The original LG Chocolate proved pretty popular when it was released, and despite the fact that it was new a good few years ago you still see a few of them around – mostly because of its looks which remain pretty stylish. Well now the LG Chocolate (BL40) is back in a totally different form.
Ditching the slider design (which seems to have fallen out of fashion recently) it has unsurprisingly moved to the touchscreen option, and if you’re thinking that it looks slightly odd you’re 100% correct because it uses a distinctive 4” 21:9 aspect ratio touchscreen which promises to enhance your multimedia viewing and generally help to produce a great phone.
We’ll move onto the screen in a bit, but firstly it’s worth having a quick look at the design of the LG Chocolate (BL40), which even considering the preceding version’s success is very impressive as we saw at the LG Chocolate Launch Event. Whilst the irregular size makes it look at little ungainly at first the smooth glossy finish on both sides results in a very classy looking phone – enhanced by the touch of colour provided on the bottom.
Moving onto quite possibly the most important aspect of the phone (i.e. the screen) and you can’t help but admire the quality on offer. The screen is bright and sufficiently endowed with pixels (a resolution of 800×345) to provide a great picture, especially when watching movies in the format they were intended, and the added space you get when held horizontally also comes in handy with the menu and of course when browsing as you can actually get the full width on the screen at one time.
Unfortunately there are a few drawbacks, 21:9 is far from the most popular format for videos so you will have to either encode all your movies appropriately or suffer black edges, and although the ability to see the whole width of a web page is nice you’ll find yourself constantly scrolling up and down which can get a little annoying. You will also have to deal with the extra handset height – and although it may seem significantly bigger in most pockets it will still sit in snugly (there are of course a few exceptions!).
Moving onto the user interface and things start to get a little more unimpressive. The BL40 runs LG’s S-Class interface (recently featured on the LG Crystal, LG Arena and LG Renoir handsets) which has been tweaked slightly – you still have the same nice well designed icons, rotating 3D menu cube and neat animations all of which is easy and quick to use with the touchscreen.
However there are a couple of major faults with the UI – for a start its way too confusing, and there are far too many different ways to get to the same thing which is ultimately pointless and time wasting. Also despite the fact that the phone is perfectly quick at most things when trying to do certain tasks (like accessing the memory card) it can take a painfully long time.
But you don’t really get too hung up over that, especially when you look at the features LG have crammed into the phone – from the ability to open applications from the ‘lock’ screen by drawing symbols to the wealth of connectivity options the LG Chocolate is pretty well endowed; the latter of the two is particularly impressive with quad band, GPS, HDSPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Wireless FM transmission.
It also has a pretty nifty camera with 5 megapixels resolution, autofocus and LED flash, and whilst the flash is a little weak at night, in good light the pictures are of pretty good quality, and the panoramic option is both easy and fun to use!
So that’s the LG Chocolate BL40, and it’s a bit of a mixed bag. One the one hand it looks great, has a good array of features and the camera is pretty good, but equally the UI is annoying and the battery life is relatively poor, and for the same sort of price you could be looking at much better phones form the likes of Blackberry, HTC and even Apple.
But it would be very unfair to discard this as ‘not up to scratch’ as it does bring something genuinely new to the table with the 4” screen, and this is something that we could well see replicated soon hopefully with a few key improvements!