LG A140 review: LG A140

The super-cheap LG A140 looks good on paper, but it's let down by poor multimedia capabilities and a dismal screen. You have to accept some compromises in a phone of this price, though.

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Damien McFerran
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Damien McFerran

Damien McFerran has more than a decade of experience in the interactive entertainment and technology sectors. He is also the Editorial Director of Nintendo Life and co-director of Nlife Ltd. Damien is a freelance writer and is not an employee of CNET.

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When a phone proudly lists it thinness as a major selling point, you know you're not looking at a contender for handset of the year. The LG A140 is comprehensively outmatched by rival phones in the same price bracket, but the features that it does have are still remarkable when you consider the minuscule price point.

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5.5

LG A140

The Good

Bluetooth connectivity; video-recording capability via the VGA camera; slim design.

The Bad

Terrible screen; no 3.5mm headphone jack; bundled headphones are abysmal; casing feels tacky and cheap.

The Bottom Line

The super-cheap LG A140 looks good on paper, but it's let down by poor multimedia capabilities and a dismal screen. You have to accept some compromises in a phone of this price, though.

The A140 is available on a pay as you go deal for around £15.

Slimness at a cost

At just 12mm thick, the A140 is slim -- and LG wants you to know it. It's slender dimensions are listed on the box as the top selling point of this cheap and cheerful device, although it could be argued that LG is selling it short.

Also included are Bluetooth connectivity, a VGA camera (with video-recording capability), multimedia messaging and limited access to the Web. All of those features are usually conspicuous by their absence on similarly priced handsets.

Weighing in at a mere 73g, the A140 is also incredibly light. This is partly down to its slender construction, and partly because of the relatively inexpensive nature of the components used. Some parts of the plastic casing look nasty, and the battery cover doesn't fit tightly enough in places, resulting in an unsightly gap.

The A140's VGA snapper is capable of capturing images and video, but the quality is predictably naff. Still, it's a good feature, considering the price.

This rather underwhelming physical appearance may have something to do with the fact that the A140 isn't actually a purebred LG product -- it's been designed and manufactured by French firm Sagem Wireless, a company that is hardly noted for its desirable phones.

The phone's glossy back doesn't look too bad. But, unfortunately, it also serves to make the phone harder to hold when you've got sweaty hands -- so don't even think about attempting to make a call when you're particularly flustered.

Interface infuriation

The A140's one-piece keypad looks great, but it makes rapid texting problematic, as it's hard to properly differentiate between the buttons laid underneath the plastic surface. The navigation pad is also uninspiring. It's somewhere between a square and a circle, making it less intuitive to use when you're in a hurry.

Low-quality screens are practically a given when looking at budget phones, and the A140 does nothing to buck this unfortunate trend. The low-resolution 128x160-pixel display is hideously washed-out. Even at maximum brightness, it looks duller than a British summer. The only upshot is that it places relatively little demand on the phone's battery, which results in above-average stamina.

The washed-out screen makes playing games harder that it probably should be.

Unlike many other low-cost mobiles, the A140 comes with a VGA camera for taking photos and capturing video. It does neither of these things to a brilliant standard, but that's to be expected when you take into account the low price. It's a good feature to have, but, with only around 7MB of internal storage to play with and no memory-card slot to boost this figure, you're not going to be creating epic hour-long movies.

The stifling lack of memory is mitigated slightly by the inclusion of Bluetooth for wireless file transfer. This at least means you can periodically clear out your phone's memory to make space for new images and recordings.

The battery cover doesn't quite fit properly, leaving this ugly-looking gap at the bottom of the phone.

The aforementioned memory constraints also put paid to any dreams you may have of using the phone as a music player. That's just as well, because the lack of a 3.5mm audio output means you're restricted to using the wretched pair of bundled earphones. We've encountered some truly hateful examples in our time, but the ones included here are only fit for hurling in the rubbish bin.

Going online

Although the best cellular connection the A140 can muster is GPRS, we found we could at least browse T-Mobile's dedicated T-Zones Web portal. We could also download applications and games.

Three Java games came with our review handset: Dragon Fire is a fairly enjoyable vertically scrolling shooter, while Halloween Fever is a puzzle title that involves removing spooky-looking blocks from the screen. Finally, there's a digital version of Sudoku -- something that's practically standard-issue on cheap handsets these days.

Conclusion

Like so many low-price phones, the LG A140 is a combination of refreshing features and unfortunate compromises. Getting a VGA camera, Bluetooth and video recording for £15 is a deal not to be sniffed at, but the cheap feel of the phone's casing, the below-average display and the lack of storage space conspire to lessen its appeal.

Other phones, like the T-Mobile Zest E110 and Samsung E2121, are valid rivals to the A140, but we're still waiting for an ultra-low-cost blower that covers all of the possible bases.

Edited by Charles Kloet