LG appears to be going great guns at the moment with its mobile phones. The quirky KS360 might not have achieved top-notch scores but its consumer focussed sliding keyboard proves the company is prepared to innovate, while the 5-megapixel camera toting KC550 was designed to bring high quality photography to the masses.
Now we have the KT520 which as I write is exclusive to O2 and costs £90 on Pay and Go. The phone is tri-band GSM with 3G. It isn’t designed to rock anybody’s world with its fancy and innovative features. Instead it is meant to be a foil to handsets like LG’s Secret, and to be a solidly mid-range mobile.
It certainly has a mid-range ambiance to it. I’m not too delighted with the chunky feel of this mobile in the hand. Even given that this is a slider I’m not happy about its 15mm or so of thickness. It is also a bit tall for my hands at just under 102mm when closed, growing to just over 135mm when opened. Width is OK at pretty much 50mm and it is a mere 97g in weight which is welcome.
The light weight can be put down in large part to the plastic body. LG has gone for a traditional black and sliver livery that works well enough, but even with the rounded corners the feel is just a little on the cost-cutting side. The slide mechanism is smooth, though.
The screen measures 2.2 inches diagonally and delivers a standard 240 x 320 pixels. I’ve no real complaints about it except to say that LG could probably have squeezed something a little larger into the casing – albeit with a concomitant price hike.
Beneath the screen you’ll find a button bank. Call and End keys are very close to the bottom of the handset, which, as they are likely to be the most frequently used keys on this mobile, is a bit of an awkward position for them. I’d have liked them further up. The softmenu keys are a long way below the softmenus to which they correspond. To be fair this won’t make a difference in everyday use, but it does look a little strange.
In between the softmenu and Call/End keys sit a Clear key and a switcher. The latter is very useful as you can use it to move quickly between applications that you’ve already opened on the phone. There’s another handy option on the left softkey when you are in the home screen. Labelled ‘My stuff’, this takes you directly to a list of folders containing images, sounds, videos, games and apps, downloads and flash and other stuff stored on the phone and on a microSD card.
As usual for LG, menu options are hardwired into number-pad keys, so you can either tap the corresponding number key or use the D-pad to get around. The numberpad keys should suit anyone who does a lot of texting. They are large and give out a little click when pressed. I’m not convinced about their durability, though. There is a lot of flex around the number pad as you press keys, and mechanical longevity could be suspect.
The D-pad has a little trick up its sleeve. A central select button and surrounding directional pad, complete with arrows to remind you about its up, down, left and right functioning can be made touch-sensitive.
You can configure this feature to be off, on, or only functional for Web browsing. You can also set its speed to high, medium or low. Turned on, you move your thumb around the sensor to make selections. It’s not exactly a new idea, and while it is nice to see it implemented on a lower cost mobile I did find it a bit fiddly. The D-pad’s select button has a sensitive area with a circumference of about 8mm, which I found to be pretty small to work with.
The music player is adequate. There is 30MB of on-board memory and a microSD card slot for you to add more. The player automatically found tunes stored all over the place on my microSD card which is just how I like things. Having to put songs into designated folders is a no-no where ease of use is concerned.
Loudspeaker volume is not as high as on some handsets but perfectly good enough. The quality of the provided headset is reasonable, and the equaliser settings, of which there are several, do make a noticeable difference. LG falls over by not offering user defined equaliser settings and, more importantly, by having a proprietary connector for the headset. This is the same connector required by PC cable and mains power. The player supports the genres tag but not composers.
There is a front camera for video calls, and the lens for the main camera is on the back of the casing. It is a bit of a downer that the lens isn’t kept scratch-safe inside the slide mechanism. It shoots to 3-megapixels and benefits from autofocus, but there is no flash and no self-portrait mirror.
Both indoors and out results were iffy. The coloured dish is a bit lacking in vibrancy and its background should be white rather than the dull off-white it is in the photo.
Outside, the chair photo is not uniformly the brilliant white it should be, and the flower photo reveals a multitude of sins. The flowers are overexposed, and focus is out. The phone was about 15 inches from them and it decided to focus on the slightly further away leaves. Distance shots were more acceptable, but the camera has some very clear limitations.
There’s no Wi-Fi – well you wouldn’t expect that on a mid-range phone, really. Mobile email of the POP variety is supported alongside SMS messaging. Yahoo! OneSearch is built in; an RSS reader supplements the Web browser plus there’s a voice recorder, calendar, to do list, memo tool, alarm, calculator, stopwatch, unit converter, world time utility, date finder (it tells you the date ‘n’ number of days into the future), and LG’s Secret Memo application that lets you protect info with a security code. LG provides a cable so you can connect the phone to a PC.
There’s nothing outstanding about this mobile, and its one headline feature, the D-pad sensor, is a bit iffy. Still, on the other hand, for £90 this isn’t a bad little phone. Just don’t expect too much from its camera.
Score in detail
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