LG Prada Phone review: LG Prada Phone

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good

Average User Rating

4.5 stars 2 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Fashion styling and svelte figure; Smooth performance and intriguing Android skin; Searingly bright NOVA screen.

The Bad Needs Ice Cream Sandwich update; underwhelming processor and screen resolution; Build quality lacks premium finish.

The Bottom Line The LG Prada Phone is a forward-thinking fashion phone that's bound to appeal to the it crowd (but perhaps not the IT crowd), with its eye-catching design and unique Android skin. It's pricey given its specs and the build lacks luxury, but there's still a lot to like.

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The third LG Prada Phone -- or to use its preposterously long name, the Prada Phone by LG 3.0 -- is the Italian fashion label's third collaboration with the Korean mobile maker. It's a hoity-toity device with decent specs, but is it worth a whopping £430?

The price of the LG Prada Phone puts it in the same league as lots of high-end powerhouses, such as the Samsung Galaxy S2 and Apple's iPhone 4S , as well as newer phones such as the Sony Xperia S and  HTC's quad-core beast, the One X. So how does it measure up?

The LG Prada Phone is available from £21 per month on a two-year contract.

Should I buy the LG Prada Phone?

With a 1GHz dual-core chip, a beautiful 4.3-inch screen and an update to the latest Android operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich , promised at some point soon, the LG Prada Phone is as respectable a choice as any other decent Android phone. But if you're interested in this mobile over others, it's likely you'll have been drawn to it by its fashion design and branding.

As phones and tech companies increasingly gain cult followings of their own, mobiles sporting fashion labels or car logos, which were once the status symbols of consumer tech products, seem to be less relevant. Not only have mobile makers seriously upped their game in terms of design, but the sophistication of the technology in models like the iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy S2 is something many consumers are not willing to sacrifice for an inferior phone, even one with a unique design.

LG Prada Phone 3.0 camera
The textured back is eye-catching from a distance and scratchy enough to double as a nail file.

If you build a stylish fashion phone to competitively high specifications, however, as long as you don't whack a ridiculous price tag on it, it's still possible to create a product that's both credible and desirable. The Prada Phone compromises on neither style nor substance, but its branding does come at a cost.

Specs are similar to last year's top Android phones, but at £430 -- around the same price as the iPhone 4S -- it's a good £100 more than the similarly specced HTC Sensation . It's likely though that if you're used to shelling out extra for a designer label, this will be neither a surprise nor a problem.

Ultimately, if fashion is your passion and you're keen to stand out from the samey-samey Apple crowd, you can't go wrong with the Prada Phone. If labels are not your first love, you'll be better off investing in the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S2.

Design and build quality

Rectangular, black and minimalist, the Prada Phone runs the risk of looking just like every other phone out there, but a few clever touches of Italian glamour help it to stay just ahead of the pack.

With no awkward lumps or bumps, the phone is impeccably svelte at a skinny 8.5mm. A smoke and mirrors effect that LG calls Floating Mass Technology also airbrushes the phone into appearing even thinner than it really is. I dearly look forward to the day that LG starts making phones that actually can float, but until then, I shall have to decipher the exact meaning of the mysterious floating mass jargon myself.

I'd hazard a guess that it's referring to the fact that the back panel slopes inwards from the edges, and is altogether narrower than the front of the phone. When it's placed on a flat surface it creates the illusion that the slim, shiny-rimmed mobile is hovering above it.

LG Prada Phone 3.0 thickness
Not quite as skeletal as the Motorola Razr, but a credibly waif-like 8.5mm thickness.

A single sheet of glass covers the front of the phone which, in the right light, gives the impression that the screen fills the front of the phone. There is, in fact, a black bezel that runs around the screen, but presuming you haven't changed the wallpaper, it's hard to tell where the bezel ends and the screen begins. LG describes the rim of the phone as being made from a 'real metal material'. I suspect that somewhere under the black chrome finish lies some kind of plastic, as the phone feels relatively light.

The Prada label is emblazoned in silver across both the front and back of the phone. Underneath the rear label, near the bottom of the panel, is a small LG logo, imprinted -- one might almost say disguised -- in black.

The distinctive Prada Saffiano design that adorns the back of the phone may look delightful from a distance, particularly in the kind of smoky, dimly lit Parisian bars we imagine fashionistas frequent. But get up close, and you'll see that the worn-leather look is actually just an effect etched onto plastic. Peel off the back of the phone and you'll see the panel is not only made from plastic, but cheap, flimsy plastic. It wouldn't surprise me if this disappointing material is off-putting to fashion fans.

I must add that when taking long and very important phone calls, the textured back started to feel a little scratchy against my palms. I'm aware that style and comfort are not traditionally amicable bedfellows in the fashion world, but something more luxurious and with a higher thread-count wouldn't have gone amiss here, particularly given the price of the handset.

Overall, the phone feels solid, although the front is significantly stronger than the back. Press on the plastic shell and you'll experience some gentle flex and quiet creaking, making it painfully apparent how thin the backplate really is.

Inside the chassis is a SIM slot. Mercifully, given the paltry 8GB internal storage, there's a microSD card slot, meaning you can boost the Prada Phone's memory by 32GB. Both can be accessed without having to remove the battery, which while not hugely important, is a considerate design touch.

LG Prada Phone 3.0 back
Underneath the panel is a microSD card slot, allowing you to expand the Prada's memory by up to 32GB.

To enhance the minimalist appearance of the phone, physical buttons and ports have been kept to a minimum. Four standard Android touch buttons are arranged at the bottom of the screen, but they niftily fade away whenever they're not in use. With the exception of two discreet volume buttons on the side, all are arranged in a neat row across the top.

From left to right, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack, a shortcut key, a micro USB port with a nifty sliding cover and a lock/unlock switch. The buttons and slider are all identical chrome studs, which is a classy touch, although the unlock key was on the diddy side and required too much fumbling and fiddling for my liking.

LG Prada Phone 3.0 headphones
Stylish Prada-branded buds come bundled with the phone.

The earphones that are bundled with the Prada Phone are significantly more stylish than the plastic tat we're used to. They also have the Prada logo etched into the sides. Unsurprisingly, the sound quality isn't up to much, but team them with some Prada sunnies while lounging by the pool at your Lake Como estate, and your look will be complete.

Screen

The Prada Phone boasts a glimmering NOVA display, which at 4.3 inches is the same size as the Samsung Galaxy S2 screen. This sizes is the perfect compromise if you want a screen big enough for browsing and watching videos on the go, but not so big that holding it will give you cramp in your perfectly manicured hand.

NOVA screens, LG claims, are more than twice as bright as the already retina-melting Super AMOLED displays favoured by Samsung. LG claims they also offer purer whites, deeper blacks and consume 50 per cent less power than traditional LCD screens.

LG Prada Phone 3.0 logo
The low-calorie Nova screen is gloriously bright and measures an ideal 4.3 inches.

At 480x800 pixels, the screen resolution is a tad dated and disappointing, although it's not enough of a problem to affect general usability. At 217 pixels per inch (ppi), it lags the 300+ppi screens found on the iPhone 4S and Galaxy Nexus . Videos looked crisp though, and only the very smallest text caused problems when browsing. For a phone that prides itself on its monochrome interface, it must be said that colours appear vibrant and vivid.

Turn the brightness up to full, however, and it becomes apparent that black levels aren't as deep as they could be. The illusion that the display fills the whole front of the phone is ruined by the contrast between the black of the bezel and the brighter black of the screen.

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LG Prada Phone

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