It’s easy to forget as tidal waves of iPhone hype crash over the UK that LG kick-started the touchscreen mobile revolution with its Prada phone. It doesn’t offer Apple’s ingenious Multitouch, of course, but that hasn’t stopped LG returning with a follow-up – the appallingly-named but super-powered Viewty.
The KU990, as it likes to be known formally, is another touchy-feely fondler that features-wise wallops the iPhone back to EDGEville. The LG KU990 Viewty is essentially the Prada phone, undressed and bulked up to accommodate a 5MP shutterbug, 3.6Mbps-flavoured HSDPA download speeds and a virtuoso video capturing performance.
It’s a big feature jump from the Prada and, although it’s filled out, the Viewty still feels relatively streamlined and lightweight. The mechanised call and cancel front keys remain, plus various camera-related side buttonage and a handy screen lock key, but operating the device still goes primarily through the stunning three-inch widescreen.
The touch-sensitive arrangement works fine on simple selection taps (each prod is greeted with a feedback pulse) but trouble brews when scrolling down menus or web pages.
Response to your stroking is erratic at best. Similarly, when selecting specific links within a website your finger suddenly becomes as unwieldy as a Cumberland sausage.
Another concern is typing text messages using the virtual keypad. The layout is like a standard phone but the keys feel less reactive when speed texting and its reaction time is prone to the occasional lag. The Viewty’s touch UI just doesn’t appear as fluid as the iPhone.
Despite the navigation issues, full fat web browsing on the Viewty is a delight, buoyed by the copious widescreen and brisk HSDPA speeds that make the iPhone’s sluggish EDGE times resemble a sloth on Mogadon. Sure, Apple’s blower has the advantage of Wi-Fi but rove out of hotspot range and the Viewty’s HSDPA will have the last laugh.
LG has gone to great lengths to make the Viewty resemble a dedicated digital snapper from the rear by bolting on a sizeable lens. This Schneider-Kreuznach (they’re optics experts like our mates Carl Zeiss) endorsed lens is surrounded by a jog wheel that activates the 16x digital zoom and doubles up as a navigation aid when scrolling through menus.
Unfortunately, this spring-assisted disc is awkwardly placed and thorny to rotate. Far more convenient is a side switch that toggles between still, video capture and your gallery.
Like the Sony Ericsson K850i, the 5MP snapper is bang up to speed with its photographic features, stacked with autofocus, Xenon flash, Macro mode, ISO and white balance options. The camera user-interface is breeze to negotiate via the touch-screen and this widescreen display is superb as a viewfinder. Picture quality easily ranks alongside adversaries like the K850i, G600 and N95.
But it’s video where the Viewty really impresses the pants of you. Not only does it match the N95 in the resolution stakes by recording in VGA (640x320pixels) at 30 frames per second but it also has a 120fps at QVGA quality mode that sanctions playback in slow motion – perfect for viewing action shots in all their glory. It’s also worth noting that the Viewty supports high-quality DivX video playback.
We’re severely torn by the Viewty’s high-end features and the unpredictability of its touch-sensitive nature. If you can master its tap’n’stroke ways then the LG KU990 Viewty is an attractive proposition. If you can’t, then its classy feature line-up suddenly becomes less appealing.