Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- Display Screens, Build Quality, Features List, Price
- Average Camera Quality, Keypad
A solid handset which offers plenty of features in a stylish and competitive package. Definitely worth a look.
Price$ 459.00 (AUD)
Sharing a remarkable resemblance to the U880, the LG U890 improves on its counterpart by adding a stylish keypad and a glossy display screen to an already enticing package.
Design and Form Factor
Previous LG video phones have been quite bulky. The U890 bucks this trend and is a stylish handset with a slim profile that cups nicely in your hand. Its silver and blue colour scheme is attractive and the flip mechanism feels sturdy, but best of all the U890 weighs just 99 grams. The unit has a distinctive shape and our overall impressions are that of a solid and well built handset; this is critical, especially with flip phones.
Flipped open, the U890 reveals a stylish keypad which bears an uncanny resemblance to Motorola's RAZR V3. The keys are very flat and have a brushed aluminum finish which looks attractive. Although they are more tactile than those on the RAZR V3, we still prefer keypads to be slightly raised, as this provides a much more comfortable user experience. The U890's keys also require a pretty firm press to activate, so you'll need some patience.
The U890 has an external display which shows time, date, battery life and reception. Beneath the external screen are three media buttons (Previous, Play/Stop, Next) to control the phone's MP3 player when it is close. This is a convenient feature if you plan to make a lot of use out of the phone's MP3 functionality.
Despite being thin for a 3G handset, LG has managed to squeeze quite a bit onto the U890's exterior: a proprietary headphone jack and volume controls on the left hand side and a dedicated camera button, microSD slot and a well hidden charger/USB socket on the right.
Display and Controls
The U890 display is crisp and clear and has an excellent viewing angle. It does a relatively good job with photos and video and the Planet 3 multimedia content we viewed on it had no issues. The U890's controls are well spaced out and both general use and SMS messaging are simple. There's a 5-way navigational pad with shortcut keys, two selection buttons, Back and Clear Keys and Answer and End call buttons. On the top row of the keypad are shortcut keys for video calling, Planet 3 and Menu. The navigational pad does get a little cramped, especially when scrolling through long menu items.
The main menu uses a 3 x 4 grid system of animated menu icons. Speed wasn't an issue, the U890 was responsive and did not lag even when scrolling through items quickly. Menu shortcuts were also available and these were accessed using the keypad.
The U890 has a 1.3 megapixel camera mounted on a rotating hinge; which means the camera serves a dual purpose (video calling and taking photos). This design is practical considering the dual use functions, but it isn't perfect. Our main complaint with the camera is that its last position on the rotating hinge does not sit flush with the back of the handset. So, if you are taking photos other than portrait shots, the lens sits on an angle.
The camera has plenty of features including image resolutions ranging from 1280x960 to 96x96, 2x digital zoom, a self timer, exposure settings and white balance (Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Illuminate, Indoors). Unfortunately there isn't a flash, instead just night mode. This is barely useable without some sort of light, so it's not an adequate replacement. The camera is pretty standard and the images produced are certainly not good enough to replace a stand alone digital camera.
The U890 comes standard with Bluetooth and USB connectivity and a USB cable is included in the sales package. There is also polyphonic ring tones, a hands-free speakerphone, SMS, MMS and e-mail messaging (with T9 predictive text input), WAP 2.0, Java games and a microSD (previously known as TransFlash) slot for increased memory options.
The speakerphone is activated by holding down the Clear key for about two seconds. It worked well although the volume could have been louder at its highest setting. Despite the presence of the microSD slot, the U890 still includes a good 68Mb of internal memory.
The U890's battery is rated at 130 hours of standby time and five hours of talk time. During testing we found ourselves charging the handset about every three nights, which is pretty impressive considering the multimedia functions the U890 provides.
The U890 is available exclusively through the 3 Mobile network in Australia and is a solid entry into the market. It provides a reasonable list of features in a stylish package for a very competitive price.
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The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.
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