LG Renoir Review (LG KC910)
Around 12 months ago I was coming to the end of my mobile phone contract and looking around for an upgrade. The iPhone was, and still it seems, the most popular gadget at the time, but to me it was a bit too bulky, and very expensive for the amount I use my mobile. I searched around a few places, particularly looking at the touch screen range of phones, and came across this neat piece of kit.
The phone has a very straight forward, simple, look and design. It's around 4.5 inches long, about 2 inches wide, and maybe half an inch thick. The front of the phone has a 3 inch touch screen window, a small front facing camera, and 3 physical buttons. On the back of the phone, there is the main camera, 8 Megapixels no less, with flash. Around the sides of the phone you have slots for a micro SD card, headphones and power, volume control buttons, a button to lock the phone, and finally the button to take camera pictures. The back of the phone is a shiny but dark grey colour, and the rest is a shiny black. It's a good solid phone, which isn't as big as many of its touch screen peers, and fits snugly in your pocket without causing any unsightly bulges.
I have heard complaints from my friends about previous LG touch phones, such as the LG cookie having an unresponsive touch screen, but I've got no complaints about this one. It comes with a screen protector which is designed to fit this model, and even through that the screen is as touch sensitive as anything I've used before. I've had the phone around a year now, and the protector is still perfectly attached, with no bubbles or visible signs that it is there, and there is not a scratch on the phone.
On the main screen you can customise a background, or use a picture from your phone memory as a wallpaper. Along the bottom of the screen there is 4 buttons, one to bring up a number keypad for dialling, one for bringing up your contact list, one for messages (email, text, MMS), and finally one for the main menu. Along the top of the screen is a thin status bar showing your signal level, battery level, the time, and other indicators such as "Silent mode", or unread message. If you press this bar, it brings up a more detailed status screen, showing the timezone you are in, the network, your phone memory usage, the profile mode you're using (silent, loud, general, etc). Also on this screen are 3 buttons to quickly turn on or off the Bluetooth, wireless, or mp3 player.
Returning to the main screen you have the option to add customised "Widgets" from a list of pre-installed gadgets. These can be quick links to web pages, or a larger clock, or a weather forecast application, or a notes function. You can move them an position them wherever you want on the main screen.
Making calls is very easy. From the front screen you can either press the first button, which brings up the number keypad for you to dial, or you can press the second button to scroll through your list of contacts. The contact list can be browsed simply by scrolling through the list, swiping your finger down the screen to drag the list down. It also has a search box to enter peoples names, if you have a large address book this is useful! One you've entered your number or found your contact you can either press the large call button on the touch screen, or press the green physical button on the front of the unit.
In the messages menu, you will see all the usual folders you'd expect, inbox, drafts, sent, email, etc. All of which are again touchable. Creating and replying to messages is simple enough, again using the touch screen a keypad comes up to allow you to type your message. Using a phone the standard way shows the typical phone keypad layout, with 3 or 4 letters per key. You can us standard input, or predictive text, where as you're typing a number of words automatically come up which match the letters you've used so far, and you can just touch the word you want. If you turn the phone to the side, a full "Qwerty" style keyboard appears. If you're feeling really adventurous, you could even try the handwriting mode. This is where you use an object, be it your finger or the wrong end of a pen, to "write" on the screen. The phone tries to recognise the characters you are writing and interpret them as words in your message. I have to say this isn't the easiest thing to use and takes a bit of getting used to, odd characters often appear as you're writing!
This is the best bit of the phone for me. I used to have a separate camera, which of course I never had with me whenever I wanted to take a picture. With my previous phones, a 1 or 2 megapixel camera took a decent picture, but as soon as you enlarged it bigger than a phone screen it started to get a bit blocky, or pixelated. This one is a huge 8 Megapixels which is fantastic for a phone, and it takes some great pictures. The lens is protected by a shutter which you have to open before you can take pictures, and as a nice feature, when you open the shutter the phone automatically goes to camera mode for you.
The flash works brilliantly and so you can get great pictures, even in the darker situations, at a party or in a bar for example. It has an auto focus when you half press the "take picture" button, then when you're focussed, press the button all the way and it takes your picture. Scrolling through the gallery is easy, again just swipe your finger across the screen to scroll through the pictures. The phone will automatically rotate pictures when you rotate the phone using its inbuilt motion sensors.
When you're in the gallery, you can easily add a picture to a picture message with a couple of key presses and send it to friends using MMS. You can also send via Bluetooth.
The phone also comes with video capture, which again is of good quality of both picture and playback. The only caveat here, is you need good light, as the flash obviously doesn't stay on while you're filming.
Transferring your videos and pictures is easy using the supplied software on the CD with the phone. You can connect to your PC using either Bluetooth or a cable. Unfortunately the cable is not supplied and transferring fairly large picture files (due to the quality) can take some time.
As I mentioned earlier on the front of the phone there is another small camera for taking self portrait shots or for holding video calls. This camera is of lower quality than the back camera and doesn't have a flash.
On the main menu there are four sub menus:
- Communicate - this menu are includes links to your contact list, your call history, messaging, and speed dials
- Entertainment - Links to your gallery, activate the video or photo camera, access your music files, an FM radio, and a Games and Apps section. You can download hundreds of games for this model phone, most of which you have to pay for. The basic pre-installed games demonstrate the motion sensor functionality of the phone, but do little to entertain you. There is also a basic editing for photo's and a "Muvee" studio to put pictures and videos together into little clips.
- Utilities - the utilities menu links to the web browser, allows you to set alarms, write memos, voice record, or use the tools sub menu. The tools sub menu has a calculator, stopwatch, world clock, and currency/weight converting tools
- Settings - as per many other phones you can customise ringtones, message tones, the colours of your phone screen, and much more. You can also turn Bluetooth and wireless on or off here. You can block certain callers, or forward calls to different numbers in this section.
The Three Buttons
As mentioned in the description of the phone, there are 3 physical buttons on the front of the unit. The first is a green call button for dialling people, or bringing up the redial list. The third one is a red hang up button for ending calls, or for backing out of menus quickly. Finally the middle button is a quick links button. When you press this a set of 9 options appears on the screen including links to you tube, Google search, Google mail, alarms, camera and new message.
I find this phone great for web browsing. Due to its large screen the web pages can be viewed easily and clicking on links is simple just by touching them with your finger. The phone comes preinstalled with MSN messenger, Skype, and links to popular networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo. Entering web addresses, and updating your Facebook status is easy, using the same input methods as the messaging functionality above.
All in all a great purchase I feel. It's not an iPhone, and therefore doesn't have as many applications available for it, but essentially a lot of the functionality is the same. I can still access the web just as easily, and since the camera and flash is of such high quality, for me this is better than an iPhone. Battery life is good, lasting 3-4 days with a couple of calls and few texts each day. I'd definitely recommend this phone to anyone who likes the idea of an iPhone but doesn't want the expense of one.