Last year we stood and watch megapixels grows and grow, and just when we thought that the cameraphone battle would continue in another direction – additional features such as auto-focus, better camcorder capabilities, etc. we saw a GSM mobile phone with a 5 megapixel camera. Well, here it is, the LG KG920 finally arrived at our test site and we grabbed it with hands itching to go out and shoot something… Shoot with the camera, that is. The 2” TFT display with a QVGA resolution, a miniSD memory card slot and a clever rotating design all add up to make the LG KG920 an interesting proposal and a lot of fun too. It’s our job to get on to it and see for ourselves (and for yourselves for that matter) if it’s got what it takes to rule the current cameraphone market.
Koreans have been enjoying 5 megapixel cameraphones for quite some time now. The original version of the KG920 – the LG SV550 has been available since 2005. Current Korean CDMA mobiles have reached the heights of 8 and 10 megapixels already. The GSM world is far from those achievements though and a 5 megapixel GSM cameraphone can no doubt make the headlines with an ease. The same would happen with Nokia N95 which is the next 5 megapixel GSM cameraphone to appear on the market.
LG waited for almost a year to announce a GSM version of their SV5500. Supposedly they would try to build on the success of their innovative LG Chocolate phone so their timing for releasing the LG KG920 has its marketing strengths. Since the cameraphone is rather expensive, riding the wave made by the previous successful mobiles can be of nothing less than in its favor.
Truth be told, LG KG920 has a quirky design – it’s one of those designs that you just love or hate from the very first glance. The first impressions we got when we saw the device was that it had pretty solid construction. The metallic parts, the high-quality plastics and the visible bolt heads add to the feel of a very sturdy build. The KG920 is not among the smallest or slimmest devices with its dimensions of 108 x 50 x 18 mm, nor is it among the lightest ones with its impressive weight of 138 g which is more suitable for a smartphone or even a PocketPC. Our opinion is that the dimensions are pretty ok, only the weight is a bit too much for our taste.
The front panel has a rather intriguing design since the keypad is situated in the lower half of the panel. The top part doesn’t feature a navigation D-pad, but three contextual soft keys. Most of the time you would end up using only two, but there are instances where a third option appears – for example they come quite handy in the camera interface. On both sides of the soft keys you can see the green and red receiver keys. The navigation D-pad is placed on the further right side of the keypad. There are some icons on it which designate the preset function of the corresponding directional key.
As we already said, the keypad has a rather strange design due to the rotating construction. The keypad is located on the front part of the rotating part, while the 5-megapixel camera lens is located just on the opposite. The swivel joint has a pretty solid feel to it and we doubt that it might cause any problems in future. Rotating it to 180’ degrees allows you to take a self-portrait picture while still using the display as a viewfinder. Our impression is that there really isn’t a need for that functionality. One could live with it anyways, but the real issue is that it affects the user-friendliness. The reason for the quirky placement of the navigation D-pad is exactly that rotating swivel design. What is more, this is also the reason for the small alpha-numeric keys. Just the opposite, the correction C key just below the D-pad is extremely large when compared to the other keys.
Speaking of strange keys placement we should add that the front panel incorporates several more keys. Those are two dual shortcut keys – one starts the MP3 player and can be used for toggling the flash settings in the camera menu. Furthermore it can toggle the self-portrait’s timer. The second dual key is used for controlling the digital zoom.
The left side of the handset incorporates the miniSD memory card slot, the charger port and the headset port.
The right side of the KG920 hosts the camera release key which is positioned on a special elevated plate which makes it more comfortable to use. Just beside that are the two volume control keys.
The top and bottom side of the LG KG920 are pretty bare and don’t feature any special elements.
Flipping the phone around reveals the back panel, the 5 megapixel camera lens and the bulging battery. The camera lens has a mechanic cover, a LED flash which aids the auto-focus in dark environments and the strobe flash which is almost as good as a regular xenon flash used in digital cameras, only a bit weaker. Just beside the camera lens is the loudspeaker grill.
The battery of the KG920 can be removed easily revealing the standard SIM card bed. The battery itself is Li-Ion and has a capacity of 820 mAh. According to the manufacturer it should keep the phone running for up to 180 h of standby and up to 3 h of talk time. Real figures are much different of course. When put to low to moderate use the battery charge lasted around 2-3 full days. When used for continued playback, the LG KG920 would stay alive for no more than 6 hours. Generally, do not expect much from it.
Well, we were very pleased with the construction of the KG920 – it seemed as though it was made to last. No doubt about it, the manufacturer has intended that when creating the design. In the current wave of ultra slim devices, the KG920 main selling point won’t be the dimensions themselves but the exceptional quality of the construction and finish.