LG’s latest attempt at a touch-screen phone is a vast improvement on its predecessor but the device still fails to live up to the high benchmark set by its rivals.
LG has plenty of experience in developing touch-screen phones in recent years – arguably more than any other manufacturer out there. First they made the ‘Prada’ phone, then the ‘Viewty’ and more recently the KF600 and KF700; which have yet to make it to Irish shores. Now there comes the ‘Renoir’.
The Renoir is being pushed by LG as a follow on from its successful Viewty touch-screen device and the two are certainly similar in many ways. Above all else the Renoir features an impressive 8 megapixel camera, continuing the Viewty’s ambitious attempts at competing with stand-alone photo devices.
When a picture from the Renoir is compared with a picture from a dedicated 6 megapixel camera things seem somewhat less impressive, of course, but in the context of camera phones the device takes a solid picture. What pushes the camera functionality even further beyond its rivals is the software backing it up, which allows for surprising levels of easy photo-customisation.
Unfortunately the Renoir also takes on the Viewty’s clunky operating system but it is a refined version of it, with most of its worst traits jettisoned. The text input is far more user-friendly now too, unlike the previous version which was both frustrating and gimmicky.
The physical form of the Renoir is also a vast improvement on what has come before. It does not feel quite as substantial in the hand as something like the Samsung Tocco but it does fit in palm and pocket with far more comfort than previous attempts. It is actually only 1mm thinner than the Viewty but the way the size is managed makes it feel far smaller than that.
So it is clear that LG are learning from past mistakes and correcting them where possible but there is still an imperfect feel to the Renoir just as there was with the Viewty.
An obvious indicator that LG agrees with this viewpoint is the inclusion of a stylus, which implies that the device may sometimes require a more specific touch than the average finger can manager. This turns out to be just the case every now and again, especially when trying to surf the internet through the lacklustre browser.
Also, the decision to stick with a plastic touch-screen as opposed to the glass favoured by others may save some users from nasty cracks but it does take away from the aesthetic potential of the device – sometimes it feels like it takes away from the responsiveness too.
A few months ago these flaws would have been forgiveable but with some serious competition hitting the market from the likes of Nokia and Samsung, LG needs to ensure their experience is quality from start to finish. Sadly this iteration does not.
An edited version of this review appeared in Business & Finance magazine on 20th November 2008.