LG’s KF700 is a tri-band GSM handset with 3G support including HSDPA. It has 90MB of user memory and a microSD card slot on its top edge. I got my review sample from O2 who has it exclusively from launch.
Like the last LG handset I reviewed, the KF600, the KF700 is a slider. The dimensions of the two mobiles are very similar. This time around we have a mobile phone that is 102mm tall, 51mm wide and 14.5mm thick. It weights 104g. This is remarkably similar to the KF600’s 101mm x 51mm x 14mm x 107g.
What makes the KF700 distinctive, LG says, is that it has three input methods. First off we have a touchscreen. No surprises there, really, because touchscreens are all the rage at the moment and LG has fully embraced the idea with recent offerings.
Unlike the novel second screen InteractPad on the KF600, though, the touchscreen used here is more run of the mill. There is a single front screen, measuring a generous 3in diagonally, 34mm wide and 67mm tall. It is 240 pixels wide but its height accommodates 480 pixels. That’s a few more pixels of height than were managed in the Viewty, which launched last year.
The screen gives you a little vibrating feedback when you tap its icons, which helps confirm that you’ve actually made a selection. This is always a pleasing feature on a touch-screened mobile.
The user interface design is quite intuitive which should help those who aren’t fond of reading manuals. Which is just as well, really, as my sample from O2 didn’t have a printed manual or one on a CD.
On the main screen there are several tappable areas. Across the bottom row are four icons which take you quickly to call history and the video call screen, contacts, messaging, and the phone’s main menu. Above this row is an O2 branded touchbutton you can use to get onto the web.
The status icons sit in a row along the top of the screen. They are small, but you can tap anywhere along the top screen area to open a ‘status summary’ screen that shows you battery level and connection speed and lets you change profile, go into flight mode, flick to the music player and turn Bluetooth on and off (there is no Wi-Fi here).
There is a slide out panel whose touch icon is on the right of the screen. Hit this and you can see the date, analogue and digital clocks, and what looks like a blank yellow Post-It note. Tap the note and you can write a memo, tap the calendar and you can view appointments, tap the clocks to change city and set alarms.
The main menu arranges icons in four groups with phone and messaging in one group, multimedia stuff in another, personal organisation and Internet stuff in the third and settings in the fourth. Four icons ranged down the right hand side of the screen let you switch between the groups.
There is a screen lock button on the right edge – and you will need to use it if you want to avoid things happening accidentally while you are carrying this phone around.
The other two input methods are rather less exciting. One is the bog standard keypad that is revealed when you slide the screen upwards. The keypad is flat and the keys large. We were fine with it. The Call, End and Cancel keys are also here, though you can initiate voice and video calls from the touchscreen too.
The other input method is the novel one and LG calls it the Shortcut Dial. On the back of the phone is a sliver wheel which stands out against the rest of the casing’s black plastic. It is positioned to fall under your left thumb.
You press a side button sitting immediately beneath it on the left edge of the phone and a carousel pops up on screen with five options you can scroll though using the wheel. You select what you want by pressing the side button or tapping the screen. There is a sixth option that lets you change the presets to suit your preferences. When you activate the carousel, the screen you were previously on fades into the background but does not disappear. It is OK as a feature, but not a deal-maker.
What makes this mobile a winner is the great screen which flicks into landscape format to make the most of its 480 pixels at useful moments. You can use widescreen for Web browsing, for example, and switching is a simple matter of tapping an icon. You can drag a finger to scroll around a webpage and user the Shortcut Dial wheel to zoom. When browsing photos, which are shown wide screen, you can scroll through a sequence dragging the screen and use the Shortcut Dial wheel to zoom too. This all works well enough, but it doesn’t feel quite as smooth as the touchscreen on the standard-setting iPhone.
There is a front-facing camera for two-way video calling, and the main camera has a 3-megapixel lens with autofocus and a flash. LG has done better with 5-megapixel cameras, and the one here is passable but not wonderful.
The autofocus is a little slow to function and it did no always deliver spot on results. The coloured dish, for example, photographed indoors under household lighting is not as sharp as I would have liked. The same can be said for the hanging basket which has good colour reproduction but some fuzziness in the image itself. The chair’s glaring whiteness causes problems for some cameraphones but here the highlights are more controlled than others, despite some heavy softening and a bluish tone.
There is a music player of good quality, and the headset, while proprietary at the phone end, is two-piece so you can use your own 3.5mm headphones if you prefer them. Other applications include an FM radio, messaging including mobile email, voice recorder, to do list, calculator, world clock, unit converter and stopwatch.
Wi-Fi could have lifted this phone from being a good touch-screened handset to one that was very good, as the screen size lends itself to mobile web browsing. However, the camera could have been better, the Shortcut Dial has more potential than has been implemented, and in comparison to Apple’s benchmark-setting iPhone the touchscreen is a bit sluggish.
Score in detail
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