Boasting a 5Mp camera, Wi-Fi, 7.2Mbps HSDPA connectivity and an FM radio, you could be forgiven for thinking LG's latest flagship handset, the LG GD880 Mini, is a smartphone.
Technically it isn't one, but the LG GD880 Mini has a number of smartphone-like features, including multitouch technology, over-the-air synchronisation and a variety of social connectivity features wrapped up in an attractive and stylish casing. It's a shame, then, that LG's proprietary S-Class user interface offers questionable performance.
With a combination of matte black and brushed metal, the LG GD880 Mini is certainly an attractive mobile phone. Its flat edges and sharp corners give it a rather different look and feel to most other mobiles on the market. We are generally a fan of its square, box-shaped design, though the edges do tend to dig into your hands and pocket at times. Despite its name suggesting otherwise the LG Mini isn't a tiny smartphone, but its long and not overly wide design sits neatly in the palm of your hand.
The LG GD880 Mini doesn't possess an AMOLED display, but its 3.2in display is one of the brightest in its class, producing crisp, vibrant colours. The oddly shaped screen is long and skinny, making it appear smaller than it actually is. Viewing angles are reasonably good, while the LG Mini's performance in direct sunlight is passable, if not outstanding.
The LG GD880 Mini runs an updated version of LG's S-Class user interface. The S-Class UI has always been attractive, but it hasn't alway been effective or a smooth performer — unfortunately, it's the same story with the Mini. In particular, we found scrolling hit and miss compared with the smoothness of the Apple iPhone 4 and Android smartphones, while selecting certain icons or commands often required more than one finger tap.
The main component of S-Class is the three, customisable widget-based homescreens. You can add a number of widgets, bookmarks and shortcuts to each screen, including RSS feeds, Facebook and Twitter apps and Google search bar. As a result, the interface is quite flexible for a closed operating system. Widgets are limited and even though you can download extra ones (including Amazon and eBay shortcuts), the LG GD880 Mini obviously lacks the range of applications available on true smartphone platforms.
The graphics of the S-Class interface are once again rich, colourful and engaging, while the LG GD880 Mini'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. Text messaging is an issue: in regular orientation, the LG GD880 Mini only has a numeric keypad with T9 predictive text input, while rotating to landscape brings up a full QWERTY keyboard with tiny keys. Though the haptic feedback helps, we wouldn't recommend the LG Mini if you are a heavy texter.
The LG GD880 Mini comes with built-in Twitter and Facebook applications, and both have widgets that can be placed on the home screen. The apps are fairly basic but do offer access to most key features, such as status updates, tweeting, setting favourite tweets, viewing your profile, commenting on status updates and sending private messages; more advanced tasks, including accessing groups, sends you to the mobile browser.
The LG GD880 Mini has a 5-megapixel, autofocus camera, supports Microsoft Exchange email, has built-in GPS and can synchronise your calendar, messages, email, contacts and more over the air using LG's free Air Sync service (which is currently still in beta). Unlike many previous LG phones, the Mini's camera interface is snappy (especially considering the limitations of the UI elsewhere), making it easy to take a quick snap. A 3.5mm headphone jack and standard micro-USB port for charging or connecting to a PC are welcome features.
The LG GD880 Mini's mobile web browser looks excellent on the crisp display, but the smaller display makes it difficult to select links. Multitouch technology means you can pinch the screen to zoom like you can on the iPhone, but the process isn't as smooth or effective; Pages load noticeably slower than we are used to — even over a Wi-Fi connection — and text smoothing takes much longer than it should, contributing to a rather poor mobile web experience.
The LG Mini has just 330MB of internal storage but a side-mounted microSD card slot theoretically supports cards of up to 32GB.
NEXT: our expert verdict >>
See also: Group test: what's the best smartphone?