The screen of a touch-operated phone today is the viewport to a lot more than just a phone – the touchable interface for one, but also photos, videos and the whole Internet. And the display on the LG GD880 Mini is one of the finest we’ve seen.
The 16:9 aspect ratio is quickly pushing out 4:3 in TVs, computer screens and phones. Widescreen multimedia content is steadily catching up and with the GD880 Mini media is a big part of how the phone’s used.
Image quality is is quite nice. Blacks are not as good as AMOLED but are great for a TFT unit. Sunlight legibility is not on an iPhone level, but it’s pretty close (easily the best among LG touch phones) and the touchscreen registers even the lightest taps. The high-resolution screen renders a crisp, vivid picture that bests a lot of its competitors. The scratch-resistant glass of the screen as seen on the LG GB40 New Chocolate makes an appearance hear as well.
Watching videos and browsing photos is a treat and text remains legible at very low zoom levels, which is great for web browsing of full-featured web sites.
The S-Class UI has already earned its place among feature phone user interfaces today. Since the first S-Class device – the LG KM900 Arena – the BL40 New Chocolate was the only one to bring some changes in both functionality and looks. LG GD880 Mini continues with the improvements with even bolder decisions.
Remember the Cube interface – the homescreen base in all previous S-Class handsets? It’s now gone – the four homescreens are now replaced by one extended desktop that nods at Android. It’s three times the size of the display (side-scrollable), giving you enough room to organize all the items you want to put up front. And there are plenty of things that can go up there. The screen shows you one third of the actual homescreen and you can sweep left or right to get to the other panes.
You can add different items on the homescreen with the dedicated virtual key in the bottom right corner of the display. In edit mode you can also shake the phone to auto align all the stuff on the homescreen.
If you’re about to add a new item you will first have to choose between widget, bookmark or shortcut. The widgets are similar to what we’ve already seen in previous S-Class handsets, some of them with small visual changes.
Besides widgets, you can also put bookmarks or shortcuts to almost anything in your phone. They look exactly like the iPhone’s icons and work in a similar way.
A shortcut to the Task manager is always available in the bottom left corner of the screen, except on the homescreen where it is replaced by the green receiver key. This time around, the task manager is more user-friendly and resembles Symbian by popping up at the bottom to show the running apps. You can terminate or switch between the currently running apps.
In the bottom right corner of the screen you will always find a red receiver button. In addition to its main purpose, it will also terminate any app you are currently using and take you back to the homescreen.
LG have got it right again and the S-class interface is as visually impressive as before, and perhaps more mature. Everything from homescreen to dropdown menus roll, sweep in, unfold and rotate extra smoothly with a responsiveness that suggests some powerful graphics acceleration.
The lockscreen is the "Press & Hold to Unlock" kind, which is the same as in the LG Arena, Viewty Smart and the Crystal. In addition, the Mini has gesture lock too. You can assign up to 9 shortcuts to different phone features – contacts, call log, alarms, music, etc.
Tapping the Status bar at the top of the screen launches a semitransparent menu that can be used to toggle Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on and off, change profiles and view recent events.
The main menu is accessible via the dedicated shortcut on the home screen. It has the usual layout of four rows of menu items, which are scrollable horizontally. That way, almost all menu items are accessible simultaneously without jumping tabs, as in older LG handsets.
Unfortunately, the accelerometer doesn’t kick in to automatically rotate the main menu as it did in previous S-Class phones, and even the LG Pop. This might get fixed in the retail unit though, or it was simply disabled because of the uneven number of items on every row.
Update, March 29: We have three new screenshots for you – as you can see, the latest iteration of the S-Class interface for the LG GD880 Mini is shaping up great. We haven’t had the chance to test them yet, this will have to wait for the review.