The second-gen Chocolate phone is a world away from the original slider. With its 4in, high-resolution widescreen, the BL40 is primed for 21:9 cinema-esque movie playing and, theoretically, desktop-style web browsing.
To house this extended display, the sleek BL40 is ridiculously long. It’s about 2cm taller than the iPhone, and will make its users the butt of many ìÖor are you just pleased to see meî jokes. Still, the usual Black Label Series build quality is evident, with red paneling mirroring the original’s markings.
But back to that screen. The 4in, 800x345 resolution display has a 21:9 aspect ratio, just like your local multiplex – and it’s a thing of great beauty when fed a decent quality movie file.
Of course, if you want to fill the screen, you’ll have to encode your videos at this ratio – otherwise you’ll be watching your movies in widescreen 16:9 or 4:3 format. You can manually extend your 16:9 movies to 21:9, but blocking will occur.
Watching high-quality files in the full-on cinema mode is fantastic and images are smooth, sharp and detailed – up there with the iPhone 3GS – but watch movie trailers and some smudging does occur. Resort back to lower aspect ratios and the pictures, particularly iTunes music videos, look a tad small in the widescreen real estate.
Widescreen web browsing
Another advantage of the 21:9 aspect ratio is the entire width of a web page can be viewed without the need for scrolling horizontally. Use the phone in landscape mode and the accelerometers are super-quick to render the web pages in its widescreen entirety.
The flipside of that width is the lack of depth when web-browsing, so you’ll find yourself scrolling up and down a lot, which can be tiresome. Still, it’s better than scrolling in four directions.
Souped up S-Class
LG’s fun S-Class interface has been tweaked to embrace the BL40’s web prowess.
Alongside the new stylish 3D main menu icons, the multimedia homescreen has been replaced with a browser panel that lets you customise the space with your favourite web bookmarks. The capacitive touchscreen is also very versatile and responsive.
Sadly, the multi-tasking dual screen feature is a little disappointing, as it only works in the calendar, music player, text messaging and email client.
It’s most useful in the latter where the adjustable double panel lets you view emails much like you would in Microsoft Outlook on a desktop PC. But we’d like to have seen it in the web browser too.
Plug in your own headphones via the top-sided 3.5mm jack, switch on the Dolby Mobile audio buffer and you’ll coax a highly listenable and dynamic sound from the music player.
Similarly, the 5MP snapper has a great touch user-interface and compelling tech like Face Tracking. And despite the vapid LED flash, the LB40 takes some pleasing snaps.
Full marks to LG for ingenuity, then, as despite the increasing collection of phones primed for big-screen action – like Toshiba's TG01 – the BL40 certainly stands out from the crowd. But that freakishly long body that helps it do so will put off punters with a penchant for pocketability.