LG’s Crystal is a glam handset with show-off features to impress friends. It has two touch-sensitive interfaces: a touchscreen and then an innovative version of a keypad. Instead of buttons, the slide-out number pad is pancake-flat and is touch-sensitive.
What we like
This smooth, shiny handset feels very good in your hand, whether it’s open or shut, although it is a little chunky. The strange keypad also works for gesture shortcuts: draw a figure 8 with your finger on the touch-sensitive pad to launch contacts, for instance. It’s gimmicky but fun. Dialling using the same pad is straightforward not least thanks to the vibrating response as you touch each number. And that transparent keypad is a real eye-catcher.
When browsing the internet you can use the same pinch-to-zoom motion as the iPhone – both on the screen and the touchpad. An image of a cube, between the send and end call buttons, launches the 3D cube-effect menu system which looks neat and offers four customisable home screens. The camera is strong, and the LED flash, though not xenon, is bright and usable.
What we don’t like
The regular menu appears differently according to how you hold the phone. An integral accelerometer means when it’s held upright you see four rows of four icons, with four more ready to slide into view in each row. Tip it up and all 32 icons appear but are so small (and label-free) that they’re hard to recognise easily.
When using the keypad not to dial but as a mouse pointer, it’s pretty erratic and hard to control. You can control it by pressing your finger on the screen itself, as well, which is more accurate but the problem is it’s tough to see what you’re doing as your finger is in the way. There’s no GPS, which is a shame.
Texting isn’t perfect – the Qwerty keypad which appears when the phone is horizontal is a nice touch but a little cramped. This isn’t a music phone, but a 3.5mm headphone jack would have been a useful detail, though there’s an adaptor on the earphone cable so you can attach your favourite cans.
The GD900 Crystal has head-turning looks and that great transparent keypad. Not to mention good features like an 8-megapixel camera. But it is fiddly to use at times and the absence of GPS is a shame, especially since navigating using the touchpad would be cool.