- Reasonable features list, Display, Music player, 3.5mm headphone jack adapter
- Performance of scroll wheel, Battery life
The U400 offers a new control system but its performance isn't really up to scratch. The handset has a solid, if not outstanding list of features, but a poor battery life and chunky design don't do it any favours.
Price$ 549.00 (AUD)
A mobile phone with an iPod like scroll wheel? No, it's not an Apple product, but rather LG's new 3G mobile handset. Exclusive to 3 Mobile, the U400 offers a scroll wheel control system, quality crystal clear display and comfortable keypad. It is a solid mid-range product, but the new control system is not as intuitive as it should be and the bulky design leaves a lot to be desired.
We've seen joysticks, navigational pads and even touch pads, but the U400 is the first phone we've reviewed with a scroll wheel. Unfortunately, while the idea is good in theory, LG's implementation of this could use a little work. For starters, the scroll wheel doesn't sit in the centre of the phone - it is pushed towards the left hand side and this places the selection buttons off centre. For example, the answer key is located where the right selection key usually is, so it takes a lot of time to get used to. After two days of use, we were still pressing the answer key to access the Planet 3 menu. We can't understand why LG just didn't position the scroll wheel in the centre of the handset as this would have made its operation much simpler.
Secondly, the scroll wheel is less than intuitive as it does not feel smooth or comfortable. Scrolling often has mixed results, with the wheel sometimes jumping two or three lines with one spin, yet other times not moving at all. This makes basic usage like navigating the menu a trial as you constantly wind up on the wrong item or icon.
The wheel is surrounded by two selection buttons, a menu key, answer and end call buttons (the latter doubling as a power button) as well as a clear/lock key. These keys were fairly responsive although they are quite small, so those with larger fingers may have some difficulties operating the U400. A volume key on the left hand side of the handset and a dedicated camera button and music key on the right round out the U400's controls.
The handset has a slide design and measuring 100mm x 50mm x 20mm it is quite chunky. In particular, the top half of the rear has enlarged corners and we feel this detracts from the overall look and feel of the unit. Despite this, the gloss black finish looks quite good, although it does have a habit of picking up finger prints. At 113g the phone is fairly lightweight so you shouldn't have to worry about being weighed down.
Perhaps one of the best features of the U400 is the display. A 2in QVGA (240 x 320 pixels) screen, the display is bright and clear and is especially good for viewing photographs taken by the phone's camera or for watching video clips. While it is let down by a poor viewing angle, its performance in direct sunlight was quite impressive. Also pleasing was the keypad. Comfortable, raised keys ensure SMS messaging at high speeds is not a problem and those with large fingers should be able to type with ease.
The U400 features a dedicated music player and it supports a range of file formats including AAC, AAC+, AMR, MP3, MIDI, MP4, WAV and WMA. Unfortunately there is no playlist support, but LG include a preset equaliser as well as an adapter that allows you to use any set of standard 3.5mm headphones with the U400. Furthermore, the adapter has a reasonably long cord and comes with a remote attached that allows you to answer and end calls, as well as adjust music volume and skip, stop, pause and play music tracks, all without removing the phone from your pocket. LG do include headphones of their own, but they are uncomfortable and suffer from poor sound quality, so we advise you use your own.
The U400 also comes equipped with a 2 megapixel camera that can snap photos up to a 1600 x 1200 resolution. Its performance is average for a camera phone, so it's certainly not good enough to replace a standalone digital camera, but the photos are suitable to use as phone wallpapers or sending via SMS messages. That said the U400 camera includes a number of excellent features such as the ability to adjust brightness levels, white balance settings, night mode, a three, five or 10 second timer and black and white and sepia effects. Unfortunately there is no flash though and the included light isn't really an adequate replacement.
There is also a VGA camera on the front of the handset for 3G video calling, although this can also be used for portrait photos by selecting it in the settings menu. You can save your photos using the fairly generous 52MB of internal memory, or alternatively, the U400 offers a microSD card slot on the left side of the handset. There is no included SD card in the sales package so you'll have to factor the purchase of this into your budget.
The U400 includes Bluetooth and USB connectivity (a USB cable is included in the sales package), but no infrared. There are also polyphonic ring tones, a hands-free speakerphone, SMS, MMS and e-mail messaging (with T9 predictive text input), WAP 2.0 and Java support. The hands free speakerphone is unconventionally activated by holding down the clear key and although it worked well for most part, the volume could have been louder at its highest setting.
Unfortunately, the U400 suffers from poor battery life. According to LG, the battery is rated at a disappointing 133 hours of standby time and approximately 148 minutes of talk time. During testing we found ourselves charging the handset about every two nights, which is slightly below average. If you use the features such as the camera and music player regularly, this figure will further decrease.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Google Daydream VR headset
Lexar® Portable SSD
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Huawei Mate 9
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Acer Swift 7
Surface Pro 4
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- Samsung unveils Bixby voice assistant for upcoming Galaxy S8
- BlackBerry readies a more secure version of the Samsung Galaxy S7
- Android device updates: Nougat rollout begins for the Moto Z Play
- Android device updates: Nougat is coming to the Moto G4, G4 Plus
- Beyond smartphones, Samsung wants its Exynos 9 chip in VR headsets
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Behind the scenes with Team Walkinshaw at V8 Supercars Melbourne 2017
- And the 2017 winner of the Formula 1 Best Pit Lane Boom Gantry is...
- First look at the Formula 1 2017 pit lane in Melbourne, Australia
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- FTSenior System/Network EngineerACT
- FTAdministrator - Land and PowerNSW
- FTSenior Developer/DevOpsVIC
- FTPHP DeveloperACT
- FTDatabase Modelling SpecialistNSW
- FTL&D ConsultantVIC
- TPProject SchedulerVIC
- FTSenior Android DeveloperNSW
- FTTechnical Consultant - SQL Server programming skillsACT
- FTProject ManagerACT
- CCWintel Engineers - NV1ACT
- CCAgile CoachNSW
- CCDeployment GraduatesSA
- FTProduct Manager - FintechNSW
- FTSenior Business Analyst - Data Warehouse/ Statistical projectNSW
- TPLead TesterNSW
- FTPHP DeveloperNSW
- TPJunior Business AnalystQLD
- TPGIS Officer | Map InfoQLD
- FTSeeking all Java Developers!SA
- CCBusiness Analyst Team LeadNSW
- FTDevops EngineerVIC
- CCDomino SpecialistVIC
- CCSAP BPC SME/Consultant - BRISBANE BASEDQLD