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First Impressions: The New LG Prada Phone

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When the LG Viewty launched this time last year it did a fairly good job of beating up the company's own much-hyped, but actually fairly mediocre, Prada KE850. That seemed fair enough, the two models launched six months apart and we were talking midrange verses flagship. So what I want to know is what is LG's excuse this time around?

Having been rather unimpressed with the official Prada II specifications (strictly it is 'Prada' in the way 'iPod' replaced 'iPod' for many years) I held off giving out another kicking until I'd seen the chunky handset in person and had a chance to speak with those responsible for its creation. In short, I came, I saw, I'm still unimpressed.

Let's give you some first impressions here. First off the Prada (II) isn't a bad phone, it looks rather stylish, there are some notable hardware improvements: 7.2Mbit HSDPA, 5MP camera with Schneider-Kreuznach certified lens and WiFi which makes a welcome appearance. It also feels quite nice in the hand (not so good in the pocket - more of later) and build quality has definitely improved from the first generation.

Against this however the Prada II lacks GPS - a virtual given these days, sports the same 3in 240 x 400 pixel touchscreen, is now far fatter (16.8mm verses 12mm) and heavier (approx 140g) thanks to its bolted on physical Qwerty keyboard and yet has no business sensibilities whatsoever.

So what is this Qwerty for then? In essence text messaging. So what we have is a premium fashion phone, the size and cost of a smartphone debuting during the worst economic depression in more than a decade. At least it must have social networking, right? Some Facebook, MySpace, Twitter integration... nope, nada.

Still, there must be a bundle of native memory you'd think? Well you'd also be wrong again. Just 60MB onboard and while there is a microSD slot capable of taking up to 8GB cards (no, not 16GB) you'll get no card in the box!

So we have a KS360 for the fat of wallet and boy, it needs to be fat. Carrying a 600 euro RRP (circa £450) sim free the new Prada costs a third more than the 8MP LG Renoir.

Sorry guys, while we would all love a wardrobe full of Prada clothes and the name carries a given premium my time with the handset suggests I certainly won't want a Prada (whisper it: II) in my pocket...

Update: In all fairness I should point out the first 1,500 - 3,000 (yes, wonderfully vague) Prada (II) customers will get a free Bluetooth watch called 'The Link' as a consolation prize. The Link connects to your phone and allows you to preview incoming text messages and reject calls without having to take the phone out of your pocket... a wise idea given the RRP.

For now The Link will only work on with the new Prada but LG said it may make it compatible with more of its own handsets. That said, with a normal £200 asking price you're going to have to put your hand deep into your pocket to avoid, well... putting your hand deep into your pocket.

Expect it to be hacked to worth on any handset quick sharp.

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