If you’re on the hunt for a touch phone on a tight prepay budget then today’s limited line-up won’t make good credit crunch reading.
The Apple iPhone 3G starts at a whopping £342 on pay-as-you-go, while other contenders like the LG KC910 Renoir and Samsung M8880 Pixon are only available on pricey contracts.
With this in mind the LG KP500 Cookie, the first bona-fide budget touch phone, couldn’t have come at a better time. Hovering around the £100 mark, it represents great value in these gloomy, penny-pinching days.
Big feature and design compromises are inevitable when you haunt the lower handset divisions, and the Cookie is no different – there’s no 3G, GPS or Wi-Fi.
But it’s certainly not without its charms. The chassis is compact and well-built, and the bright and sparkling 3in display is roomy enough to accommodate your pinkies.
Considering we’ve found LG’s touchscreen interfaces to be, at best, sluggish, we were pleasantly surprised to find it to be receptive to our taps and swipes.
In fact, the side-loaded stylus remains practically redundant, only making an appearance should you get creative on the Drawing Panel app.
Like its powerful bigger bro, the Renoir, the Cookie sports two homescreens ripe for widget customisation. The default panel lets you drag and drop icons for controlling the music player and FM radio, viewing your picture gallery, calendar entries or writing a memo, as well as an analogue clock face and a world clock.
One quick swipe takes you to the second screen, on which you can assign up to eight speed dial contacts. And if you don’t like your widgets in a messy sprawl across the screen, one quick shake of the handset will neatly auto align the icons.
Virtual keyboard capers
Tapping out messages using the on-screen virtual keyboards is also less fraught than expected.
You can use a standard phone keypad in an upright position or turn the phone, let the auto accelerometers kick in and thumb the QWERTY in landscape mode. More meaty-fingered users may need the stylus but average sized digits won’t have a problem.
The web browsing experience isn’t the smoothest we’ve experienced and it’s not helped by pages loading at snails pace over EDGE.
Similarly, the 3megapixel snapper is missing autofocus for sharper focus and any kind of flash, but you can tinker with exposure and white balance if you have an eye for photography. That said, the pictures aren’t good enough to print.
Right now, in such an elitist touch phone climate, it’s hard to fault the first budget tickler, particularly when it’s price tag is so affordable and the design so svelte. But we’d still like to see more accomplished budget touch phones follow before we downgrade from our iPhone.