Boasting an 8Mp camera with an LED flash and Schneider-Kreuznach lens, LG's Viewty Smart is the second mobile phone to feature LG's S-Class 3D user interface, first seen on the LG Arena. Don't be fooled by the name though, as this isn't a smartphone.
The Viewty brand is an evolution of the original Viewty, launched back in 2007. The design of the LG Viewty Smart mobile phone is comparable to the iPhone 3GS, though its slightly smaller and the edges are sharp and striking rather than round.
The gloss black finish on the front contrasts nicely with the brushed silver finish on the sides and rear. The LG Viewty Smart is much lighter than the iPhone, though it doesn't feel as sturdy. It's solid enough and there are no loose parts or creaking panels, but the iPhone is much more polished - we aren't a fan of the volume and shortcut buttons, which aren't raised enough.
The LG Viewty Smart has a capacitive touchscreen and it's very responsive. It can be hard to see outdoors in direct sunlight, but fingerprints are easily wiped off and viewing angles are excellent. Colour and sharpness in particular are outstanding, making this one of the best screens on a mobile phone we've seen to date.
The LG Viewty Smart mobile phone runs LG's proprietary S-Class 3D user interface. The main component of the system is a 3D cube that provides four customisable home screens for access to shortcuts, widgets, contacts and multimedia. Unfortunately, on Telstra's Next G version of the Viewty Smart which we reviewed, the shortcut menu is filled with Telstra shortcuts (such as BigPond, Mobile Foxtel and Yellow Pages) and these can't be edited.
The graphics of the S-Class interface are rich, colourful and engaging. Unfortunately, the other menus - widgets, contacts and multimedia - aren't as intuitive as the shortcut menu. The widgets aren't customisable and, aside from the clock and calendar, aren't very appealing.
Both the contacts and multimedia menus are inspired by a Rolodex: contacts are displayed in a half-circle, rotating format (though you can also choose a more traditional row format), and music, images and videos are accessible from the multimedia menu. We liked the fact that simply tapping a song from the list automatically plays it, but we found scrolling through items using this method a little sluggish.
The LG Viewty Smart's regular phonebook offers one-touch access to all contact details, including being able to text message, video call, and e-mail contacts from a single screen. Text-input is an issue. The on-screen keyboard looks comfortable at first glance, but there is a slight delay between pressing the keys and the letters appearing on the screen, so trying to type too quickly results in letters being missed. A built-in accelerometer means rotating holding the phone sideways displays a full qwerty keyboard, but we much prefer typing in portrait orientation using T9 predictive text.
At the heart of the LG Viewty Smart is an 8Mp camera with LED flash and Schneider-Kreuznach lens, hence the "Viewty" name. The camera's interface is almost identical to that of the Arena, though the settings menu is new - it's a rotating dial similar to those found on regular digital cameras. Although it certainly looks good, it's slow to navigate.
Using the rest of the camera functions is a simple affair. An on-screen slider on the left switches between photo and video recording and a row of commonly used settings are found on the left of the display, including scene, flash and macro functions. The LED flash is almost useless in dark conditions, though photos in good light are quite impressive for a camera phone.
The LG Viewty Smart has plenty of appeal as a multimedia device, with Dolby Mobile and DivX support, though it's completely let down by the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack. Instead, LG uses a proprietary headphone and charging jack. According to LG, the reason for this is to distinguish the Viewty Smart as an imaging device to the Arena which is a multimedia device. Our thoughts? Any self-respecting mobile phone should have a standard headphone jack.
The Viewty Smart suffers the same issues as the LG Arena when it comes to the included mobile browser. Its difficult to select links, touches are often a hit and miss affair and the it's difficult to position the cursor when trying to select text.
The LG Viewty Smart has 1.5GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot that theoretically supports cards of up to 32GB. The phone also offers Wi-Fi, built-in GPS with geotagging capabilities, and is a HSDPA 7.2Mbps capable device. Strangely, LG's newly announced application store isn't compatible with the Viewty Smart.
The LG Viewty Smart is available on Vodafone, O2 and Orange in the UK.
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