Not too long ago we took a look at the LG Shine and this time we are going to the next level with LG's most elaborate fashion phone, the KE850 or as it's better known, the Prada. To be fair to LG, the Prada phone arrived ahead of the Apple iPhone and it features a touch interface, although, it is not quite multi-touch. The phone itself is tiny for a touch screen device, as it measures just 99x54x12mm (HxWxD) and weighs a mere 85 grams.This in itself makes the Prada phone quite attractive, although that depends if you don't mind being without a physical keypad or not. The Prada does have a few buttons, although only three of them are located at the front fascia. What you'll find here is the make and end call buttons and a back button. The end call button also takes you back to the standby screen and powers on and off the phone.
The remaining buttons are located on the left and right sides of the handset. Starting with the right hand side, you'll find two buttons, one is the keylock button, or in this case it's more like a screen lock button. The phone will automatically lock the screen and the keys after a few seconds on the standby screen to prevent accidental presses and you have to press the keylock button to re-enable the keys and the touch screen.The second button has dual functions, press is quickly and it launches the MP3 player application, press and hold it and it launches the camera application. There's also a small loop hole here for a carrying strap or a neck strap, although I belong to the generation that wouldn't be seen dead carrying my mobile around my neck.
Moving on to the left hand side we find a further two buttons and a hidden connector. The first button enables the speaker phone, although this is only possible once a call has been initiated, which is slightly annoying. The second button is a volume rocker switch that simply turns the volume up or down.The connector is of the multipurpose type and you connect the charger, USB cable and headset into it. We have some issues with the design of this connector and the cover, as the first time you take the cover off, it feels like it's going to snap off. Attaching the charger or any of the accessories is easy enough, but removing them again makes you feel like you'll snap the thin internal connector. Although it's unlikely that you'll snap the connector, the cover is most likely going to fall off at least some of these phones. While we're on the subject, the whole handset is made of plastic and it doesn't feel as solid as the Shine, although this is partly what keeps the weight down, but it also scratches and smudges extremely easily, it's good that LG supplies a polishing cloth with the Prada, as you'll need it, that's for sure!
Look around the back and we find the battery compartment and another 2Mega pixel camera, although this one is actually meant to have a Schneider-Kreuznach lens, unlike that Shine that is just certified. It also has a small LED flash and it seemed to work ok at close range, but won't have much effect in a dark room. One interesting feature here is that it has a very tiny mirror which reflects your face, which we guess, is handy if you like taking photos of yourself, as it is only good for use at close ranges.
Pop the lid off the battery compartment and you'll find a battery rated at 800mAh, a SIM card slot and nestled below it a micro SD card slot, which is rather hard to get to. You actually will have to remove the SIM card to be able to fit a memory card here and getting the memory card out requires some kind of object to press it with.
Screen and Operating SystemScreen and Operating System
The screen is rather large at three inches and with a 240 x 400 resolution, it also looks great. This is a 262,000 colour display as well, so pictures will look much better than on most Windows Mobile devices. You'll see how clear the display is from our screen shot images, as these were taken with our digital SLR camera. The capacitive touch surface was generally okay to use, although some applications had far too small icons for normal fingers to use them and required multiple attempts at selecting the right option. Although, the general UI was pretty quick and easy to use, with the only major issue being that there's no virtual keyboard for text input.Instead you have to rely on T9 or multi tap when you want to enter messages, which isn't the best way of doing it even on a device with a normal keypad. Sure, if you're used to the kind of text lingo that is being used these days, then maybe that isn't going to be too much of an issue, but if you want to send a business email while you're out of the office, then it's going to drive you nuts. The same goes for when you want to use the web browser, as typing in URL's without a keyboard, just isn't fun at all.
But before we go into details about the software, let's take a closer look at the hardware. Sadly this isn't a 3G handset, but you might already have guessed that due to the slim line design. You get tri-band GSM coverage on 900, 1800 and 1900MHz and it supports GPRS and EDGE. It also lacks Wi-Fi, but it does include Bluetooth, although we couldn't pin-point if it supports A2DP profiles for stereo sound.It has only 8MB of built-in memory, although it should ship with a 256MB memory card, but this might differ depending on where you buy it. For some reason LG seemed it fit to limit the contacts list to 1,000 contacts and the SMS memory to 300 messages - even worse, the calendar is limited to a mere 100 entries and 50 text memos. Considering that this kind if information takes up very little space, it's an odd limitation that LG has imposed upon the Prada.
The standby screen can actually be messed around with in several ways. You can use a range of pre-installed templates and backgrounds and one of them has a Koi Karp swimming around seen from above and it looks pretty cool. The analogue watch can be moved around the screen, you just grab hold of it and drag it around with your finger. Tap it and you get a menu up that allows you to set your alarm. All pretty neat and it gives out an air of expectation.The rest of the UI is quite easy to use, although to get the most out of it, you sadly have to leave all the tapping sounds and other noises on, as you won't know if you've miss-pressed a key without it. This can make the Prada a slightly annoying experience in the long term. The menu structure is very straight forward and the Prada has four small tabs for the various menu sections on the right hand side. You tap these to move between the various menus and simply tap whatever you want to do to start the right application.
It doesn't take more than a couple of minutes to get to grips with things and this is a good thing, since you won't have to sit down and read page after page of manuals. Oh, by the way, the manual comes on a small 8cm CD instead of being a printed booklet, so be grateful that the Prada is so easy to read, as digital manuals are generally quite terrible.To make a call you simply press the call button, or you can select the call icon at the standby screen or from the menu by pressing the dialling icon. Up comes a virtual keypad and you tap in the number and press dial - again this can be done with the button or the touch screen.
You can of course synchronise your contacts from your PC with the Prada and this way you can just pick and choose your contacts from a list, which is much easier than entering it all manually. The contacts application allows for contact groups and speed dials, just as with most other modern phones.
Other cool features of the Prada is of course the MP3 player, which is pretty straightforward to use again, although it's a little bit tricky to figure out how to get to your music the first time, as you don't get a file browser, only a couple of playlist options, although the play all will play all music that is on the device or the memory card. The UI for the MP3 player looks quite cool, although it lacks an equalizer, much like the media player on Windows Mobile devices. The supplied headset comes with a separate remote and this way you can choose to use your own headphones.Saying that, the supplied ear buds sounded quite good for something that comes bundled with a phone. The corded remote has a built-in mic and a wide range of buttons. You can answer and end calls with it, play and stop your music, fast forward or rewind or skip forward and backwards between tracks. It also has a built in volume key and a small clip for fastening it onto your clothes.
There's also a built-in FM radio and it had fairly good reception, although not great. It will auto scan for radio channels and store them in one of 12 presets. You can't manually just scan for stations, which is slightly odd.
Camera and Sample PhotosCamera and Sample Photos
The camera application was pretty straightforward to use again, although some of the icons for changing settings were too small and made it fiddly to enable things like the flash.The camera has auto focus, although there's no pressure sensitivity in the shutter button (the same button that launches the application) and this meant that there was a severe shutter delay in most cases, which resulted in many blurry shots. The quality isn't great, but it's okay as a point and shoot camera for basic web usage or MMS.
As you can see from the full size crop from the image below, the quality is slightly blurry even when you line up the object but once it saves, the quality isn't too bad. Indoor shots were actually better than those produced by the Shine and with the LED flash enabled, darker objects would come out slightly better than without it.
The Prada can also record video and voice, although the quality was fairly poor for video. LG has supplied four games, all fairly mundane things, but one of them takes advantage of the wide screen ability of the Prada, but the touch sensitive screen lets it down, as you can press on two places at the same time and the response time of the touch screen seems to be slightly too slow for games of this type.
We haven't covered every feature into detail and there's a wide range of little utilities that comes as standard, all of them more or less useful depending on what you use your phone for, as you can see in the OS shot above.
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts
So there you have it, the LG Prada, is it a winner or not?Well, it depends what you're looking for in a phone. It lacks a lot of functionality, but so does the iPhone. Do people care? Well, again, it depends what you're using your phone for. It will work great as a stylish and hip phone for consumers interested in an easy to use phone with impressive quality screen and fancy OS. For consumers looking for the ability to quickly type up business messages or those looking for high-speed web surfing, it fails here with no 3G support, just EDGE (2.75G) which is much slower.However, there's one big flaw apart from the issues mentioned in the review and that is the insanely high price LG expects you to pay for the Prada, as it's retailing for no less than $675 USD, which is just too much for what it is unfortunately.You get a funky new phone complete with Prada logos and some features, which are mildly impressive, but asking price has surely got to make it a hard sell for what you get when all is said and done.- Pros
Touch screen interfaceLight weight at just 85 gramsVery high quality screenFancy OS looks impressive and responds rather quicklyBluetooth supportedExpandable memory via MicroSDFairly easy to useFM radio supportStylish MP3 player2MP camera offers quite good quality photos- Cons
VERY expensive for what you get!No 3GNo Wi-FiNo full QWERTY virtual keyboardScratches and smudges very easilyMade out of plasticRating - 7 out of 10