The LG Viewty is seen by many as the company's answer to the Apple iPhone, but is it, and if so, is it better or worse? We get dialling to find out.
The LG Viewty is notable for a few reasons. It's a 5-megapixel cameraphone; it's Prada-like with a large touchscreen; and, it is the world's first mobile capable of recording video at up to 120 frames per second.
Like the iPhone, the phone's central focus is on the 3-inch touchscreen display that dominates the design. But rather than insist that you only need one button, LG has included a call, hang-up and cancel button on the front, with additional buttons on right-hand side of the device.
Other buttons include a lock button, dedicated shutter button for the digital camera and a sliding switch to swap between still, movie and image playback similar to those found on a digital camera.
Around the back and the main focus is the 5-megapixel camera complete with Schneider-KREUZNACH lens and zoom dial.
Overall the build quality is very good, with a good mix of materials that give you a quality feel. Plastic has been used in parts of the design, but you never get the feeling people will call it or you cheap.
Press the unlock key, which also doubles as an image stablising button in camera mode and you're presented with the fairly easy to use menu interface. Everything as we've said is touchscreen and like the Samsung F700, the LG Viewty sports haptics.
In practice what this means is that the Viewty buzzes when you press the screen with the idea being that you then know you've pressed something. Not as excessive as the F700, the buzzing feeling is something that helps, but by no means is the best thing on the device.
The interface itself is fairly simple to use with the option of accessing a screen full of shortcuts such as Bluetooth, browser, games and alarms, while the main menu interface which works in a similar way to the comapany's Prada handset second gives you access to everything else.
There are four main menu subsets: calling, media, organising and settings and a quick tap with your finger opens the relevant pane. If the menu system is too long for the screen you can obviously scroll however this process isn't as nice as the iPhone with you physically having to select one of the items before dragging your finger down or up.
Press too firm on the screen and you end up selecting that choice. It's frustrating.
But the phone isn't just about a pretty interface, the LG Viewty packs plenty of punch when it comes to the latest tech.
On the camera front, the Viewty's camera includes a manual focus function, has a built-in image stabiliser and can shoot up to ISO 800 rating.
The 120 fps recording and playback claims DVD-like quality, even in slow motion. Featuring a search-enabled jog wheel on the back of the phone, users can zoom in or out when taking photos or video or use the same feature to raise or lower the volume during calls.
In use and the zoom is hard to use. With you having to hold the phone and move the dial with your finger, which invariably gets in the way. The flash also has a tendancy to wash the images out if you get too close. Overall though the interface is simple to use with the ability to change settings on the fly via a tap of the screen.
As for the image quality, it is good but a little flat on the colour reproduction, although the 5 megapixel count does help if you are looking to print the images or crop them in any way.
Viewing images back is done in landscape mode and there are a number of editing options from cropping the image to drawing on it with stamps, as well as adding colour effects, sharpening or adding mosaic blur, although in all cases, the editing process isn't instant with a small delay before you get to see what you've done.
Related to the camera software is a package called Muvee studio, which allows you to create slideshows from your images, attach music and then save it into a video format to be played on other devices.
Beyond the camera, the phone offers 3.6Mbps HSDPA connectivity that promises to not only make the Google-enabled browsing quick, but means the easy pic and vid uploads to sites like YouTube won't be painfully slow.
Elsewhere and other iPhone beating features include a second camera for video calling, Bluetooth that enables you to send images directly to your computer and a radio.
price dependant on contract
The LG Viewty has a lot going for it from a multimedia perspective. The 5 megapixel camera, the HSDPA and Bluetooth connectivity and an interface which is very easy to use.
Multimedia to multimedia the Viewty offers much more than the iPhone although it does drag its heals slightly on the touch screen capabilities.
While it doesn't have Wi-Fi, the HSDPA speeds are plenty fast enough. Web surfing is a doddle with our only complaint being that you never get a QWERTY keyboard to type with.
So which one do you choose? The iPhone does win out on a number of features, most notably the music and video playback. But the Viewty is better for the camera and connectivity aspects.
Now only if you could merge the two together, now that would be a handset to be reckoned with.