The KF600 is the new midrange phone from LG that has already won the iF product design award for 2008.
My sample was kindly provided by LG Blog, the official blog from LG. It is available now for free on selected plans on Orange and T-Mobile. You can also get it sim free from various sites like Play.Com for around £220-£260.
It is a tri-band slider with a dual screen, the smaller of the screens is a 1.5inch 240×176 pixel touch screen and the larger one is normal a 2inch 320 x 240 pixel screen.
The smaller touch screen has been marketed as the InteractPad and essentially acts as a replacement to the more traditional navigation and function buttons found on mobiles.
The other features include:
- 3 Megapixel Camera with video and flash
- 256k colour displays
- Touch-sensitive lower display including 256K colours
- MP3/WMA/AAC/AAC+ player
- Ringtones – Polyphonic and MP3
- EDGE: Class 10, 236.8 kbps
- GPRS: Class 10 (4+1/3+2 slots), 32 – 48 kbps
- Bluetooth: v2.0
- USB: v2.0
- Messaging: SMS, EMS, MMS, Email
- Vibration Alert
- Built-in handsfree
- 64 MB internal memory
- Memory Card Slot: microSD (TransFlash)
- Weight: 107 grams
- Dimensions: 101 x 50 x 15.7 mm
- Battery Stand-by: Up to 480 hours
- Battery Talk Time: Up to 4 hours
- Office document viewer
- Voice memo
When the slider is not extended the only hard buttons are a camera button used for the camera and also to unlock the phone, another to launch the MP4 player, and a rocker for volume controls.
My initial impression of the InteractPad was a money saving exercise by LG as touch screens cost more and this phone is a mid range model. However after using it for a while I have been quite impressed. The important thing to realise is that this is not a cheap alternative for a full touch screen but a intelligent replacement for hardware buttons. If we look at the LG Shine the navigation is handled by a roller and 2 hard buttons, therefore to access most of the phones functions it requires a physical click on the menu button, then find the application/function you want and a click into it. As the KF600 uses a screen it can offer dynamic options and therefore I have 6 options rather than just 2 as soon as I open the phone. Ok I know it is being lazy when I like the fact it requires less clicks to achieve something but it is a usability improvement which is always good.
The only slight issue I had with the InteractPad is that it was not quite as intuitive at a full touch screen. When you get to the main menu you want to click on the actual icons rather than select them with the InteractPad. Once you realise this it becomes quite easy, you can slide your finger to scroll through menus rather than just tap the screen so navigation can be quite fast and simple.
As this is a mid range phone at first I had expected LG to leave the haptic feedback of the touch screen off, however reassuring vibrate is still there when you tap an icon.
When you slide out the keypad on the KF600 you are greeted with a rather good looking keypad. The advantage of this keypad is that it makes sending texts much easier. While the Viewty is not as you might expect when sending messages it still is not perfect, I quite frequently mis-hit the screen getting the wrong letter/word and therefore being able to use a real keypad is a pleasant addition. Another small feature of the keypad I liked was its reassuringly firm slide. On the LG Slide I used I found the sliding out keypad to be a bit springy, so much so it almost feels like it could dislodge the battery or something so the KF600 is much more improved on this.
The itself is very attractive and uses the Black styling of the Viewty etc. It has a matt black rear, silver edges and a shiny black screen. The phone comes with various different themes, with 5 of them being based on Keith Haring designs. The themes are very nice and use both the main screen and the InteractPad.
The phone comes with the usual set of applications you would expect to find. This includes:
- 2 Games (both making the most of the InteractPad)
- Alarm Clock
- FM Radio
- Memo Maker
- Stop Watch
- Unit Converter
- Voice Recorder
- World Clock
The music player on the phone is a similar set up to the Viewty. The player itself good, it allows you to create playlists, set to shuffle and change the equaliser settings. As with my Viewty review I did not have a decent quality pair of earphones to see what the quality was really like. Unfortunately you are required to use the LG connector to attach a normal pair of earphones to the phone. This is a pet peeve of mine as I have a tenancy to lose little things like this but it is quite a common issue with most phones. The memory card is awkward to get to as you need to remove the battery to get access to it, this shouldn’t really be to much of a problem unless the card pops out when walking which I sometimes found with my Viewty. I think this could be a problem with my buying cheap memory cards rather than an issue with the phone itself.
The camera on the phone is 3-megapixels and the flash is decent enough to take pictures in the dark though this is not a xenon flash. You can also mess about with the various settings including white balance, timer, shake reduction, multi shot, auto focus, colour effect, quality and resolution. It is definitely not as good at the Viewty camera but again this is a mid range phone so it is to be expected. I think the biggest let down is the lack of a xenon flash.
Call quality and battery life were good. I got a couple of days out of the phone, though I probably did not charge it up fully before I started to play with it.
I think overall the phone is very good, especially for a mid range phone. I think Sim free it is in the same price range as the Nokia 6500 Classic but offers more functionality and a bit of a quirky side to it. Obviously the deciding factor when buying this phone is the InteractPad and I would suggest trying it at a store before buying it. I can imagine for a lot of people it is a love or hate thing. For me personally I would not say I love it but I do like it and it provides a pleasant break from the norm.