It hasn’t taken long for today’s ambitious camphones to climb to the heights of 8megapixels. The air might be thin and their sensors comparatively small, but Sony Ericsson’s C905 and Samsung’s i8510 are at the summit, and have now been joined by the LG Renoir.
Snigger-inducing name aside, the Renoir (or KC910, as we prefer to call it) has one big difference from its competitors – it’s completely touchscreen, with no keypad.
It doesn’t take an LG fanboy to realise that the KC910 is a close relative of the company’s other touchscreen phones, the Prada and Viewty. And, if you’ve used either of these handsets, you’ll realise that this is a mixed blessing.
The 3in touchscreen is like the British weather in April – inconsistent. At least there’s no stylus to bother with, but screens with lists are hard to fathom.
Another annoyance is that the feature icons only appear onscreen briefly. By the time you’ve located the right one, they’ve disappeared.
Luckily, the screen works a little better with the KC910’s headline feature, its camera. A virtual slide controls the zoom, which is digital only – there’s no ‘proper’ optical zoom squeezed in.
One of the areas where the touchscreen enhances the user experience rather than getting in the way is the focus. Not only can you just move the focus by plonking your finger on the correct spot on the screen, you can just hold your finger to ‘lock on’, then remove it to take a shot. Very nifty.
There are plenty of other neat camera features too, from continuous shooting to smile shutter and the worryingly named ‘beauty mode’. Sadly, this doesn’t auto-replace mingers with models, but does handily remove blemishes.
The differences were modest in our shots – luckily, it didn’t consider our entire head to be a blemish – and we had trouble making the smile shutter work, but overall images were strikingly good, at least on a par with Samsung’s i8510. The flash is occasionally overpowering, but the KC910 also shoots VGA video at 120fps with slow-mo playback.
Phone of many talents
Naturally, taking photos and video aren’t the KC910’s only talents. Dolby and DivX both make audio and video playback better, and the phone comes with a disc of software to convert your video files, although this doesn’t rip your DVDs.
There’s also Wi-Fi and HSDPA for fast data transfer, plus Assisted GPS for Google Maps. We also liked eccentricities like the Jogging Buddy, which works out your speed, again through A-GPS.
It’s a shame that there’s no 3.5mm standard earphone jack, though an adaptor is provided so you can plug in any headphones if you don’t fancy the average supplied pair.
Despite all these features, the KC910 manages to be significantly less chubby than the Sony Ericsson C905, although it’s far from iPhone-slim.
And it’s Apple’s blower we come back to in the end. Although it’s much more powerful in lots of ways, the Renoir just isn’t as sexy, intuitive or slick as its nemesis. If photographic prowess is your mobile deal-breaker, the KC910 is still worth a look, but otherwise there are better touchscreen contenders out there.