LG Prada 3.0 pictures and hands-on

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the new LG Prada phone is that it doesn’t look as vulgar as some of the rich person handsets that have gone before it. There are no hideous Swarovski crystals here, no vile faux gold trim, just a stylish and well-designed handset.

If we had to compare it to something, we’d have to say, it looks and feels a lot like the Samsung Galaxy S II. It’s a little heavier, perhaps, but the thin design and high-quality plastics used make this feel like a real rival to the Samsung phone.

Prada, keen to point out it is more than just a silent, named partner in this phone, has customised the user interface. The black and white style is carried throughout the phone. Perhaps crucially, the company has even made extra icons for apps not installed on the phone. This is so you can stick to the black and white theme, and not have a red YouTube logo. There are also letter icons, so if the stylised icon you want isn’t available, you can pick a relevant letter. Perhaps A for Angry Birds or T, for Tiny Tower.

And we're full of praise for the stunning widgets too, these add something different to the phone, giving your home screens some useful - if geeky - information. The weather applet is very minimalist and cool. We found ourselves surprised by how taken we were with it, and we hadn't drunk any free champagne either. 

And it has power too. There’s a dual-core 1GHz processor here, with 1GB of dual-channel memory. 8GB of storage is included to store music and photos, but as with most Android handsets, there’s the option to add a microSD card too. The inclusion of an 8-megapixel camera is something of a boon for photo lovers too, although it’s too early to tell how it performs.

Even more amazing, perhaps, is the inclusion of NFC technology. This allows phones to act as payment devices for low-cost purchases in shops and train travel. Perhaps LG hopes that those posh shops we can’t afford to buy stuff from will be allowing people to pay using this new phone. It can also write, as well as read NFC tags, so there's a lot of scope here. Perhaps one day the phone will help you pick an outfit in the morning using NFC tags embedded into your clothes. 

As you would expect, there’s a very nicely designed custom user interface here too. It’s mono coloured, but it looks pretty stylish. Certainly all the usual Android greens have been banished as a result of the fashion people getting involved in everything. Under that though, is the most recent release of Google’s Android, Gingerbread 2.3.7. There will no doubt be some moaning about the lack of Ice Cream Sandwich, but really this won’t likely bother the target audience for this handset.

One thing we loved was the optional dock with the ability to mirror the phone display on a TV. This is pure cool, and supports the phone like a leg, but is made of a glorious metal that really did fit the Prada name.

You may not care about fashion phones, but it seems LG has really stepped up with this one. If the price isn't absurd, we can see it selling quite well.