LG’s newest flagship smartphone, the LG Arena, packs in a ton of features you seldom see in its category and price point. We took the new phone for a spin in the last two weeks to see what’s the catch. Check out the review after the jump.
Design and Construction
The LG Arena’s design looks really simple in the outset, not too slim and not too thick either at 12mm (although it’s actually thinner than the iPhone 3G). The faceplate is surrounded in metal with a brushed finish while the backplate is covered in aluminum and plastic. It feels light and fits very well in the hands too. (See full specs and unboxing photos here.)
There are very few physical buttons here — a power button, a camera switch and volume controls — and it gives you an impression that everything else is controlled via the touchscreen.
Navigation and Touch UI
The touch UI of the LG Arena allows for multi-touch, a feature very few touchscreen phones support; and since it has a capacitive screen, the Arena no longer needs a stylus and it’s all finger-flicking from hereon. LG also added a haptic feedback mechanism which you can completely control — vibration volume, touch sound and vibration type.
The S-Class Touch UI gives the screen a 3D effect with an eye-catching Cube navigation that rotates around in 4 panels (Contacts, Widgets, Music and Shortcuts). The Home Screen is packed with all icons for all sorts of controls for Communication, Multimedia, Utilities and Settings (reminded me of the iPhone home screen) — it even re-orients horizontally in landscape mode.
Text input is done via a virtual alphanumeric keypad at the vertical position and switches to full qwerty in horizontal position (landscape mode). While the full qwerty is large enough and easy to get used to, there seems to be some response lag once you start typing real fast. Typing is pretty accurate with a miss-rate of about 2 characters for every 5 words.
LG didn’t hold back to complete the connectivity features in the KM900 — WiFi 802.11 b/g, 3G (HSDPA up to 7.2Mbps), Bluetooth 2.0, GPS with AGPS support — you won’t look for anything more than that on a mobile phone.
What I found bit lacking though is WAP 2.0/xHTML browser which is a little slow even on WiFi although it has some nice features like tabbed browsing and multi-touch navigation (pinch, stretch, swipe etc). Since the Arena can multi-task, you can run several applications and load multiple websites all at the same time. Of course, there are some noticeable slowing down of apps and functions when running them all at the same time.
Multimedia and Entertainment
The LG Arena has a large 3-inch screen with a resolution of 480×800 pixels in bright and crisp 16M colors. This is evident when playing videos where even at an angle, the display still projects the same video quality (no bluish haze like in the iPhone).
The music player is fast and easy to use with some pretty nice visualization. Although I found the volume not too loud, applying the Dolby Mobile in the equalizer made some nice improvements on music playback (at full volume, songs are less pitchy and has a little bit more bass).
Another rare feature of the LG Arena is the FM Tuner with Transmitter so you can broadcast music from the phone to any FM receiver at home or in your car’s stereo (last time I used this feature was with the Nokia N78).
The 5-megapixel camera takes nice quality photos (Schneider-Kreuznach optics) with a fairly fast and stable autofocus. See sample photo below:
Video capture isn’t as impressive though (since there’s no autofocus) despite the large resolution of 720×480 @ 30fps. See sample video below:
Video quality degrades on close-up shots (see another sample here) and ability to do slow-mo video recording is a really nice addition. Video files are saved as 3GP instead of the more familiar MP4.
There’s an internal storage of 8GB but it can be extended to 40GB by adding a 32GB microSD card (haven’t seen one available in the local market though). The battery is rated at 1000mAh and last about 2 to 2.5 days on regular use.
At its price point, the LG KM900 Arena could be a hit to those looking for a full-featured touchscreen phone. It’s got everything you’ll need from a smartphone in a good form factor and pretty nice UI.
The LG Arena has a suggested retail price of Php24,990 and comes in Silver, Titan Black, Dusty Pink colors.