A few weeks ago I was contacted by a PR firm who are working on behalf of mobile phone manufacturer LG. I was told that a new handset would be coming onto the market in February, as part of their ‘black collection’, which started with the Chocolate and was asked if I would like to try out a pre-release version and present my findings to the blogosphere. A request that I accepted.
I decided to hold off on posting, feeling that a rushed review would serve no purpose over any others found on the web, written by guru’s who simply pick the phone apart by it’s spec sheet. I really wanted to present my findings as a user, someone who has had extensive experience with using the handset as a consumer like any other. I hope you find my notes of use.
The first thing that you notice when you see an LG Shine is that it is very glamorous. The silver is striking and you just want to touch it to see what it is made of, sterling, steel or plastic.
I believe it is made of stainless steel. It certainly is quite scratch resistant, so this is a major plus. Even after spending days in my pocket, being rubbed up against coins and keys, it has no visible marks on it.
The Shine is a slide handset, which has become a small problem. With greasy fingers, as there is no dedicated grip to push the phone up, it can be awkward to get it into the open position and once you do, you’ve left countless finger marks all over the screen, requiring a rub on your trouser leg to clear.
The phone is packed with features, a lot for the size.
The camera is of good quality, incorporating Schneider Kreuznach optics (quoting from the same page as Carl Zeiss and Nokia here, methinks) which make for high resolution shots and a great macro mode. Unfortunately, it is brought down by having a really pathetic zoom rate. Even when zoomed all the way in it really isn’t any closer in to the action than normal.
Bluetooth is de facto, as with any handset these days.
MP3 player is built in, but with just under 50mb of internal storage in the 2G flavour, there isn’t much room to breathe, but of course, MicroSD cards are optional and cheap.
The keypad is sturdy, the keys are average size, but you do really need to use fingernails to press them, which, for those who are like me and enjoy a good old munch on them quite often, can become a bit of a problem. Not something that a few days of willpower won’t fix though.
Consequences of the fiddly keypad are that text messaging becomes quite cumbersome, and the ‘hang-up’ button is right there above the 3 button. On many an ocassion I have been in the middle of a long SMS message and pressed the dreaded red button, only to lose the whole message, and it’s doesn’t get saved to drafts either!
The screen is one of the biggest plus sides to this phone, it is very high quality, a good size and the clarity is unbelievable. Photos displayed are shown clear and bright, as are the menus. It is far superior to any other that I have used over the years.
Now for my least favourite part of the handset, the scroll wheel.
I could not get on with the wheel at all. I found it unresponsive and tricky to use and the buttons either side of the wheel (not the softkeys) even more so. They are way too small, even to be used with fingernails.
In the image above, you can see that 5 buttons have been put into one very small space.
Soft key on the left (with the slit), then a button, then the screen wheel, then another button and then the right soft key. The buttons next to the scroll wheel are the offenders that I spoke about above. They are used for navigating left and right through menus.
Although, one redeeming factor is the menus are designed in such a way that you do not actually need to go left or right if you don’t want to, going down or up far enough will eventually take you to the icons on the left or the right of where you currently are.
Negative part over, I have thoroughly enjoyed using this phone over the past few weeks. As many of you will know, day to day I use a significantly different handset to this, the Nokia N91 (pictured to the right with the Shine).
I have found that although the LG model is a very sophisticated piece of kit and very desirable, the advanced functions that come with the Nokia N91 are far more suited to my lifestyle (4gb hard drive, wi-fi, html browser, etc.). You really do have to decide what type of phone you need and what suits you.
If you like to look swish, but don’t spend too much time navigating the menus, connecting GPS receivers and browsing the interweb, then this may just be the phone for you, it really is the Prada bag of mobile phone handsets. Expect a horde of WAG’s to be snapped by the paparazzi and adorning the pages of Closer, Heat and Hello with their LG Shine’s in hand.
Overall 7/10 – I do like this phone.