proprietary, 3.0in 480×800 display
LG’s KM900 Arena is a touchscreen smartphone with multi-touch support, which places it in direct competition with Apple’s iPhone.
It has WiFi and 3G HSDPA for fast downloads, GPS with A-GPS (see FAQ, left) for navigation and a 5-megapixel camera that records DVD-resolution video. It’s one of the first phones to include Dolby Mobile, which provides pseudo-surround sound through headphones. It even has a built-in FM transmitter, so you can listen to your MP3s over a car radio.
The Arena looks superb. It’s slim and light, and the silver model we reviewed had a brushed metal and chrome finish. The large touchscreen’s capacitive technology reacts to touch rather than pressure and supports multi-touch gestures such as pinching to zoom in, although this doesn’t work as slickly as on the iPhone.
The interface consists of a 3D cube that you spin to display one of four Home screens. These are largely superfluous as most of the functions are duplicated on a short-cut bar at the bottom of the screen. The Contacts screen shows pictures for contacts stored on the phone but not the SIM, and the multimedia screen doesn’t automatically update to display new files. Our impression was that LG has tried to pack in too many visual treats, resulting in an inconsistent, clunky interface that gets in the way more than it helps.
With no keypad, you’re forced to use the onscreen keyboard for text entry. When held vertically, the phone displays a T9 number pad, which has large keys and text prediction, but turn it sideways and you get a full QWERTY keyboard. This has smaller keys and, although a pop-up confirms which key you’ve pressed, you’ll have to use the very tips of your digits. Even then, it’s not as accurate as we’d like, and to compound matters the delete key is too small.
As with most phone cameras, the KM900 suffers from shutter lag, but the results were full of detail. The DVD-quality video looks great on the large screen. Dolby Mobile didn’t provide any great improvements, though, and the volume doesn’t go very high.
The Arena has some annoying quirks. Setting up WiFi was straightforward, but frustratingly you can’t take advantage of it when using the YouTube or Google Maps applications. The Arena has very few bundled applications, and could certainly do with social networking and IM programs.
Although it’s competitively priced, the Arena is no match for the iPhone. It’s light, looks good and has great video capabilities, but the interface can’t compete with Apple’s. The range of applications is also a let-down, so we simply can’t recommend it.
|Main display size
|CCD effective megapixels
|Video recording format
|MP4, H.264, H.263
|Memory card support
|Memory card included
|GSM 850/900/1800/1900 3G 850/1900/2100
|WEDGE, GPRS, HSDPA
|Microsoft Office compatibility
|Audio format support
|Video playback formats
|headset, data cable, charger
|Tested battery life (MP3 playback)
|Price on contract
|Free on £30 per month, 18-month contract