LG Chocolate (U830)
- HSDPA capable, sleek and stylish design, bright and clear displays, good sound quality and above average headphones, excellent hands-free speakerphone
- No memory card slot, below average camera, poor implementation of touch sensitive media controls, poor battery life
Although the U830's stylish design and solid features are a welcome addition to the HSDPA market, they are ultimately let down by very a poor battery life
Price$ 598.00 (AUD)
LG has continued its 'Chocolate' range of mobile phones with the release of the HSDPA capable U830, a successor to the KG800 (Chocolate). The form factor has changed from a slider to a clamshell, and the number of touch sensitive controls has been reduced, but the overall look and style of the previous model remain. With a 2 megapixel camera, touch sensitive media pad, external display and video calling, the 3 Mobile exclusive U830 isn't short of features.
In-call quality is excellent, and we were very impressed with the volume level. The hands-free speakerphone in particular was one of the loudest we've heard, and is still usable, even with background noise such as busy, city traffic. The U830 has standard SMS, MMS and Email messaging, with T9 predictive text input, and also includes WAP 2.0 and JAVA 2.0.
The U830 uses dual cameras. The first is an internal VGA camera for video calling and portrait photos, and the second is an external 2 megapixel camera. Photos can be snapped at resolutions between 176x144 to 1600x1200, and video recorded at either 320x240 or 176x144. Photos taken with the U830 suffer from the same issues sommon to most phone-cameras, including excessive image noise and poor colour reproduction. Despite this, the camera has plenty of options including a multi-shot mode, 2x digital zoom, a three, five, or ten second self-timer, as well as the ability to adjust brightness and white balance. The camera also includes a night mode and light, but we found both virtually useless without a decent level of ambient lighting.
The original KG800 (Chocolate) had touch sensitive controls for navigation, but the U830 uses just three touch sensitive media playback controls (previous, play/pause, next) located on the front of the phone, just below the screen. These controls are dormant until manually activated by pressing the volume control button, and return to an inactive state within a few seconds if not used. We found this to be an unnecessarily cumbersome system. We also had trouble with tactility, as not every touch of the buttons registered on the phone.
The music player is average, offering play list support, but no equaliser settings. Sound quality is quite impressive though, and the included headphones produce a reasonable sound. The headphones use a proprietary connection, so users won't be able to plug their own headphones into the U830. The media player supports MP3, AAC and AAC+ files. Users can save their music tracks and photos to the very generous 184MB of internal memory, but there is no memory slot for extra storage.
The U830 has Bluetooth 2.0 and USB 2.0 connectivity. A USB cable is included in the sales package and there is also support for the A2DP Bluetooth profile, allowing the streaming of music to a compatible pair of Bluetooth headphones or other accessories.
The U830 is certainly a stylish phone and this is largely thanks to its colour scheme and sleek curves. A gloss-black, mirror finish on the front, combined with chrome edging give this handset a touch of class. The bright red media controls also look excellent when they are activated. The phone measures 98mm x 49mm x 14.8mm and weighs 93g, so it's one of the smallest and lightest HSDPA phones to hit the market.
The keypad and controls are flat, but despite this, they are very comfortable to use and typing quick messages isn't a problem. Controls consist of a five-way navigation pad with dedicated shortcuts, two selection buttons, answer/end call keys and dedicated buttons for back, clear/speakerphone, video calling, music and menu.
The U830's clamshell design means it has two displays. The main, internal screen is a 262K colour TFT with a resolution of 240x320 pixels, while the external display on the front is a 65K colour TFT with a resolution of 128x160 pixels. Both displays are excellent and are very bright and clear, although the external screen is difficult to read in direct sunlight due to the mirror surface. This surface makes the U830 difficult to keep free of fingerprints and smudges, so much so that LG has included a handy screen wipe accessory in the sales package.
Battery life is a major disappointment, rated at a paltry two hours of talk time and only 180 hours of standby time. We had to charge the U830 every single night during testing. The battery life will also diminish significantly when the MP3 player and camera functions are used regularly.
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