I’ve been checking out the LG KF600 mobile phone over the last few weeks. It is a slide phone which is not uncommon with phones today, but what sets it apart from other phones is the dual screen display.
The main screen (320 x 240) is situated at the top, whilst at the bottom is a smaller screen (240 x 176), which LG have called the InteractPad, which is a context sensitive touch screen display.
The controls in this bottom screen change depending on the feature you’re using. So for example, if you’re using the camera then the InteractPad displays icons to control the camera. If you’re using the MP3 player then the InteractPad displays the MP3 player controls. This is an interesting concept. By only displaying controls specific to the function in hand it stops the phone from being cluttered with too many controls.
Upon opening the box I was impressed with the looks and styling of the phone. LG have done well in this department. The phone is certainly shiny with nice chrome edging, so much so that I had difficulty taking some photos for this review because it reflected the light so well.
If you’re looking for a shiny phone then you will love it, although some may argue it is a dust and fingerprint magnet. Providing you keep the phone in the protective soft pouch then I don’t see this as a major problem. It helps to protect the screen from scratches too, although I don’t know how practical it is keeping the phone in a pouch all day, especially if you use the phone a lot.
This is what you get in the box. It includes ear phones, A/C charger, USB cable, PC sync software and soft carry case.
The phone is slim and lightweight, and certainly less bulky than the Sony Ericsson I own. The KF600 fitted well in the hand and was easy to handle. On one side of the phone are buttons for accessing the MP3 player and volume controls, and on the other side is a button for activating the camera. There is also a small plastic flap which when pulled back reveals the USB port.
The KF600 has 40Mb memory and supports a micro SD card (not supplied), although the SD card slot is positioned underneath the battery. This means if you want to swap out the SD card for another one then you will need to slide back the battery cover, remove the battery, and then change the SD card.
This seemed a strange arrangement to me. I would have preferred the SD card slot on the side of the phone. If you want to swap out the card regularly then you will find this a pain. Perhaps LG designed it this way with security in mind. With the SD card underneath the battery there is very little chance of losing it. I’m not sure, but I didn’t like it.
Switching on the phone for the first time I was impressed with the on screen controls. The screen looked bright, the controls looked quite funky, and the themes provided with the phone looked good. The KF600 is a slider phone with the phone keypad revealed by sliding back the screen. On the whole I thought LG had done very well in designing the visual side of the phone.
The touch screen controls on the InteractPad worked well for me. Occasionally I would have to press the touch screen controls more than once before it would accept it, but these were few and far between. There is an option to calibrate the touch screen should you encounter any issues like this.
Each button press on the InteractPad is confirmed with a beep and a small vibration. The vibration helps to confirm that a button has been pressed but I found it a little irritating after a while.
When navigating through the different phone screens, such as a setup menu, each list item is numbered so you can either press the down arrow on the touch screen repeatedly to get to the option you want, or you can type the item number of the option you want on the phone’s keypad. I liked this idea as it enabled me to quickly navigate through the phone rather than having to scroll through a long list of menu options.
One disappointment with the phone is the contacts list. The KF600 would only allow me to store one phone number per contact, which meant I had to add multiple contacts for the same person, one contact for their mobile, another contact for their landline, etc.
This made the contacts list look cluttered. The contacts list would show entries like “John Landline”, “John Mobile”, etc. I much prefer a single entry called “John” which holds both the landline and mobile numbers, like it does on my Sony Ericsson phone.
The KF600 comes with a decent 3 megapixel 4x digital zoom camera, which at the highest setting will take images at 2048×1536 pixel resolution.
Picture quality was good although I found the macro zoom disappointing. The camera had a tendency to focus on items just behind the intended item. The camera comes with an excellent set of features, such as multi-burst, which allows you to take up to 6 photos in quick succession. I found best results were obtained by focusing on an item that did not move much. If you try to photograph a fast moving image using multi-burst then the results were far from ideal.
The camera does not provide any audible indication when an item is in focus, I would have liked a beep noise, instead you need to rely on the screen alone and watch for the red box to turn green when an item is in focus. At first I found myself taking photos before they were in focus so it takes a bit of getting used to.
Other features include manual adjustment of the camera, such as white balance and flash. There are several special effects you can add to photos too like sepia and black and white for example. There are also standard settings available for different conditions such as indoor, outdoor and night time use which I liked. LG have also included an image stabiliser which is a nice touch.
The video camera worked pretty well, capturing video at a resolution of 230×240, so on a par with other mobile phones.
The KF600 has a slick looking MP3 player that performed pretty well. The sound from the built-in speakers is not on the same level as a dedicated MP3 player, but it is certainly acceptable, and no different to other mobile phones I’ve used. I also like how the InteractPad displays all the necessary icons to control the MP3 player. In the visuals department, the MP3 player looks a very nice looking device, the best I’ve seen on a phone so far.
There are several applications installed on the phone as you would expect with any phone these days. These include amongst other things an alarm clock, calendar, web browser, calculator, radio and a rather nifty looking world clock. It also supports handwriting recognition when using certain applications, although don’t expect it to work perfectly, it takes a bit of practice. Bluetooth is supported but there is no wi-fi or infrared capability.
The phone comes with LG PC Sync software which enables you to synchronise your phone with your PC. I’ve always found these types of program difficult to use, regardless of phone manufacture, and LG is no different. I tried several attempts to connect the phone to the computer using the USB cable, but the PC Sync software would not connect and after 30 minutes of trying I gave up.
3G is not supported on this phone, but I’m not a big fan of 3G anyway, and since I live in a 2G area this didn’t bother me at all.
The KF600 is tri-band so no problems if you want to take the phone to North America for example. It also supports a flight only mode which is useful for using when on board aircraft.
Battery life was as good as other phones I’ve used. I found myself charging the phone once or twice a week, although I am not a heavy phone user, so expect to charge the phone every couple of days if you use the phone regularly.
Overall this is an interesting phone. The InteractPad worked OK for me, although I had a tendency to try and touch the controls on the main screen which is not touch screen, and I found that a bit irritating at times. I would have preferred to have seen a full touch screen user interface. As such I found navigating around the phone OK but not brilliant. I’ve traditionally used joystick controls on mobile phones, like those on the Sony Ericsson, and I must admit I prefer that type of navigation. But that is just my personal preference.
If you’re into touch screens, and fancy a phone that is trying to stand out from the crowd, then the KF600 is certainly a phone worthy of a closer look. With great looks, a fully featured camera and MP3 player this phone is sure to please many.
A fully touchscreen version of this phone and LG could be onto a real winner. In fact LG have plans to release such a device later this year, called the LG Secret. I can’t wait for a closer look.
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