For further quick access to stuff, the Clear button beneath the screen calls up the dashboard when the phone is in standby mode. Left and right presses on the D-pad toggle between a calendar, date and time, and images views, the latter cycling through photos automatically and offering manual controls via the up and down D-pad buttons.
While I am covering off usability it is worth noting that the number keys inside the flip are large and responsive. I found them easy to use at speed. And another plus is that LG has done its usual trick of mapping all its menu options to number pad keys so you can either use these or the D-pad as you prefer.
The camera is the main selling point of this phone so I ought to get onto that quickly. The Schneider Kreuznach lens is touted as a key feature (and it makes a change to see that name rather then Carl Zeiss). Other pushed features are face detection and smile shot. The former ensure a face is the focal point in a photo, the latter waits till the subject smiles before it automatically takes its shot. Then there is beauty mode which does a bit of auto adjusting to remove shadows from a face. For the face and smile gizmos to work I found I had to be quite close up to the subject.
All of these face related features seem a bit gimmicky to me. What really matters is overall image quality for everyday photos and shooting at 8-megapixels isn’t necessarily a guarantee of super quality images.
I’m not sure I like the fact that there is no lens cover and the lens is flush to the back of the phone’s casing. It is an invitation to scratching. But the main problem I found during testing was shutter lag. The camera did shoot unblurred images, but with a moving subject they weren’t quite what was anticipated. The cat was looking downwards when I clicked. Still, the photo is sharp enough, comparing well with my other 8-megapixel cameraphone cat photos.
There is an LED flash and macro mode. Auto white balance was sometimes a let down. The snowdrops, always a good test at this time of year, are over exposed, for example. My standard shots, the white chair and the coloured dish, the latter photographed indoors under ordinary household lighting, are both perfectly acceptable.
Video shooting runs to a maximum resolution of 720 x 480 and there is a special shooting mode designed for high quality slow motion playback, which could be fun to play with.