The LG Arena has 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. While not expanded, every field has a picture icon, a name and a green call button for quick voice dial. Accessing the full info on a contact is made by tapping on it and its summary is expanded in a dropdown window directly between the other contacts. 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 KM900 Arena, the phonebook is highly touch-optimized too. Scrolling is as smooth as possible with no lag and this is the only phone currently on the market with the same fluid response as 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 places you'll also find the "New contact" buttons. The available 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 edit the order type with tap-and-hold on the contact homescreen.
A strange decision is the required photo resolution - 480x480. There is no application on the phone which requires a picture of this size, but a smaller size is still not acceptable.
The LG Arena handles phone calls flawlessly, as you have every right to expect. The phone dialer works with an on-screen numeric keypad - the QWERTY one is naturally not available.
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 some suggestions immediately. They'll be organized in a dropdown window in the same way as the contact's summary.
Call history is accessed by the green hardware button below the screen and it reminds us of the phonebook with its dropdown effects. But of course, the information you get here is the call's duration, time and type.
The LG KM900 Arena scored a Good mark in our loudspeaker performance test.
Here is how the Arena stacks up against some other handsets we've tested. More info on our test can be found here.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overall score|
|Apple iPhone 3G||66.1||62.1||71.7|
|LG KC910 Renoir||71.9||65.6||72.0||Good|
|Nokia 5800 XpressMusic||75.7||66.5||68.5||Good|
|LG KM900 Arena||70.9||68.2||78.3||Good|
|Samsung M8800 Pixon||75.7||69.6||82.1||Very Good|
|Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1||75.5||66.6||82.7||Very Good|
|HTC Touch HD||77.7||73.7||76.7||Excellent|
|LG KF900 Prada||77.1||75.7||82.0||Excellent|
There are only two options in the main menu - Messaging and Email. The LG Arena supports sending and receiving SMS, MMS, and email messages. Much like the Renoir and Viewty, SMS and MMS share the same editor.
The messages are easily 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, 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 multi-tap alphanumeric keyboard, or you can rotate the Arena and go for the landscape QWERTY one. 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 QWERTY.
When it comes to emails, set up on the LG Arena is as hassle-free as its predecessors. 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 too.
Maximum attachment size for both outgoing and incoming mail is 1MB. This is not quite enough for a 5 megapixel photo, a shame really given that this is the maximum image size on the phone's camera. A 3.2 MP snap or a small video will do the job, while attachments such as documents or presentations should not be a problem. The LG Renoir for example had a 2MB limit, which is still restricting, but more adequate.
Quite naturally, archive files such as ZIP or RAR are not among the supported file types for attachments, but still you can 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".