So, it did not take me very long to get tired of the outdated Nokia 1110 I have been using while waiting for the Nokia N95. The N95 which, by the way, was not released last week as I had expected it to be.
I therefore decided to get an intermediate phone and because I decided to try something different, I went out and got a LG KG320S, second hand. In this post I will write a bit the KG320S and LG's line of "design" phones.
Please start by taking a look at this video of the KG320S:
I hope you will agree with me that the KG320S is a very slick phone to look at. What is difficult to assess in the above video is just how thin and light weight the phone actually is. It is very thin and light weight - in fact, nimbleness and slick design combine to make the KG320S a very dainty, if not *gay* phone. I cannot really decide whether to assign it to the "ladies phone" category? Maybe I should just label it as "urban" and "metrosexual", and leave it at that…
The specs of the KG320S reveal it to be a phone with basic, no-frills features: Tri-band, Bluetooth & GPRS, 1.3 Megapixel camera, 176×220 TFT color screen, music and video playback, 128 Mb non-expandable memory, connect to pc as mass storage device via included USB cable.
The interior does not quite match the slick exterior, however. Inside the phone resides a very ordinary phone OS, which unfortunately does not keep up with the "tight" design of the phone's exterior. The Media Player, for instance, sports an equalizer that occupies most of the screen and by default is in 3D and all the colors of the rainbow. It seems as if the UI designers have not quite been able to restrain themselves - something which is also evident from the UI's inherent inconsistencies. For instance, every menu, submenu and so forth is assigned a keypad number. Now, it would be nice if the option to delete something (text message, image, video, email, contact etc.) was always assigned the same number, but regrettably this is not the case. The number assigned depends entirely on what is to be deleted - it can be '2′ (music file), '3′ (message or image), '4′ (inbox or video), '6′ (photo album), '7′ (SIM contact) or '8′ (Phone contact).
Apart from this discrepancy between the design of the phone's exterior and interior, the KG320S actually implements its features quite well and I am very happy with the phone. The speaker is quite good and the camera takes nice pictures, except that maybe the shutter is a little slow.
Here are some images taken with the KG320S. Please bear in mind that a) I am a lousy photographer and, b) quite a few of the shots below feature my daughter who - because of being in constant motion - only manifests herself in pictures as a blurred whirl.
Here is a video taken using the KG320S. Because of a difference in the implementation of the .3gp video format, video captured on LG phones (maybe just some models) cannot be played back using Apple's QuickTime. If you want to view video on a computer, get MPlayer, VLC Media Player, or convert the movie - e.g. using SUPER. I did the latter with the following video sample:
Video test on KG320S.
[gv data="http://gersbo.dk/files/blog/anna/anna_KG320_test.flv" width="352"][/gv]
LG Design Phones
The KG320S is part of a new line of LG phones that emphasizes the design of the physical phone. Within this line of "design" phones, the KG800 Chocolate model (brief video review) was released last year to wide acclaim (more than 1 million units sold outside Korea, awarded several design awards). At the time of writing, two new variants of the Chocolate model (3G (KU800) and Platinum (KE800)) are being released, as is the LG Shine model (KE970). The much anticipated KE850 Prada phone is to be released later this year.
The Prada phone is particularly interesting, partly because the collaboration with Prada really underlines LG's emphasis on signature design, partly because the phone's touch screen really underlines LG's emphasis on signature design, partly because the phone's touch screen resembles that of the iPhone. This YouTube video gives you a pretty good idea of how the LG KE850 phone handles itself.
If we look beyond the great looking phones for a minute, what I think is really interesting about LG's line of design phones, are the implications for LG's mobile strategy. LG's strategic goal is to become the third largest handset manufacturer in the world - LG is currently the fifth largest manufacturer.
A telltale sign of the LG design phones specs is the absence of cutting edge features - e.g. with a single exception these phones are not 3G, none have wifi and the models of last year all had limited, fixed memory and 1.3 mega pixel cameras. The models just released all have better quality cameras and card slots for memory expansion, but still, these features are yet again a step back from what can be considered cutting edge right now. What this implies is that LG consider phone features to have - in general - become sufficient and that competition will now turn to other characteristics. This implies that LG consider the combination of basic, good-enough features and the emphasis on distinctive design as a viable strategy towards increasing sales (at a rate surpassing those of their competitors, mind you), thus realizing their strategic goal.
It is going to be interesting if this will indeed be the case - the success enjoyed by Nokia's L'Amour collection over the last couple of years probably suggests so. For LG, I think the potentially most significant snag may prove to lie with the phone OS. Because of its touch screen, the KE850 Prada model comes with a special-purpose, flash-based OS, but the other models all appear to have the same proprietary OS. As noted above, this OS does not quite keep up with the effort spent on designing the exteriors of the phones. I personally hope LG's line of design phones will continue its success. In general, I really appreciate that available alternatives to the larger manufacturers exist and I particularly value the exceptional design effort that stand out from the ordinary.
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