Our BL40 New Chocolate Chocolate pre-production unit offered two gallery modes depending on the handset's orientation. In portrait mode images and videos are displayed in a grid while in landscape mode one image is displayed in the center and two more on either side in an impressive 3D spatial view. In fact they are the same as in the Arena, Viewty2 and Crystal, but this is a very early version of the software and we expect some improvements in the final product.
Multi-touch is also part of the gallery, allowing for the pinch-to-zoom gesture happily borrowed from the Apple iPhone.
The music player is the same as these in the previous S-Class feature phones. The only new upgrades are the Shuffle button above every playlist (just like Apple iPhone) and the prettier landscape mode, which has been made possible by the wider aspect screen.
While the music player hasn't changed much since the Arena or the Crystal, the video player has been completely overhauled.
It managed to play all the DivX movies we threw at it, though the XviD videos playback was a bit more of a hit-and-miss affair. We hope the final version of the UI will have those glitches all cleared up.
For the TV enthusiasts there is a quick shortcut to the TV-out settings if you need to play the videos on a big screen.
There are no playlist options at this stage, but the player will play the next video in the current folder after finishing the present one.
Dolby Mobile is available on the video player and is turned on by default. And just so you know, its potential is best appreciated through headphones.
Much like the LG Arena, the New Chocolate sports both FM radio and an FM transmitter.
The BL40 New Chocolate sports a 5 megapixel camera with Schneider-Kreuznach lens and a LED flash. It's capable of taking photos with maximum resolution 2560x1920 and features image stabilization, geo-tagging, face tracking, blink and smile detection.
The BL40 New Chocolate comes with the revamped camera interface, resembling that on the Viewty Smart. Access to all the camera settings is via the left taskbar in the viewfinder. There you get virtual buttons for Scene mode, flash, focus mode (auto/macro), advanced settings and Homescreen button.
The BL40 New Chocolate Advanced settings camera menu is a clever rotating dial (digicam style) with the available options for each setting displayed as a list on the right. The interface is very handy, neat and usable.
There's another bar on the right hand-side of the screen. It offers a virtual shutter key plus exit and gallery buttons. This bar is fixed and is not transparent - instead it's permanently laced there to get around the wide aspect ratio of the LG BL40 New Chocolate screen.
There are two scroll bars on both sides of the viewfinder - one for zooming and one for the brightness adjustment.
And finally, there's the new Intelligent shot mode, which picks the best scene preset according to the shooting conditions and the subject. It's the first time that we've seen a feature like this implemented on a mobile phone.
Since our pre-production BL40 New Chocolate unit produced nice photos with decent levels of detail and pleasant colors, we decided to publish some of the samples we took. The noise reduction algorithms have not been fully refined yet and sometimes they blur the fine details. At some places there's extreme oversharpening (the buildings edges, for instance), but as we warned you this is just an early pre-production sample. Presumably a lot of those things will be fixed in the final version and we expect the image quality to be at least on a par with the LG Arena.
Unfortunately the video recording didn't work well on our unit, so we can't provide you with any samples. The BL40 New Chocolate is expected to capture videos with VGA resolution at 30 fps.
The BL40 New Chocolate has a gorgeous display and its user interface is among the best in the "touch feature phone" class. With a more polished and more customizable UI, a nice music player and excellent video playback support, the LG BL40 New Chocolate is much closer to what the LG Arena should have been in the first place. But as we see quite often, manufacturers always leave some room for improvement to help differentiate their future products.
The one-off form factor and the first of its kind 4-inch display will certainly help the LG BL40 New Chocolate stand out among its competitors, there's no doubt about that.
So that's pretty much all there is to note about our pre-release LG BL40 New Chocolate. Fortunately, the official LG promo material promises even more new stuff.
First off, there will be new SatNav software – the Wisepilot for LG, which should solve the lack of adequate navigation in the LG phones. Next is the enhanced 3D gallery that's even fancier than the current one, new UI functionality in landscape mode and even more eye-pleasing effects. Combine that with Wi-Fi, a better web browser and a 5 megapixel snapper and the LG BL40 New Chocolate begins to sound like a top-notch multimedia gadget - and a fashionable one, we might add.
The New Chocolate is an intriguing and aesthetically striking multimedia gadget. The new form factor is certainly going to divide people: you will either love or hate it. However, its odd looks might work against it and the BL40 New Chocolate may never be as popular as say, the LG Arena. But our team here at GSMArena.com loves to see technology evolve and lately LG have been giving us quite a few reasons to celebrate.