A new LG phone has hit the streets. The possible suspect is described as black, slim, sexy and most of all fashionable. Well then, we might just have some information on that suspect, Mr. Officer. The LG Chocolate phone is a gorgeous mobile phone offering a red-glowing navigation touchpad, 128MB of internal memory, 1.3 megapixel camera and MP3 player, tri-band GSM and GPRS support - all that incorporated into a slim slider shell.
The phone features an innovative touchpad which is used for menu navigation and it's a wonderful piece of design which really adds to the classy overall feel of the handset.
Otherwise, as regards the technical side of the device, there aren't any posh features that would stun the regular tech buffs. The phone is mainly targeted at a market niche of expensive designer phones which have the main purpose of distinguishing their owners from the general crowd. And as such it should be viewed in its own right taking into account its marketing specifics. So if you are one of the people out there hoping that LG KG800 might turn out as the next Walkman competitor or the next beat-'em-all camera phone, we only have 2 words for you: Keep waiting!
Anyways, we really liked this phone, and as a matter of fact, all the people around us liked it even better, so there's a trick or two that this party slider hides in its sleeves. Talking about sleeves, let's roll up ours and get down to work in order to show you what this baby can offer.
The phone we had was a test sample so we should warn you that there might be some differences to the final version, though this software version behaved perfectly alright and we didn't stumble upon any obvious bugs.
As for the stylish retail package, the box should include a stereo headset, a pouch, a neck strap, a MP3 remote control with a 3.5 mm jack, a USB cable, a travel charger and a software CD containing the proprietary LG PC Suite software but as we have always said - the contents of the retail package are market and country dependant.
The front part of the phone shell has a mirror-like finish that really makes it look classy. When closed, the slider has a rather monolith construction so there were a few people that tried opening it as a flip phone instead of a slider. That's really something since mobile phones nowadays are invading every part of our lives so to be able to produce something innovative really counts.
When we saw the handset for the first time, sliding out of its LG branded black velvet pouch, we were amazed at how thin it looked. We could hardly believe that it was over 15 mm thick so we had to measure it ourselves. Well, it really is just over 15 mm thick but you could never really tell by just by looking at it - it looks a lot thinner.
In fact one of the first impressions we had were that the phone hidden in its pouch resembles in a great way a stylish and highly expensive cigar lighter that a real connoisseur always has within their reach.
We would expect this phone to be a more of a women's accessory than a men's toy but it turned out that the unisex design and the slim and fashionable body fit and appeal equally both to men and women.
When closed, in fact you could only really see a black shiny surface and a silver rectangle that surrounds the central OK button on the touchpad - the display and the red touchpad lay hidden beneath the shiny surface. When you slide up the upper part, the touchpad and the display light up waiting for your commands. The sight of the red glowing touchpad could easily grab any person's heart.
The newly revealed numeric part of the keypad is crafted in a great way and is really easy to use. The numeric keypad incorporates an interesting design solution since some of the keys are made out of matt plastic and others out of glossy plastic. The different keys are then spread in a checkerboard way across the whole keypad and that makes it very attractive. In fact this checker-board styled keypad and the keys shape resemble a lot like pieces of a chocolate bar. That's one of the reasons for calling the phone The Chocolate.
The real place where this beauty gets its name is from the fact that in the Korean market where this baby was pioneered, it has a scent of chocolate. Yes, you heard us right - the phone smells of chocolate. But enough of that, let's get back to our review.
The left side of the handset incorporates only a volume swing key. The right side has more to show. There we see a camera/mp3 player shortcut key and the ON/OFF key. The ON/OFF key in fact serves several roles among which ending or rejecting a call. The camera/mp3 player shortcut button is an unusual solution since we hardly see a combined shortcut key for both applications - pressing the key shortly opens the multimedia menu, while a long press takes you directly to the MP3 player. The left side of the thin panel also accommodates the multi-purpose USB/earphones/charger port which is hidden under a protective cap.
The handset comes with a MP3 cable remote that plugs in the phone multi-purpose port and that has FFD, REW, PLAY/PAUSE, ANSWER/HANG UP and STOP buttons. The remote itself has a standard 3.5 mm audio jack used for the LG earpieces that come in the box as well as any other headphones of your choice. We would have admired the fact that the manufacturer allows you to use high-quality headphones if you want to if it wasn't for the mediocre capabilities of the MP3 player itself. Anyways, the earpieces are not much better - the sound lacks bass elements and the minimal volume level is much too loud.
The back part has a clean design and accommodates only external antenna jack cap and the battery cover. When the phone is opened you could see the camera lens and the LED flash. The battery cover is situated in the lower back part and is part of the 800 mAh Lithium-Ion Polymer battery itself. According to the manufacturer the battery should offer up to 200h of standby time and up to 6h of talk time. Of course those numbers are strictly indicative. Unfortunately, we couldn't test the Chocolate battery life since we used the phone heavily during our tests and thus the battery life we experienced was not indicative for the real-life performance of the phone.
The battery cover is hard to disengage in fact. It opens with a slide after you press the release button. But you should press the button strong enough until it sinks in. The matter is furthermore complicated by the fact that when you try to slide the battery cover out you really slide out the phone itself first. The SIM card is easy to get in and out of its bed.
The slider mechanism opens with an ease but it won't open incidentally by itself in your pockets or bag since the retaining/opening spring is stiff enough to prevent that. In fact the opening of the phone feels very pleasant and its smooth surface definitely adds up to that feeling.
Being all glossy, the outer surface catches fingerprints exceptionally easy. The good news is that the LG-branded pouch that come in the retail package along with the phone really helps in keeping it clean since the material it's made of is the perfect cloth to clean the phone's surface.
The touchpad buttons surely take some time to get used to. Most of the people that happened to hold the phone for a couple of minutes usually managed to dial some number by mistake or to load the web browser home page. We got to admit that it's confusing in the beginning but the great looks of the touch pad surely deserve the extra effort.
The interesting thing is that the touchpad uses conductivity in order to operate, so basically you activate the button with the electrolyte on you fingers skin. The manufacturer advises not to touch the touch pad with metallic objects and never to use it with wet fingers and even wipe moisture from the touch pad if there is some because otherwise it might damage the sensors. We unsuccessfully tried pressing the touch pad with a pencil so we might conclude that it isn't likely that you could press some keys incidentally in your pocket. What is more the touch pad is automatically deactivated when the slider is closed. It's also deactivated when you dial a number since otherwise you might press who-knows-what with your cheek.
Once you get used to navigating with touching instead of pressing, the menu navigation works like a charm and the menu response is very quick - in fact this menu system has one of the greatest response times we have seen.
The numeric keypad is exceptionally good though with decent sized and well spaced keys that are very easy to distinguish even without looking at them.
The backlighting is pretty good. We want to point out that when you turn on the Power Saving feature of the phone the backlighting of the numeric keypad also gets constantly turned off. Otherwise when you don't use the phone all lights go out and in order to check for missed calls, received messages or simply for what time it is you should open the slider.
When the key lock is turned on closing the slider locks the availability of user input unless you open it up back again. If you decide to leave the key lock off, which we did, the touch pad is again deactivated when you close the slider but you can activate it back again and even browse the menu while it is closed by simply pressing twice the side volume key.