We sniggered under our breath at its silly name but the 5MP-toting LG Viewty’s impressive camera and video chops helped it sell big. Two-years in the making, its follow-up, the Viewty Smart arrives with a new look and armed with even cooler features.
But while the Smart is next in line to the Viewty throne it has more in common with two of its other LG teammates, the Arena and Renoir, than its predecessor.
Taking LG’s fun to use S-Class interface first seen on the Arena and parts of the Renoir’s 8megapixel camera set up, the Viewty Smart is looking to become the Korean’s manufacturer’s leading touch phone.
Sleek and lightweight
It’s certainly the best looking of LG’s touch troupe, with the Viewty’s clunky chassis sanded down for a sleeker tapered design; its hard plastic shell nails the balance between robust design and lightweight pocket poise.
The stunning 3in, WVGA-quality capacitive touchscreen has been drafted in from the Arena and remains a deft display. It’s receptive to your touches, swipes and drags and not far off matching the iPhone’s and HTC Magic super sensitivity.
The S-Class interface is also fun to use, with four sliding homescreens ready for customisation with widgets, shortcuts and individual songs and photos.
The main menu consists of sliding elasticated rows that are graphically ‘inspired’ by the iPhone. But imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and like the iPhone, it’s intuitive to use.
The cramped onscreen QWERTY on the Arena required a lot of practice to lick and it’s the same with the Viewty Smart. You get more accuracy using your index finger rather than your fatter thumbs but learn its quirks and layout and typing out quick messages becomes second nature.
LG’s Prada II was the first phone outside of the iPhone to recruit multi-touch gesture controls for zooming in on web pages and photos and the Viewty Smart follows suit. It works well and is highly convenient but lacks the grace of the iPhone.
Now that Wi-Fi has been added, internet surfing is even faster with lickety-split HSDPA ready to take up the baton outside of a hot spot range. Sadly, the web browser proved frustratingly sluggish to use at times once the pages loaded and fiddly when selecting web links.
Photos settings galore
The 8MP camera setup is chocker with photo mods including image stabilisation, geotagging via built-in GPS, multi-face and smile detection and a beauty shot.
Best of all is the Intelligent Shot mode that automatically analyses the frame and lighting conditions, selecting the optimum settings for the perfect snaps – ideal for the point-and shoot brigade who don’t tinker with photos features.
Both the original Viewty and Renoir boasted a Xenon flash so we’re surprised, and a bit miffed, to the see Smart only packing a power LED.
LG has also cranked up the ISO setting to 1600 to help cope with low lighting conditions but the downside is photos can come out a little grainy. Otherwise general picture quality is sharp and colourful, with good contrast and definition.
The built-in D1 camcorder is the same as the Arena’s and shoots in a maximum 720x480 pixel resolution at 30fps. Footage is decent and although there are traces of judder, image quality for the most part is clean. Playback of DivX videos is also impressively smooth and highly watchable.
Dancing with Dolby
With Dolby Mobile activated the very intuitive to use music player sounds clean but a little too clinical via the supplied headphones. Plug in your own quality pair and the heightened bass tones give it more warmth.
Despite being influenced by the Arena, one of the Viewty Smart’s biggest disappointments is the lack of an integrated 3.5mm headphone jack.
Rather annoyingly LG has plumped for a 3.5mm adapter hooked up to its standard proprietary connector. It’s exacerbated further by a flimsy covering flap that would break off in a light breeze let along a fumble in the pocket.
For LG KU990 Viewty users upgrading to the Smart is a no-brainer. It’s undoubtedly LG’s smartest touch phone yet and also an accomplished camera and video phone. But certain feature omissions means its ‘smart’ moniker is a little misleading and not the iPhone-botherer some people may be expecting.