The LG S310 is a cheap feature phone for mobile users on a tight budget. Its classy exterior belies the humble tech beneath and the lack of 3G makes online access a chore, but it's a solid choice for undemanding consumers. It packs a decent camera for the price, too. The LG S310 is available for around £30 on pay as you go deals, with SIM-free handsets selling for around £80.
Design and feel
Looks can be deceiving, and when you first lay eyes on the LG S310's chrome-effect casing and slim lines, you'd be forgiven for thinking this was a slick and expensive handset. The device absolutely blows away the competition in terms of aesthetics, but the technology contained within is more in line with its budget brethren.
Although the LG S310's casing is fashioned out of plastic, the faux-metallic materials lend it a reassuringly solid feel. Despite its thin size and low weight of 86g, it's doesn't feel flimsy or delicate. There's also no sign of creaking joints when you grip the phone tightly in your hand.
The LG S310's alphanumeric keypad boasts large buttons that are easy to text with, although touchscreen lovers will have to become accustomed to old-fashioned T9 texting again. Both the keypad and the navigation pad above are backlit by blue LEDs, and this makes typing the dark as easy as falling off a log.
Budget phones are typified by poor screens, and sadly the LG S310 doesn't do very much to break the mould. The 2.2-inch, 176x220-pixel resolution TFT display can cope with menial tasks, but viewing Web pages or high-detail images is irksome.
On the plus side, the screen is bright and doesn't suffer from the unequal distribution of backlight intensity that afflicted the similarly inexpensive Nokia 1616.
Software and operating system
The LG S310 is running a custom operating system, so don't go expecting any-style smart-phone hijinks here. It's basic but highly intuitive, and even the most novice of mobile users will be able to figure everything out without having to consult the instruction manual.
Java apps come pre-loaded, and you can download additional programs and install them to the phone's 15MB internal memory. This means you can download the Google Gmail Java application and run it from the handset -- a neat trick if you're looking for rudimentary email access on the move.
No 3G or Wi-Fi
Although the LG S310 supports Bluetooth and USB file transfer, there's no 3G or Wi-Fi. Instead you'll need to make do with 2G and EDGE, neither of which is going to offer blisteringly fast data transfer speeds. For smaller files, you can use the phone's Bluetooth data connection. This limits the phone's ability to serve as a Web-browsing tool, as pages take an age to render, even on the low-resolution display. It's also cumbersome to navigate large pages, and unless you zoom right in close, text just looks like an ill-defined blur.
Facebook and Twitter
The LG S310 comes with a suite of Java apps, one of which grants mobile access to social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.
We've seen other budget phones attempt to offer such connectivity and fail miserably (, we're looking in your direction) and unfortunately LG hasn't been entirely successful, either. The issue is that the Java app provided is woefully lacking in features and functionally, and it takes ages to load -- if it loads at all. Being able to access your social stream on the fly is a real bonus, but when the experience is this clunky you're probably better off saving your pithy 140-character witticisms until you're in range of a proper computer -- or just texting them in.