LG recently released the successor to their low-price, touch screen and very popular LG Cookie phone in the form of the LG Cookie Fresh (GS290).
If first impressions are anything to go by, it appears to be an extension of the three main criteria that governed the original Cookie: low cost, fun to use and of course a touchscreen.
These three points (along with all round competence) is what has made the Cookie popular among mostly the younger demographic and that is who LG are hoping to target again with this new edition to the line up… but will it live up to the precedent of popularity that the original set?
It starts well as the phone definitely looks the part: whilst you could argue that the slim form looks a little cheap with the plastic casing that is only really in comparison to more expensive phones and by itself you can’t really fault it. In fact the matte finish is quite nice especially with the coloured accents (available in blue, white and pink) which manage to add an element of fun and variety without looking tacky.
The LG Cookie Fresh also has the spec. to match its big brother, with a 240×300 pixel 3 inch touch screen managing to fit in the slender form. The 3.5 mm jack hole allows for the use of your own headphones which is great to see as ever; as is the inclusion of a micro USB slot. There is space to increase the internal memory with a micro SD card which is well hidden behind a sturdy ‘pull out’ cover which sits flush to the phone.
Also on the right side of the phone are two shortcut keys which do a good job of making your life that little bit easier. It’s slightly larger than the original Cookie but is much more aesthetically pleasing and, despite the budget price tag of £79.99, it’s a stylish and tidy feature phone – without it getting into the realms of being a fully blown smartphone such as the HTC Desire or the iPhone 4.
When I first encountered the multi-screen interface I was surprised by the huge number of icons on the main menu screen. All 32 options span two pages and are marked under four subunits: Communication, entertainment, utilities and settings. This makes the menu feel cluttered and somewhat disorganized and, until you get a real feel for the phone, it is rather confusing and difficult to use.
There are three different “screens” for the Livesquare, Speed dial and Home screen and although in theory the fact that you can slide across the screen to swap between them is nice, in practise the cluttered nature of the pages and the fact that the screen is far from brilliant means that often you end up dragging things across the screen instead of switching screens as you intended to.
One major advantage of the GS290 is how easy it is to customize the home screen with widgets and apps. There are three key shortcuts that can be dragged onto the screen from the taskbar, including calendar, facebook and weather apps which are nice to have and (a bit of a godsend) easy to set up.
For me the speed dial screen was seemingly pointless as, although it is extremely easy to customize and organize, it was just as fast to find the contact through the usual contacts menu.
The Livesquare screen is a fun and visual way to organize your recent contact history. The ability to assign contacts their own avatar and “land” to live in reinforces the continuing idea that the phone truly is designed for the individual user, rather than the mass market. The Livesquare is incredibly simple to use and allows you to manage multiple interactions all at once and of course highlights the fact that this phone really is aimed at the younger market: I dare you to go into a boardroom with Livequare on!
Disappointingly, the GS290 only sports a 2 megapixel camera which, although takes both still images and videos, does match the technology that is available on the market at this current moment in time.
Predictably, the software gives the user the ability to change the limited settings of the camera but is simple and uncomplicated to use. The camera is also lacking a flash and so night time photos, although there is an option to change to the “Night” setting, are of an inadequately poor quality which does not match the expectations of the phone.
This is a bit of a letdown and does slightly damage the social networking credibilities of the phone and it really is simply for quick snaps than for anything even vaguely complicated or detailed.
This is the area in which the phone was intended for, and it shows. The input methods are varied with the keyboard available as both QWERTY or Keypad. Or you can use the impressively accurate handwriting interface which rarely failed to recognize my (fairly poor) handwriting.
There is a Facebook widget available for use on the home screen (which makes it a good Facebook Phone) and through the social network menu, you can gain access to both Twitter and Myspace. The connection speed is very much dependent on your network provider and location as with all phones, but I was impressed by the speed in which the applications worked for me. All three are delivered using the “mobile view” which I find slightly irritating seeing as the phone has been designed to use these sites but fussiness aside, the GS290 really does fit the bill as a social networking device.
I must admit, I’ve never been a huge fan of phones from LG, but the GS290 has really impressed me. Despite the crowded main menu screen and below par camera, the phone itself is a really tidy little device. It certainly doesn’t look or feel cheap and the seemingly limitless possibilities for customization make the LG Cookie Fresh (GS290) a real gem of a low-cost phone.
You will never be without contact to the virtual world with this phone either as the social networking options, although not as versatile as one might like, are both uncomplicated and practical. If you are looking for an understated, cheap and practical little phone, then I highly recommend the LG Cookie Fresh (GS290).