LG BL20 New Chocolate review: Bittersweet Noir
The feature phone UI goes in the right direction
It's been more than a year since we last reviewed a regular non-touch LG handset. And it feels the LG BL20 New Chocolate is the right handset to get us back on track.
The New Chocolate features the regular, but richly revamped LG user interface, which scores very high on visual appeal. The feature phone menu takes after the high-flying S-Class by LG and it looks like the two New Chocolates are similar not only on the outside, The BL20 is a pleasure to use, with its colorful and customizable menu. It's very fast and responsive too.
The standby screen offers the usual readings - date, time and all the status indicators - signal strength, the active profile and battery status. There's an option to add some extra items here - a calendar, various clocks. But don't expect miracles - you can use only one item at a time on the homescreen.
The menu structure of LG BL20 is straightforward and easy to work with even if you don't have much experience with other LG handsets. The main menu has two distinct layouts - grid or list view. Once you get beyond it though, all deeper submenus appear as lists.
There are two themes available on the BL20 New Chocolate and they are the same as those on the BL40 - the menu icons have a bit of 3D-styling with some visual effects, but you can also use the old black and white menu if you so prefer.
The touchpad directions are assigned shortcuts: New contact, new text message, profiles and the Quick menu. In the Quick menu you can have up to nine shortcuts to almost anything in your phone. It's handy and is activated by touching the up arrow.
The two soft-key functions are non-customizable - they're assigned to MyStuff and Contacts. The task manager button on the touchpad is nothing new either - it lets you easily switch between the currently running apps.
The Widget button will grant you access to some small but useful apps - memo, RSS reader, calendar, weather, alarms and VIP contacts. While the first five speak for themselves, the latter reminds of the contact homescreen in the S-Class UI. The VIP contacts are displayed in a scrollable arc of five contacts with their pictures. It's not as efficient as the quick dial, but looks good.
The phonebook does the job
The phonebook in the LG BL20 New Chocolate can store up to 1000 entries. You can opt to display the numbers on SIM, in phone memory or both simultaneously. You can order the contacts by first or last name. Naturally, searching by gradual typing is available. If a contact has a picture assigned, it will only be displayed when you select the contact in question.
There are plenty of available fields, so it's unlikely you will find anything missing. But in case you actually do, you may be better off buying a smartphone.
The LG BL20 New Chocolate offers smooth and problem-free performance when it comes to the most essential task of a phone - making calls. It offers good reception and in-call sound, with pleasing voice quality on both ends of a call. The New Chocolate has smart dial too.
We also put the BL20 to our traditional loudspeaker test. Here is how it ranks against some of the other handsets we've tested. You can find more information about the test itself and the whole list of tested devices here.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overall score|
|Apple iPhone 3G||66.1||62.1||71.7|
|LG BL20 New Chocolate||66.5||66.2||73.7||Average|
|Samsung S8300 UltraTOUCH||70.1||66.7||75.8||Good|
|LG KF700||72.8||71.7||79.2||Very Good|
|LG KF750 Secret||75.6||72.7||82.8||Excellent|
LG BL20 New Chocolate can handle all of the most common type of messages: SMS, EMS, MMS and email.
We aren't really the biggest fans of the handset's messaging department but we still believe it's capable enough for most occasions.
The first three message types share a common editor. All you need to do to switch between them is insert some multimedia content - like a photo or audio track for example. The editor itself has rather basic looks and that's one thing we weren't particularly fond of.
The email client is quite easy to work with and mailboxes can be set up in no time. Creating an account is very simple - you need to type your email and password, then choose the type (POP3, IMAP) and your mailbox is automatically configured.