I think that LG mobile phones are easily making it to top 3 best handheld designs, and that's because there are simply too few other brands that pay so much attention to their products' look. Fortunately, this has never happened with LG handsets in the last 2-3 years at least. No matter what targets LG mobiles are aiming for, the Korean company always develops stylish, good looking phones. If you're not an LG fan or simply aren't familiar with its handsets, then perhaps you will enjoy the pictures that we took of the new LG KE500. Not specialized in high performance handsets, LG Mobile offers mostly great looking mid-level phones at very convenient prices. I believe that LG KE500 is such a case, where design overpasses performance, but at least you can get it cheap.
Announced in July 2007, LG KE500 has been available on the market starting September for the cheap sum of 240 USD.
LG's KE500 slider looks very exquisite and stylish, but I wouldn't have expected less. It strongly resembles the design of the Chocolate series and has been manufactured by using the same glossy and shiny material. The black color version that we tested was a real fingerprint catcher, thus a great disappointment. There's also a neat similarity with Shine, regarding its display which can be used as a mirror when it's not lighted. But this has been kept to a basic level and will not help you too much as the image reflected is not that good. The slider lacks the sensitive keypad system, but includes the same D-pad for navigation through menus and the same easy to use soft keys.
LG chose the same small sized TFT screen which won't display resolutions bigger than 176 x 220 pixels, but fortunately, is 262k colors compatible. The brightness of the display seems good, but it is unusable outdoors in strong light. Even if small KE500 scored pretty high when tested with different benchmarks and that was partly determined by the powerful processor included and by the Mobile XD technology that has been embedded by the manufacturer. Mobile XD technology has been originally developed for television and is meant to translate 4:3 aspect ratio images to 16:9 aspect ratio images with better clarity. This was only visible in tests, since using the device didn't make any difference with the older models that lack this latest technology. Moreover, we were unable to test the 3D capabilities of the display as the phone cannot run Java applications, which have more than 300 KB.
Same ol' LG firmware that limits its handsets functionality and ... personality has been also included in LG KE500. There are many glitches or bugs present in KE500's software that you can easily discover in only 1 day of use. First, there's no way you can tell that you missed a call if the phone is in standby mode. When display is in sleep mode, if you're being called and missed it, there's no way that you would know unless you check it manually by 'waking up' the phone. Secondly, Java emulator and Internet browser are simply reckless. There's a serious bug that won't let you continue to browse the Internet after you downloaded and installed a Java compatible application. If you "dare" close your browser, the phone will simply ... restart. You cannot run Java applications that are more than 300 KB in size; you can't even run all Java compatible applications, no matter the size (see sample with error).
LG KE500 supports GPRS and EDGE connectivity, both class 10. But alas! Data transfers are slower than expected with only 30 Kbit/s download and 40 Kbit/s upload. Unacceptable even for such mid-level devices, especially if we're looking at Nokia or Sony Ericsson handsets which are in the same class.
Processor and Memory
LG KE500 features a very powerful ARM9 family processor, which runs at speeds of up to 400 Mhz. The CPU is a wonder for such a mid-level phone, but that can only make mobile gamers happier. Nevertheless, this comes at a price, because a powerful CPU sucks more energy and LG is not reckoned for its batteries.
The slider has the typical headsets included with all LG "Shine" or "Chocolate" series sales packages. Fortunately, this one comes with a 3.5mm adapter that will let you attach your own headphones. The MP3 player features a cool equalizer and users will be able to change its skin or minimize it (by pushing the camera button while MP3 player runs). It is compatible with MP3, WAV and AAC format files.
LG KE500 features an 800 mAh Li-Polymer battery, which depletes faster than you might have imagined. 2 hours of music playback and 10 minutes of talking will almost totally drain your battery. This is one of its serious drawbacks, especially for those that are using the phone heavily and will have to charge the phone at least once every 2 days, if not daily. The official numbers stated by LG - 200 hours of standby mode and 3 hours of talking - are simply way overrated.
One of the latest Shine series mobile phone, LG KE500 doesn't catch your attention more than its predecessors. Moreover, if you've seen the "older" models, then you've seen it all. This slider is a typical mobile phone for those that want a cheap and good-looking phone, but do not care too much about functionality.
Perhaps the best thing about the LG KE500 concerns the fact that it simply adds to the LG Shine series offer, at a price affordable to low budget users. Small things like 3.5 mm adapter and Bluetooth A2DP are worth mentioning, but these have become usual stuff long ago and are heavily included in other branded mobile phones.
I had a bad feeling about the phone's firmware before testing it, and unfortunately I was right. Too bad that I was also right about the crappy low life battery. Furthermore, the phone is simply an anti-data transfer phone, because users will experience very, very low speeds when using EDGE or Bluetooth connectivity.
LG KE500 Shine
Battery Li-Po 800 mAh
Headset with remote control
CD ROM with software
Photo: Tudor Raiciu for Softpedia.com