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LG's new range of Chocolate phones is all about style and we like style. Style is good. However, when form is top of the agenda, it often means function can be left lacking. Thankfully the BL40 that we looked at a few weeks ago, though far from perfect, mostly managed to avoid this. However, this week we're looking at the BL40's little sibling, the BL20. Though it looks very similar, this is a handset meant to provide the same sense of style but at a more affordable price.
So what's different? Well, the BL40 is a tall slim candybar phone with a solid glass touchscreen front. In contrast, the BL20 is a shorter slider phone with a keypad and no touchscreen.
Build quality isn't quite on the same level as the BL40, either, as the front is made from plastic, which will pick up scratches far more easily. In fairness, that's the only major issue we have with the build quality as the rest of the BL20 is well put together with no hint of wobble in the all-metal slide mechanism and a general solidity to the whole thing.
Also absent is a headphone jack. Instead, you must use an adapter (included) that plugs into the micro-USB slot on the side if you want to use your own headphones - the earphones LG provides are adequate for making calls but next to useless for listening to music. This is all the more of a shame as a microSD slot under the battery cover means you could potentially fit plenty of music on this phone. The adapter does at least include a microphone and button for answering and ending calls.
The BL20's styling, though, is identical to the BL40 with glossy black adorning the front and back, chrome strips running down the sides, and splashes of red on the top and bottom. It's a design we liked in the BL40 and we think it works just as well on this smaller phone.
Another aspect that's immediately obvious, despite the BL20's premium look, is its small screen; just 2.4in diagonally. With only 320 x 240 pixels, it's pretty low resolution as well, and doesn't lend itself well to any task you might associate with a smartphone, like reading websites or emails. It also makes watching video a fairly taxing experience, though given its very limited file format support you'll be hard pushed to find anything that plays on it anyway. All this said, with considerable brightness and colour saturation and decent viewing angles, it's still a perfectly adequate screen upon which to view SMS messages, calendar entries, and other basic phone apps.
Below the screen sits perhaps this phone's signature feature (after its styling); its array of touch-sensitive buttons. These are used to control most of the phone's main navigation with a central 'ok' button surrounded by a quartet of direction buttons, two soft keys to the top left and right, a multitasking button in the bottom left, and a widget key in the bottom right. The latter pops up a list of basic applications like a weather display, alarm clock, notepad, and contacts rolodex. These can be opened on top of any other running program to quickly check something without disturbing what you were previously doing.