Back in June, we brought you a preview of the LG Crystal as well as the video preview, and now that it’s been released and we thought we’d have another look and see if the LG Crystal has lived up to expectations.
These expectations were understandably quite high, as they are generally for any phone released by one of the big manufacturers these days, but especially because this was the first phone to have a transparent keypad; however those laurels would not be enough and LG will have had to back up this with some good features to make it worthwhile. So have they? Read on!
The most obvious place to start is with the keypad which is easily the most distinguishing feature, and one that makes it first outing here on the LG Crystal – with regards to looks there is no denying that it is an eye turner and looks rather cool when you first see it, this is that little ‘je ne sais quoi’ that is needed to make a good phone great.
Unfortunately this also means that the keys are flat which although it will annoy many are actually not too bad to use and you can get up to quite a good speed on them — the additional touch control niceties offered by the pad also allow you to easily sweep through photos, or up to view information as well as having a shortcut gesture system and this is a nice addition to a generally impressive keypad.
However, and please don’t get me wrong I’m not shunning see-through tech, it didn’t take me long to start asking myself what is the point? I know that I’ve never thought “Oh, this phone is great, but it really annoys me that I can’t see the front of my hand through the phone when I’m texting”, and I’m fairly sure that I’m not in a minority. Sure it’s good to see technology moving forward, but if it involves price hikes (of the likes seen here [which I’ll address in a minute]) I’m not sure that it’s worth it!
Moving onto perhaps the more important aspects of the phone and we see that fortunately, the Crystal is more than just a novelty keypad. For a start it incorporates the S-class 3D user interface which is both pretty and very usable on both the keypad and the touchscreen; this is actually relatively impressive considering that the phone has a keypad as well.
Obviously there isn’t a whole lot of space to work with, but despite that the QWERTY keyboard is really the only thing that feels cramped on the 3” 800×480 screen which is pretty sharp and is pretty nice to use for both navigating and browsing – the touchscreen itself also has iPhone-like “pinch” gesturing for functions such as zooming in and out which was good to see as it’s becoming a more natural thing to try on touchscreen devices.
Internet Browsing and Other Features
The quality of internet browsing is often pretty variable with phones, and this one is no exception. The ability to use the touch-keypad as a cursor (double tapping to choose a link) as well as the touchscreen worked really well as both were surprisingly effective, and a good selection of websites, especially those formatted for mobiles, worked perfectly but you’ll always find the odd exception which fails that might be irritating as it is always the one that you most want to view at that moment in time.
As far as the rest of the features go they are pretty standard — the battery has a perfectly acceptable life (much better than an iPhone), there’s an accelerometer, WiFi (although unfortunately no GPS), Google Maps and the usual selection of games and little applications (calendar, stopwatch, the like).
There is also (obviously) a camera present, and at 8-megapixels it isn’t bad at all, in fact, it takes some pretty good photos to rival some dedicated digital cameras! With an LED flash, autofocus, various shooting options, a self-portrait mirror and some editing features, but when you throw in the impressive video camera option too, then this makes for a great device to carry in your pocket to capture those memorable moments.
Overall, yeah this is a good phone, and one with that little bit extra that have it knocking on the doors of great — but unfortunately there are a few key problems. One is that, in my eyes, the see-through keypad essentially adds £100-£150 to the cost of the phone (at around £350 PAYG) but offers little back except for the ability to watch the floor as you type your text. Admittedly that is a little cynical, and if this cost £100 less I would be singing its praises as it is a really good phone.
Alternatively, if you’re a contract mobile phone user and looking for a good, stylish handset with plenty of features, then the LG Crystal must surely be one worth looking at as I’m sure the cost issues would be absorbed by the contract and you’ll be able to pick this up on a good deal.