There is no phone like the New Chocolate out there. It’s easier said than done these days, and LG do deserve credit. What makes it stand out are the unique proportions but that doesn’t necessarily mean that tall is the new slim. Handling and overall feel are hard to get right on such a handset. It’s a fine line, and we can safely say LG didn’t cross it.
While the bar form factor is hardly revolutionary, the LG BL40 New Chocolate silhouette leaves quite an impression. The LG BL40 New Chocolate measures 128 x 51 x 10.9 mm and weighs a good 129 grams. Those numbers may sound scary at first (especially the height) but with the time you get used to the unusual size of the phone. And believe us, the impact it makes is worth a couple of inconveniences.
The LG BL40 New Chocolate rides heavily on the piano black gloss of the original. The thin metallic lines on the sides and the Ferrari red accents on the top and bottom add another touch of class.
As to the shape, well, it's not everyone's cup of tea, but then it was never meant to be. One thing's for sure: if you want to be noticed, very few phones will do it for you better than the New Chocolate.
The few hardware buttons on the LG BL40 New Chocolate make a nice job of blending in with the seamless styling of the phone.
Above the display we find the earpiece (which doubles as a loudspeaker), the video-call camera, proximity and ambient light sensors. It does sound crowded but in fact all those things are hardly noticeable against the classy black finish.
The left side of the LG BL40 New Chocolate has a single key which opens the music player. The microUSB port is on this side as well, and it's got the same latch cover as the LG Crystal - it's probably the most convenient microUSB cover introduced by any handset manufacturer so far.
The right side of the BL40 New Chocolate accommodates the volume rocker and the shutter key. While the other side keys are as thin as the ornamental silver frame, the shutter key is wider and rounded, and quite comfortable to use.
The top hosts the 3.5mm audio jack and the Power/Lock key. Both are easy to access and nice to use. The Power/Lock button is a little more prominent than the other hardware keys but it's also probably the most used physical button. Since there aren’t any hardware call buttons on the front we thought it could’ve made sense for the Power/Lock button to reject incoming calls. It turns out though that using the on-screen controls is actually the only way to do that.
The red bottom looks like a mirror image of the top - good symmetry and nice contrast. At times you may find yourself wondering which way is up. All you get at the bottom is the mouthpiece.
The back follows the same "less is more" mantra as the front. The 5-megapixel camera lens is here alongside the LED flash and a hole for an extra microphone - this allows the BL40 New Chocolate to record better audio for your video clips.
A rather conspicuous logo testifies for the Schneider-Kreuznach certification . There's nothing to protect the lens from scratches though so you'll need to be careful with it.
The back cover comes off easily in a slide to open fashion. It holds firmly though, no wobbles or creaks. Underneath is a 1000 mAh Li-Ion battery, the SIM card compartment and the microSD card slot. A side-accessible card slot would’ve spoiled the seamless look of the handset really, so we guess the compromise is not too big. The card is still hot-swappable. The LG BL40 New Chocolate handled a 16GB microSDHC card trouble-free.
The battery is quoted at 400 hours of standby and up to 6 hours of talk time.
All that glossy plastic on the back however comes at a price. There isn't a fingerprint that it won't catch and the screen isn't any better. Out in the sun, the New Chocolate often looks a smudgy mess. Make sure you take the time to wipe the phone clean - this is a handset that needs to always look its best.
The BL40 New Chocolate feels heavy in the hand but not unpleasantly so. It will take you some time to find a convenient hand-hold position in which the four corners of the screen are within your thumb's reach and the head-heavy phone doesn’t risk slipping off your hand.
To sum it up, the peculiar shape does take its toll but the impression the phone makes and the exclusive feel are well worth it. It’s an elaborate piece of equipment that looks absolutely sharp and makes sense. By the way, the unusual shape and size surprisingly make the phone extra comfortable to hold during phone calls.
With touchscreen bars, the front is usually dominated by the screen, but "dominated" is nothing short of an understatement here.
The screen is of course the centerpiece of the entire phone. While a 21:9 aspect ratio is common in cinema and relatively rare in TVs, in mobile phones it's one of a kind. And along with the regular functionality, the BL40 New Chocolate capacitive screen also offers multi-touch.
The 21:9 aspect ratio is great in PMP terms but the 4” display is a real treat all around. The touch sensitivity is top-notch, the handset responds to even the lightest taps. And the sunlight legibility, which has been a problem of earlier LG handsets, is a great surprise. The screen has probably gotten some new sort of finish that improves things tremendously. Not least, the precious piece of hardware is well protected against scratches with its tempered glass coating.
The LG BL40 New Chocolate may not be iPhone-good in direct sunlight, but it's close. Not to mention it has quite a few more pixels on the screen than the iPhone. The colors are vibrant - the picture quality makes watching videos and browsing photos a nice experience.