LG Prada 2 mobile phone - First Look review

It seems fashionistas just aren't ready for a touchscreen phone, so can adding a slide out QWERTY keyboard really make the Prada from LG a success? We have a quick play at the launch event to find out.

While from the front the design of the phone hasn't actually changed, there is plenty of difference with the new look Prada handset. The main addition is the new slide out QWERTY keyboard, which makes it twice the size and almost twice the weight. It's like it has forgotten rule #1 of looking good and eaten all the Scotch eggs at the buffet.

Ok, so it's not a full-on bloated handset in the same respects as the HTC Touch Pro is to the HTC diamond, but it's still enough to mean that you if you are planning on fitting it in your clutch bag you won't have much room for your lipstick or credit card; for the guys, a suit pocket will be fine.

The QWERTY keypad is fairly standard, keys are well spaced and while it's no BlackBerry Bold in its softness of touch, it's certainly easier than using a pokey virtual keyboard on the touchscreen.

That touchscreen from last season is still present and the responsiveness has been vastly improved. Now when you swipe your fingers across the screen it jumps into life and does what it's told rather than having to think about it first.

In an attempt to ape Apple's iPhone you also get multi-touch, which allows you to "pinch" images to zoom. If you've used an iPhone then the same feature on the Prada will come as second nature.

On a tech spec side of things LG has done well to bundle a number of the usual buzzwords in here, however drastically fallen short of what we would expect from a "smartphone", there is no GPS for example. While LG will flat out deny this is a "smartphone" the mere fact that is has a QWERTY keyboard will make people automatically believe that it is.

Buzzwords, as we said, include 3G, video calling, 7.2Mbps HSDPA, full HTML browser, 5-megapixel camera with Schneider-Kreuznach certified lens, and Wi-Fi accessibility.

However compared to the company's own 8-megapixel camera phone (the Renior) the Prada 2 is lacking in the megapixel count, functionality and even size.

On the smartphone front there is no real office support for the businesswomen or man in you, and a closed operating system means those looking to expand the Prada further with applications like Facebook will be disappointed. You can't. Yes you can do it via the internet connection, but who wants to do that?

Get past all that and you get 60MB of memory on-board with the rest coming from a microSD card, not included in the box.

Doesn't sound good? Well there is one great bit about the Prada 2 - the accompanying Bluetooth watch. Called "The Link" and not to be mistaken with the high street phone chain - it's actually sold at Phones4U - the retro looking Bluetooth watch, that will only work with the Prada 2, allows you to check your text messages on the watch face without getting your phone out of your pocket. Something someone at LG believes isn't as offensive as looking at your phone.

Additionally you can see who is calling you, silence the call or reject it out right. Dick Tracey fans will be disappointed to hear however, that it's not a walkie talkie.

Of course this is all well and good - if only the watch worked with other handsets like the Sony Ericsson offering - but then you realise that it can't do email. I mean how many people receive text messages in meetings that aren't - "Voicemail has 1 new message(s)..."?

Free to the first 1500-3000 customers (a random number we know) the watch will cost around £200 thereafter.

Verdict

While our time with the Prada 2 (it's actually just called the Prada as the first model is being dropped) was admittedly brief, we came away decidedly confused at what LG is trying to achieve here other than use the no doubt expensive brand association it's had to pay for at some point in the past.

The addition of a QWERTY keypad is surely an admission that the virtual one in the first handset hasn't worked. Add that to the lack of customisation or business support and you're left with a phone that is out-classed and out-performed by virtually every smartphone on the market: even by a number of LG's own handsets like the KS360 for its social networking and the Renoir for the size and camera.

Where the first Prada phone worked was that it was the "Desperate Housewives" crowd that wanted something touchy and cute. Now the rest of the market, including Apple, has caught up.

If there is ever an argument to say that fashion is all looks and no substance, on a first look, this seems to prove the case perfectly.