LG KU990 Viewty review: Eyes wide open

GSMArena team, 25 September 2007.
Pages: 12345

Tags: LG, Touch UI, Viewty

The LG KU990 Viewty is a true powerhouse packing a mass of high-tech goodies under its hood: the impressive 3" touchscreen display with 240 x 400 pixels resolution, the HSDPA 3.6 Mbps capability, the stereo Bluetooth and the highly intriguing 5 megapixel camera with autofocus, which is also capable of capturing video at 120 fps. Feature-packed and exquisite, the LG KU990 looks set on the fast track to success and we were more than happy to get our hands on it.

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LG KU990 Viewty official photos

Key features

  • Tri-band GSM/GPRS plus HSDPA support
  • 5 megapixel autofocus camera with image stabilization
  • Camera strobe flash and focus assist beam
  • Secondary video camera for video calls
  • 3" 262K color TFT touchscreen display with 240x400 pixels resolution
  • VGA video recording at 30 fps
  • QVGA video recording at 120 fps
  • TV-out support
  • Original stylus dongle
  • DivX video playback
  • Haptic feedback when the screen is pressed

Main disadvantages

  • No hot-swap memory card capability
  • Having stylus as a dongle is an inconvenient solution
  • File management slows once the memory card starts filling up
  • Operating the zooming jog wheel gets in the way of the lens

The LG KU990 Viewty was only recently announced but it somehow fails to cause the same stir in the mobile community as the 5-megapixel Sony Ericsson K850 or the Samsung G600. Yet, as we managed to find out, it's a highly sophisticated device, that's quick to impress and certainly deserves attention.

The KU990 Viewty is not the first 5 megapixel cameraphone by LG. There are a number of reasons why their first attempt - the LG KG920 failed to gain noteworthy market share - the high price, the controversial swiveling design, and the slow camera interface, just to mention a few.

Back to our game

The LG KU990 Viewty measures 103.5 x 54.4 x 14.8 mm, which makes it about the size of iPhone, Sony Ericsson P1 or even HTC Touch. It weighs 112 g, which is not really much considering its performance characteristics. Designwise, it's almost certain that people would inevitably compare it to the Prada phone by LG. They share the same form factor, large screen and Flash UI, but are still totally different and this time Prada has no involvement in the project.

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LG KU990 Viewty all over

The front panel of the handset features only three hardware keys - the green and red Send/End keys and the correction C key, which is used as either backspace or for going one level up in the interface menu. In the top right corner, the secondary VGA camera for video calls can be found. The left side of the Viewty hosts the charger/headset/data cable universal port (much like the ones used by Samsung). It's ingeniously hidden under a sliding cover.

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There are only three hardware keys the VGA video calls camera is in the top right corner the universal port is cunningly hidden under a sliding protective cover

The bottom and top parts of the headset host no controls. The only point of interest at the bottom is the microphone pinhole, while the top offers the back cover release button and the stylish hand or neck strap eyelet.

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Bottom part with the microphone pinhole top part with the back cover release key and wrist strap eyelet

The backside of the LG KU990 stunningly resembles the looks of a true digital camera. The 5 megapixel camera lens with Schneider-Kreuznach optics has a hardware jog wheel, that controls the digital zoom.

The left side of the KU990 is far more interesting in terms of controls, since it incorporates the camera shutter key, the hardware keylock button, which is otherwise used to take pictures with image stabilization, and - finally a hardware slider key, that changes camera modes between still camera, video camera and image gallery.

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Camera shutter key unlock/stabilization key camera mode key

The backside of the LG KU990 stunningly resembles the looks of a true digital camera. The 5 megapixel camera lens with Schneider-Kreuznach optics has a hardware jog wheel, that controls the digital zoom. It can also be used for setting the exposure compensation and brightness, as well as for zooming on pictures in the gallery, on office documents and web pages, as well as for controlling the volume. Around the camera lens, which has no protective cover of any sort, you will find the strobe flash, the focus assist light and the loudspeaker.

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The digicam-like back of the KU990 the camera is equipped with a strobe flash and a focus assist beam for low light conditions you will also see a hardware slider key for controlling digital zooming

Removing the back panel reveals the 1000mAh Li-Ion battery. The SIM card slot and the microSD memory card slot are accessible only after you've removed it. As to battery life, there are no official figures but our test revealed that under heavy duty usage, the handset will last about 2-2.5 days with a single charge. The relatively good news is that DivX playback doesn't exert any extra strain on the battery. For example, the battery lasted enough to allow us to use the phone moderately for one full day and watch a 2-hour DivX movie later on in the evening, before it went completely flat.

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Removing the back panel the battery doesn't last that long the memory card slot and the SIM card slot are available only after you remove the battery

The LG KU990 is really easy to handle and the touch-centric form factor is of no hindrance to usability. It feels nice and comfortable to hold. Speaking of touch though, it has got to be noted that the KU990 Viewty has a different touch-sensitive display than the LG Prada phone. While the Prada screen only accepted commands when touched with a bare finger or through a thin cloth, here you can use your fingers, the enclosed stylus, a pen, or even your doorkeys (certainly not advisable!). The display deals well under bright sunlight, though no display by whatever manufacturer has so far managed to beat Nokia in this respect.

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Holding KU990 in hand

The LG KU990 Viewty comes with an original stylus dongle, that doesn't plug anywhere into the handset. It is attached to the handstrap eyelet instead. It's quite innovative and looks great, but we're not convinced that it's that convenient after all, to have your stylus dangle alongside the handset in everyday use.

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The stylus dongle might not turn out to be such a treat in everyday use

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