CLICK HERE to view our Nifty Tricks with the LG Crystal GD900
The world’s first transparent phone has an innovative look. It is made predominantly from plastic rather than any precious stone, but it feels robust and looks damn good, too.
The ‘see thru’ keypad not only has a brilliant novelty factor but also enhances the overall usability of the phone, particularly when the camera app is activated.
The LG Crystal competes well against other high spec phones. Although the eight-megapixel camera is not as good as those found on other LG models, but internet is speedy and it has a number of small gimmicky features, including Gesture shortcuts (see review).
The handset delivers a top-notch internet performance and the keypad and touch-screen worked flawlessly.
Battery life was average.
The LG Crystal breaks the mould with the world’s first transparent keypad. Not only does it offer a great novelty factor but it also improves the overall usability of the phone. If you’re after a high-end handset with a unique look, then this is an excellent choice.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:55:20 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Not only is the ?see thru? keypad a real novelty, it also works expertly in tandem with web browsing and adjusting the camera.
Despite its eight-megapixel status, the Crystal is not the best camera phone LG has produced.
We love innovation, particularly when it comes to design. Which is why we were excited to get our hands on the LG Crystal GD900, the world’s first transparent mobile phone. It’s not completely transparent, but its slide-out keypad is for all intent and purposes ‘see thru’, and we’ll admit it; it’s pretty cool.
First things first, it’s important to clarify that the phone is not actually made from crystal. We assume the name is in reference to the aforementioned transparent keypad, which is actually made from plastic rather than glass or any precious stone. Indeed, the phone is made predominantly from plastic with a metal trim that gives the LG Crystal GD900 a robust feel. As well as having a slide-out keypad, the device also houses a full three-inch touch-screen that can be used as the sole means of controlling your handset, if you so please.
Not only is the keypad ‘see thru’ – the novelty of being able to see our hand behind the keypad still hadn’t worn off after three days – it’s also effectively another touch-screen. Completely flat, its edges light up when slid open, as do the numeric keys, giving it a retro look. There is no differentiation between each numeric key, but they are spaced out enough to easily avoid accidental key presses, though a degree of care may be needed if you’re a rapid texter. The keypad also gives a great haptic (vibrating) response to each key press or finger stroke. In fact, we’d actually say that the keypad is too responsive. We found we often brushed one of the keys as we slid the keypad open, which the phone interpreted as starting to dial a phone number. This can be annoying as you will need to exit the dialling mode to return to your intended destination.
The LG Crystal GD900 uses the same S-Class interface as seen on the LG Arena. While we were big fans of the Arena’s interface in terms of presentation, we did feel that it was a tad on the slow side. Thankfully, LG headquarters must have tweaked the S-Class interface as the Crystal seems faster and slicker than its predecessor. There is still a slight delay from pressing an icon to that feature firing up, but LG is definitely on the right track.
The LG Crystal has four home screens that allow you to manage all your content with ease. A simple finger swipe will switch between the ‘contacts’, ‘multimedia’, ‘shortcuts’ and ‘widgets’ pages. All of these screens are customisable, so you could choose your favourite people and display them on your contacts page for fast and easy access, for example. Beneath the screen is also a call and call end key, which both engulf a cube like icon. Press this key for a moment and all four home screens will be transformed into a 3D cube. The same navigation principle applies – swipe your finger in either direction to switch screens – so there is no real advantage other than it looks pretty slick.
Packing a host of high-end features, the LG Crystal holds its own among even the highest specced handsets, albeit with one glaring omission. There is no on-board GPS, which is becoming increasingly de rigeur for high-end handsets. However, for now let’s focus on what the Crystal does have.
Sliding the keyboard out will reveal an eight-megapixel camera on the back of the handset alongside an LED flash. The keypad needs to be slid out for camera mode, making the handset quite long, but it does serve a purpose. To zoom in and out of a shot simply move your finger in a circular motion on the keypad, et voilà. Likewise, select the exposure settings on the bottom left of the screen and follow the same procedure. It works flawlessly and, while the volume keys (which provide the same function) are probably more ideally placed, there’s no denying the innovative appeal of this feature.
The other snapper setting can be altered via a virtual turn wheel found on the screen. There is face tracking that puts your subject’s face more into focus, but there’s no smile recognition or blink detection that we’ve seen on other handsets, including the LG Renoir. While the photos we took appeared a tad cloudy, the LG Crystal is awarded brownie points for the excellent video recorder that allows you to record in both slow and fast motion. You can only fire up your camera via the dedicated key when the phone is idle in one of the home screens, which is disappointing.
Wi-Fi is present, as is HSDPA with speeds of up to 7.2Mbps, depending on your network and location. When surfing the net, the keypad once again comes into its element by acting as an optical mouse. Trace your finger over the keypad and the on-screen mouse pointer will glide accordingly. LG claims it’s a good way of preventing those grubby fingerprints found on touch-screens, but we feel the real benefit is being able to target hyperlinks and alike. What’s more, pinch and drag the keypad – much in the same way as the iPhone – and you will zoom in and out of the webpage. It works well, though maybe not quite on the level of Apple’s creation.
We were particularly impressed with the Crystal’s ability to have multiple windows open at any one time. We opened five and the speed of the phone remained unaffected, though this will depend on how much content is on each webpage that you have open. YouTube clips in full screen did appear slightly pixelated and grainy; however, when played in the smaller screen mode, the content flowed.
As mentioned, the LG Crystal can be operated solely by the touch-screen. A nice addition is that when you turn the phone horizontally when a text box is on display, a full virtual QWERTY keyboard will automatically pop up on screen. It makes the most of the entire three-inch display, meaning the keys are big enough for an easy typing experience. There’s also handwriting recognition, though as the screen is capacitive you’ll be unable to use any sort of stylus, instead relying on the tip of your finger, which can prove slightly hit or miss.
Innovation is a huge part of the LG Crystal, both in terms of design and functionality, and one of our favourite gimmicky features is the Gesture shortcut. Hold the cube key down for around two seconds and you’ll be taken to a screen with nine icons representing key features on the phone. You can assign a variety of symbols for each of these icons such as an ‘M’ or ‘8’. Now comes the clever part. Sketch this symbol on the touchpad when the phone is idle and you’ll be magically whisked to that feature. Of course, you’ll have to remember what each symbol represents, but it shouts novelty value.
LG has an ongoing partnership with Dolby Mobile for all its high-end handsets and the LG Crystal GD900 is no exception. There’s also 1.5GB of on-board memory and the handset can support microSD cards of up to 16GB, giving you plenty of storage space for all your music and media content, though you’ll have to buy this separately. There’s no 3.5mm headset port but the device is Stereo Bluetooth compatible, allowing you to pair your headphones wirelessly.
We’re sure the LG Crystal GD900 will be a success. The transparent ‘see thru’ keypad has a real novelty factor, and yet still enhances the overall usability of the phone. LG has also managed to cram in a host of features even if some of them, most notably the camera, aren’t the best we’ve seen on previous LG models. It’s handsets like the Crystal that keep the mobile industry from going stale. LG, we salute you.