Not everyone thinks it's a good idea to have a mobile so small you can put a strap on it and call it a watch phone. For the older phoner, people with disabilities and the chunky-thumbed, a hearty button to push and a big display are more attractive propositions than a wonder of miniaturisation.
For such folk, there's the LG KF300 clamshell phone. It won't impress people at the bus stop, but it has some handy features packed into an easy-to-use, thin and light package. It won't badly wound your wallet either: it's available free on a £15-per-month contract with Orange.
The KF300 is kitted out in conservative black plastic with a chrome trim, except for the prism-like front panel, which also sports an external screen with a big, chunky clock. We found the shiny front slightly too '80s, but it's subtle and the handset is pleasantly thin. Despite the plastic body, the phone feels solid and the hinge feels like it could withstand a few thousand flips.
We put on our dark glasses, noise-cancelling headphones and winter gloves to try out the KF300 and we liked what we could see. When we flipped it open, the KF300 blasted our eyeballs with boldly labelled keys that are twice the size of what we typically see. There's a five-way function key, a plethora of shortcut keys for the camera, alarm, calendar and photo gallery, and a customisable key for favourite features.
Big and bold
As well as big buttons, the KF300 has a heap of features to make our muffled lives easier. The default font size in the menus is enormous and adjustable. Also, every menu item has a keyboard shortcut key -- something we'd like to see on more handsets.
Unfortunately, there are a few areas where the KF300 abandons its accessibility crusade. For example, the main menu screen sports detailed icons with small text labels that look lifted from other LG handsets, and they didn't change when we adjusted the text size. We'd have liked to see the accessible design carried through the whole user interface.
Easy as pie
With clearly labelled options and status messages, the KF300 is very easy to use. Basic tasks like sending a text are straightforward, and we especially appreciate the obvious delete key. But we found entering punctuation less intuitive than with some other phones, which might be a problem for our parents, who are prone to sending texts ALL IN CAPS, with no punctuation.
We also found it totally bizarre that, when dialling a number, the digits are displayed in a swoopy cursive text on a yellowish background that features a music stave. Theme-wise, it doesn't relate to anything else offered by the phone, and it isn't easy to read, so we found it irritating.