The LG Chocolate BL40 mobile phone is one of the oddest-looking handsets we've ever seen.
Tall and thin, the LG Chocolate BL40 resembles an older-style chocolate bar - perhaps the Wonka Bars from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Though there is no golden ticket here, unwrapping the Chocolate BL40 is a largely pleasant experience, though it is an unconventional phone.
The most striking feature of the LG Chocolate BL40 mobile phone is its design. It has an ultra-wide 4in screen with an aspect ratio of 21:9, so it's very long and thin. Despite the odd design, we found the Chocolate BL40 sat comfortably in our pocket, though it can be a stretch navigating the user interface at times.
The LG Chocolate BL40 mobile phone has a superb combination of build quality and design. LG has produced some questionable handsets in the past, but the Chocolate BL40 is very impressive. It uses a combination of piano black plastic, sleek chrome edging and an etched red top and bottom. The sleek black finish and large display attracts plenty of fingerprints but the screen looks superb - it's bright and clear, has excellent viewing angles and is responsive to touch. Further, the entire phone feels solid and extremely well built.
The Chocolate BL40 mobile phone runs LG's proprietary S-Class 3D user interface. It has four home screens that you can swipe through, offering access to shortcuts, widgets, contacts and multimedia. The graphics are rich, colourful and engaging and combined with the excellent display make the Chocolate BL40 a visual delight. We also loved the drop-down status bar - when you tap the status bar at the top of the screen, a menu allows you quickly turn Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and the alarm on and off, jump straight to the music player or the calendar and change the sound profiles.
It's not all about looks, though, and the S-Class UI isn't as intuitive as it should be. The included widgets aren't customisable and aside from the clock and calendar, aren't that useful. 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); 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 Chocolate BL40's phonebook offers one-touch access to all contact details, including being able to text message, video call and email contacts from a single screen. Though scrolling isn't terrible, it doesn't feel smooth and often appears jerky on the screen; it's mostly evident when you reach the end of a list. We also found moving back a screen in many menus requires a real stretch of your thumb due to the odd shape of the phone.
The LG Chocolate BL40's wide screen is excellent for watching video content, but it's rather unusual when browsing the web, viewing photos or using the included Google Maps application. The skinny screen often results in extra scrolling.
The LG Chocolate BL40's on-screen keyboard is surprisingly comfortable to use. The nature of the hardware design and the positioning of the on-screen keys means it's easy to hold with one or two hands. Rotating the Chocolate BL40 into landscape mode offers a full QWERTY keyboard, but we were able to type faster using the regular keypad with T9 predictive text input. The accelerometer is a little slow to activate and using the full QWERTY keyboard resulted in some minor keystroke lag.
The LG Chocolate BL40 has a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash. It also offers built-in GPS, a 3.5mm headphone jack, FM radio, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so it's not without features. The camera also doubles as a video recorder that can record at 30fps with a resolution of 640x480. The camera and video recorder are average for a mobile phone - it's hard to keep the Chocolate BL40 still when taking a photo, and the photos we took had excessive noise and questionable colour reproduction.
The Chocolate BL40 is quite a good multimedia phone thanks to its 3.5mm headphone jack. A built-in FM transmitter is great for use in the car or the home, while the built-in speakers are quite loud, even outdoors. Google Maps, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter applications are all included and accessible from the applications menu.
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