Review by Sunetra Chakravati,
12/12/2011 3:54:21 PM
Excellent entertainment features in camera, video and editing suites; superb touch-screen; smooth user interface.
Patchy internet and email experience; lags in menu loading as memory is used up; lack of GPS prevents it from being a real ?high-end? device.
LG’s second Prada phone, the Prada KF900, is as smart as it is stylish, though a lack of GPS makes it a mid-range device with a high-end price tag
The second Prada handset from electronics giant LG is more than just a pretty face, with some serious power packed into its sleek, shiny casing.
Boasting a three-inch touch-screen with 240x400 pixels, the LG KF900 Prada also features a snazzy slide-out QWERTY keyboard, five-megapixel camera with auto-focus and video calling, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and dual-band HSDPA connectivity. The entertainment suite is excellent as well, with not just image and video recording, but comprehensive editing apps too.
GPS is about the only missing feature, leaving it just short of the major leagues, where phones like Nokia’s Nseries and the HTC Touch range can be found.
The KF900 is an advancement on the last Prada-LG collaboration – the KE850 was a touch-screen with a less user-friendly interface, no Wi-Fi or 3G connectivity, and frequent lags in its operating system. LG has improved on all these issues, without losing any of the aesthetic touches that made its predecessor top of the fashion phone stakes.
Smooth User Interface
The intuitive user interface (UI) was the first thing that struck us about the LG Prada KF900. The proprietary UI looks complicated because the navigation menus are tabbed in grid form – four tabs, comprising communication, entertainment, utilities and settings, are home to eight icons each – but all handily labelled so it’s easy to work out.
There is a choice of three home screens – wallpaper, which can be any image on the phone, a customisable shortcut screen that can hold up to nine shortcuts, and a third window to which you can add memo, calendar, appointment and world clock widgets.
What’s more, you can easily move between these three screens by swiping across the screen to ‘rotate’ to the next one. It’s slick, simple and very iPhone-esque.
We were really impressed with the touch-screen as well, which responded perfectly to our commands, and vibrates gently for satisfying haptic feedback. Though not multi-touch, the screen does recognise different pressures. For example, swiping actions scroll the screen, pressing down unlocks the phone, and simple light touches select icons.
An accelerometer means the phone can load screens (including the browser) in both portrait and landscape orientations, and it
automatically switches to landscape when the QWERTY keyboard slides out.
Unfortunately, an otherwise streamlined user experience is marred by slow load times when the phone’s pitiful 60MB of on-board memory is taken up with text messages, pictures and other shrapnel of phone usage. This was especially noticeable in the message menus.
However, one nice touch is that you can choose to view messages in ‘threaded’ form, where all messages from a contact are saved together
with your replies. Yes, just like the iPhone.
Flawed internet experience
The Prada’s three-inch display is clear and crisp, and while it has dual-band HSDPA support, browsing isn’t as fast as you would imagine. The full HTML browser should allow it to access any page on the web,
but our review model had trouble with sites that weren’t mobile optimised, particularly when it came to processing embedded links.
However, we had no trouble with popular sites that did have mobile versions, such as Facebook, Hotmail, and certain blogs. The KF900 had no problem loading images at all, and even image-rich sites loaded within five seconds. The touch-screen worked perfectly as a trackpad substitute; scrolling up, down and sideways was a breeze.
The browser’s address bar disappears when not in use, so to retrieve, you need to tap the top or bottom edges of the screen. But the touch-screen proved over-sensitive here, causing us to call up the address bar unintentionally.
Email setup is straightforward, with a wizard that prompts you through the process – we easily added a Gmail account as well as our work account. The QWERTY keyboard is intelligently designed to include the most used characters, relegating the rest to secondary menus.
But the email function is nowhere near as well integrated as on dedicated handsets like the BlackBerry line. Our main quibble was with the menu load times – it took at least 10 seconds to load the inbox, and another 10 seconds to open an email. This is a pity, because with apps like the document viewer and the ability to email attachments, this wouldn’t be a bad business phone.
Camera, music and action
One of the best features of this phone is its camera and video. The camera boasts five megapixels, a flash, auto-focus and a video-calling function, as well as a comprehensive editing suite that includes filters, cropping, and cutesy adjustments like adding text, speech bubbles and butterfly stamps to your images.
Pictures taken in daylight came out with incredible clarity, at a high enough resolution for printing, but unfortunately it wasn’t great in low light.
A cool addition is the so-called Muvee Studio, which creates a slide show of up to 15 images, complete with fades and soundtrack (there is a pre-loaded list of tracks that can also be added).
Once you’ve taken a picture, a toolbar pops up with options to send the image via MMS, email, or Bluetooth, or set it as wallpaper, which is intuitive and intelligently designed.
The same goes for video, which records at a DVD-quality 30fps, and at a resolution of 720x480 pixels. All video and photos are stored in the Gallery, where a series of iPhone-like swipes scrolls through them all.
We can’t get past the lack of GPS though. It’s now almost standard for phones to come with a great camera, music player and entertainment options, and with so many companies focusing on location-based services, a phone without sat nav capability in 2009 sits well and truly within the mid-range category. Even if it does look sexy.
The LG Prada KF900 is a great entertainment phone, and we’d pick it up for the excellent camera and video alone. As a smartphone, the internet and email experience is a bit too patchy to really stand up to feature-full devices like the Nokia N96, HTC Touch Pro or indeed, the iPhone, whose footsteps it has followed in design and UI. The lack of GPS is also a definite drawback, especially considering the hefty price tag.
But we’re won over by its smooth-running software and excellent hardware. The phone looks and feels great, its QWERTY is intelligently designed for optimal typing and navigation is streamlined and intuitive.
This handset definitely ticks enough boxes to be far more than another designer-branded fashion phone, and puts LG with the pack leaders in