Last February a relative unknown called LG crept into the bedrooms of fashionistas like a Milk Tray man and seduced them with a phone called the Chocolate. They loved its touch-sensitive keys, and it quickly became the most iconic phone of 2006.
Since then the fickle fashion world has moved on and, with catwalk numbers like the Samsung X820 and Motorola KRZR hogging the spotlight, LG has come up with a sequel, codenamed Shine.
Full metal jacket
First impressions of the KE970 (to give it its full name) are that it is an exceptionally well-made phone. It mixes the brushed metal finish of the Nokia 8800 with a RAZR-thin waist, and still feels reassuringly weighty in the hand. Its slide action is also super-smooth.
The mirrored screen won’t be to everyone’s taste though. It’s an original touch, but can be a fingerprint magnet and creates the suspicion that the phone would prefer handbags to manbags.
Debates over its ladyphone credentials aside, the Shine is a more capable phone than the Chocolate in two big ways: it’s got a camera that is actually worth using and, unlike most LG mobiles, there’s expandable memory in the form of a microSD slot.
The snapper is only 2MP, but has a lens supplied by Schneider-Kreuznach, of Kodak and Samsung digicam fame, and sports autofocus and a built-in flash. It may not scale the heights of a Sony Ericsson’s K800i, but does a respectable point-and-shoot job despite the lack of optical zoom.
Lengthy snapping sessions are also possible thanks to the microSD slot, which gives you up to 2GB – cards cost an extra £50 – to stuff with drunken portraits, MP3s and voice recordings. Gadgeteers may bemoan the lack of Wi-Fi, 3G or stereo Bluetooth, but this is missing the point: the Shine is as brainy as a fashion phone needs to be.
Unfortunately, the navigation system is a little less clever. Instead of touch-sensitive keys, the Shine has a roller bar which is flanked by four further buttons. Things become clearer after a little training, but it’s not very intuitive and feels overly fussy. The microSD slot is also annoyingly placed under the back over.
Still, these niggles shouldn’t bother potential buyers. If you want a fashion phone that isn’t quite as ‘ooh, dahling’ as LG’s forthcoming Prada, but still turns heads, makes calls and takes decent photos, the Shine is the phone to stuff in your Diesel jeans.