LG GD900 Crystal review: Crystal clear
Phonebook with no changes
The Crystal, just like the LG Arena and the Viewty Smart sports one of the most attractive and best touch-optimized phonebooks we've seen so far on a mobile phone.
The Contact list has tiny separators with the corresponding alphabetical letter. If not expanded, every field has a picture icon, a name and a green call button for quick dial. To display the full contact details you simply tap on it and its contents expand in a dropdown right between the neighboring phonebook names. There you can also find the different buttons for calls, messages and editing organized in a scrollable row.
Like most of the interface on the GD900 Crystal, the phonebook is highly touch-optimized too. Scrolling is as smooth as possible with no lags and this is the only UI currently on the market to match the fluid response of the iPhone. There is a scroll bar on the right side to allow movement through the phonebook.
Of course there is a search option and it's available at the top of your contact list. The other way to access it is by the dedicated options button in the upper left corner. In the same two locations you'll also find the "New contact" buttons.
The available contact fields are pretty standard and offer whatever you can think up.
Finally, you can put a shortcut on the photo contact homescreen by selecting the small star button next to a contact. This contact then automatically appears in the appropriate place and you can reorder via tap-and-hold on the contact homescreen.
You'll hear us compare (and quite favorably too) the S-Class UI with the iPhone but the Crystal (and all the current S-Class devices for that matter) lacks kinetic scrolling, which would've made the great phonebook just perfect.
The LG Crystal handles phone calls flawlessly, as you have every right to expect. The phone dialer works with an on-screen numeric keypad.
As with any LG handset - the green receiver key takes you to the list of all calls. You can access them from the main menu too, but unlike the previous LG handsets, you won't find call time counters and the web data counter here. Instead, those are moved to the Call settings menu.
Smart dial is also onboard. As usual, you can type any numbers and you'll receive suggestions immediately. They'll be organized in a dropdown window, same as a contact's details.
Call history is accessed by the green hardware button below the screen and it also follows the phonebook with its dropdown layout. The readings you get there are the usual call duration, time and type of call.
The LG GD900 Crystal scored just good in our loudspeaker performance test. Here is how it stacks up against some of the other handsets we've put through it. More info on our test is available here.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overall score|
|Apple iPhone 3G||66.1||62.1||71.7|
|Nokia 5800 XpressMusic||75.7||66.5||68.5||Good|
|LG GD900 Crystal||73.2||71.6||73.5||Good|
|LG KM900 Arena||70.9||68.2||78.3||Good|
|LG GC900 Viewty Smart||75.7||69.5||76.7||Very Good|
|Samsung M8800 Pixon||75.7||69.6||82.1||Very Good|
|LG KF900 Prada||77.1||75.7||82.0||Excellent|
Messaging as it should be
There are only two major sections in the main menu - Messaging and Email. The LG Crystal supports sending and receiving SMS, MMS, and email messages. Much like the Arena, Renoir and Viewty2, SMS and MMS share the same editor.
The messages are neatly organized in a standard list view and sorted by date. You can choose a filter - SMS, MMS or notifications. Naturally, the Inbox is the default location when you enter the Messaging menu, but you can change it to Outbox, Sent, Drafts or My Folders. There is also an option for a threaded view.
For typing you can use either the number pad, or you can flip the Crystal on its side and go for the landscape QWERTY keyboard. There is touch feedback either way, and typing is very accurate even if the QWERTY keyboard buttons are a bit small. Either way, thanks to the capacitive screen both produce no lag and are as responsive as the iPhone's virtual QWERTY.
Moving your cursor through the text is also a breeze. You can either tap the place on the screen where you want your cursor or, if you need more precision, a longer press over the cursor activates a virtual loupe that allows you to move it around more accurately character by character (think iPhone style). Copying and pasting is always available.
But hey, don't forget the nicely illuminated see-through keypad. When you slide it while typing, the onscreen keyboard disappears and you're free to use the hardware one.
The first time is quite unusual because it's like typing with the virtual numeric keypad, but it's not virtual at all. And of course, the blue lights surrounding the whole thing are a feast both for your eyes and those around you.
There is also handwriting recognition which is very capable, but really too slow for effective text input. It works fine on both screen and keyboard and is definitely a new thing among phones with capacitive screens. However, It's unlikely to be the first choice of a messaging addict.
When it comes to emails, set up on the LG Crystal is hassle-free. Adding an email account is a breeze thanks to the clever setup scheme. For a Gmail account for example, all we had to do was fill in the account and password fields - the connection settings were retrieved automatically.
In case you have to setup your email account manually, there is a host of settings that you need to enter. Both POP3 and IMAP4 protocols are supported and you can set the handset to auto retrieve new mail at a preset interval with a dedicated setting for roaming. The email client supports SSL encryption too.
Maximum attachment size for both outgoing and incoming mail is 1MB, as it was on the LG Arena. This is not enough for a 8 megapixel photo, which is a shame really given the camera the device has. A 3.2 MP snap or a small video should be no problem, while attachments such as documents or presentations will easily fall under that limitation.
The LG Renoir for example had a 2MB limit, which is still restricting but a bit more respectable. If you decide to attach a picture in the Crystal's email client it won't even resize automatically. The only way for the phone to do it for you is choosing the "Attach - Take a picture" button in the email client.
There's an image editor, which can also do the job of resizing a picture.
Quite naturally, archive files such as ZIP or RAR are not among the supported file types for attachments, but you can still save those to the phone memory when you receive them. MS Office and PDF files can be opened and viewed directly inside the email client.
Once you've downloaded your messages, you can use the search feature to find specific emails or you can sort them by various filters such as date, sender, priority, read/unread, subject, size, etc. There is also an option for setting multiple emails as "Read".