With its brushed-metal lens cover to its chrome trim and rubber-painted casing, this is one fanciful prepay handset.
Despite it's prepay label, the LG KC550 boasts a five-megapixel camera and built-in accelerometers that automatically changes the photo into landscape or portrait depending which way you hold the handset. One notable omission is the lack of 3G.
The navigational pad feels good under the thumb while the interface is simple enough to find your way around.
The camera is capable of some decent shots, with a Schneider-Kreuznach lens and a flash for night time shots. The lack of 3G however means that uploading your pics to blogs and alike will take an age.
With talktime at 360 minutes and standby at 450 hours, the LG KC550's battery life is nothing more than modest.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:52:46 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
The KC550 is neat and great value, especially as it houses a five-megapixel camera.
The build quality is basic and it lacks 3G.
Why should you have to pay a premium just because you want to take decent photographs on your phone? Well, the manufacturers would point out that a five-megapixel sensor costs more than a two-megapixel one, and there are further costs involved in adding auto-focus instead of fixed-focus, not to mention advanced bells and whistles like image stabilisation.
However, LG's latest has all the photographic features mentioned above, but is priced to fit the less flush wallet. What's more, the styling, though not catwalk-slim, is attractive and eye-catching, from the brushed-metal lens cover that slides open smoothly to the chrome trim and rubber-painted casing. There's even the classy two-tone keypad similar to the Chocolate phone. When you touch it you can tell that the build quality, though absolutely acceptable, isn't up to that of the Secret, but then the Secret is more expensive.
Savings have been made in the omission of features like Wi-Fi or GPS found on smartphones and high-end handsets. These are not surprising, but a more serious problem is the fact that this phone is not 3G. So when you've shot your pictures, uploading them to flickr or other websites will take longer. And, of course, data transfers for web browsing will be slower and video calls are out of the question.
But maybe LG has hit on something important: although it's great to have 3G speeds, if you're going to use the phone instead of a digital camera, then uploading the images to the internet may not be a part of your plan. You may be happy to just transfer them to your computer when you get home. And LG has configured the KC550 so that it operates without a Sim card, so when you move on to another handset, you can still keep this phone as a passable digital camera.
In terms of photography, shutter lag - the time between pressing the trigger and the camera taking its shot - was minimal. It was perhaps not as good as on a mid-range dedicated compact, but it wasn't bad, and the time taken for the camera to be ready for the next shot is also reasonable. It's also a easy to switch from photo to video recording.This is a cost-effective way to buy a decent camera phone. In addition to the features mentioned already, there's a decent lens by Schneider-Kreuznach and a flash, although it's not Xenon, admittedly. The inclusion of an accelerometer means that the phone knows which way up you're holding it. So in playback it automatically changes the orientation of the shot.The LG Secret also featured an accelerometer, where it was used for some splendid motion-sensitive games under the umbrella name M-Toy, including fishing and darts. These games also feature on the KC550, and are great fun, though the hammer-throwing game takes a little getting used to. The homescreen uses the accelerometer, too, with an animation of water, which tips when the handset does.The device is easy to use, and the keypad is highly usable as well as good looking. The direction pad is efficient, with a separate central confirmation button and two soft keys under the screen.
The screen is a decent resolution and displays 262,144 colours, should you wish to count them. Not the 16 million colours of some, but good enough to make camera images look striking both in shooting and playback.
It is a neat handset with a lot going for it, especially the price. There are plenty of under-specced handsets on the market at cheap rates, but to have an affordable five-megapixel model available is a big step forward.