface, placing the home screens on a stretched cube floating in the distance, is a curious affair.
The 5-megapixel camera, as mentioned above, looks good and works well although the shutter lag that’s common on camera phones is unfortunately evident here, too.
Is the super-widescreen phone the future or a brave experiment? It’s not ideal for texting and the extra space goes unused in lots of applications, though it makes for a usefully big dialling pad. And that screen is eye-catchingly great. But the S-Class interface needs further refinement to really shine as bright as the display.