The LG Shine is one of the most desirable phones we've seen, thanks to the gleaming metal and mirrored front. If you're looking for a phone with a touch of class, then this should be near the top of your list.
Available soon for free with a contract, the LG Shine is a rare example of a fashion phone that's actually useable.
The first thing you'll notice when you take the LG Shine out of its box is that there's a mirror where you'd expect the screen to be, and it's large enough to quickly check yourself out before a big meeting or a hot date. Turn the phone on, though, and you'll realise there's actually a large colour screen beneath the reflective surface -- it's a really cool effect.
Unfortunately, as soon as you start to use the phone you'll realise what a grease and fingerprint magnet the screen is. It's annoying, but it's also part of the Shine's charm -- it's all about style over practicality. The glass front looks incredible when it's clean; just be prepared to clean it a lot.
Unlike many phones that feel like toys made from cheap plastic, the Shine feels strong and well built. It's slightly heavier than most phones we've seen recently, but this only adds to the sensation that you've got a quality product in your hand. At only 14mm thick, it slips easily into a pocket.
The materials used in the LG Shine remind us of other classy mobiles like the Nokia 8800. The metal casing oozes quality, and when you look at the back, where the 2-megapixel camera is housed, it looks more like a cutting-edge, ultra-compact digital camera than a phone.
When you push the top section up, the flat, Razr-like keypad is unveiled, the screen is activated and a blue backlight illuminates the keys, including the two soft keys at the top. Annoyingly, you invariably touch the mirrored glass section to open the phone, smearing it with your mucky paws.
The sliding mechanism is superb. There's none of the wobbling or shaking we've seen on some rival phones when sliding it open or shut, and it feels very sturdy compared with the majority of other slider phones.
Once opened, you use a bar that you scroll up and down to navigate the menu, which can be slow-going at times. Unlike, say, the iPod's Click Wheel, which lets you scroll without taking your thumb off the wheel, you need to keep lifting your thumb off the Shine's scroll bar to keep scrolling. The scrolling speed is also a little slow and you can't adjust it, which is a shame.
The Shine's keypad is completely flat, so it can be difficult to work out which key is which, and it suffers from the usual slider phone problem of a lack of space for the bottom row of keys.
The large colour screen is surprisingly bright, even though it's hidden behind the reflective surface, and it works well as a viewfinder for the camera.
You can hold the phone sideways as you would a digital camera, and take pictures using the dedicated button on the right side. The camera features a Schneider Kreuznach lens, autofocus and an LED photo light. There's also a very small portrait mirror so you can take photos of yourself.
Some of the camera's more advanced settings include the ability to adjust the focus mode, set a timer, add a colour effect, adjust the white balance and even take multiple pictures in quick succession. You can also use the camera to shoot videos, although weirdly you can only use the digital zoom in the video mode, not in the camera mode.
The MP3 player is fairly simple and lets you change the equaliser levels, play mode, set it to shuffle and display a real spectrum of the track that's playing. It supports MP3, WAV, AAC, AAC+ and AAC++ files.
The Shine comes with an in-line MP3 player remote that lets you attach a pair of normal 3.5mm headphones. It also lets you make hands-free calls and navigate through your contacts.
You get 50MB of built-in memory, which isn't a lot of space, but fortunately there's an expandable microSD slot for up to 2GB of tunes, pictures or videos. We like the fact that you can drag and drop tracks straight on to the phone -- many manufacturers force you to use their own poorly written PC software to transfer songs.
You can also use the Shine as a USB mass-storage drive and, combined with the built-in document reader -- which can view text files and PDFs, as well as PowerPoint, Word and Excel documents -- this is a very useful feature. Other features include a WAP browser, MMS and SMS messaging, a video player, speakerphone mode, Bluetooth 1.2, email client, a voice recorder, a calendar, memo, a calculator, a stop watch and Java games.
A noteworthy but slightly gimmicky feature is the world clock, which displays a globe of the world and lets you zoom in to different continents and countries in a similar style to Google Earth.
Finding contacts and sending text messages is more complicated than it should be, requiring more button-pushes than is strictly necessary, but it's not a deal-breaker.
Audio quality during calls was clear and there were no noticeable distortions or feedback. The speakerphone, however, is difficult to hear unless you're in a quiet room. Audio quality on the MP3 player was loud and clear and was made better by the fact that you can use your own headphones via the in-line adaptor.
The 2-megapixel camera takes relatively sharp photos in good light and we found that the autofocus works well. It does, however, seem a little outdated next to phones with 3.2-megapixel sensors, like the. The LED photo light isn't particularly powerful and will only work properly at close range, unlike the xenon flash on .
The battery lasted for about two days before we had to recharge it.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield