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LG Chocolate BL20 review: LG Chocolate BL20

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The Good Appealing design;. Decent photo quality;. Satisfying touch-sensitive direction pad.

The Bad No Wi-Fi;. Video recording is poor;. Limited internal memory;. No 3.5mm headphone socket.

The Bottom Line The LG Chocolate BL20 looks like a smooth operator, but in terms of functionality and features, it doesn't present that much of a step up from its older sibling -- the KG800. If you're shopping on a budget then this is worth considering, but there are better phones available in its class.

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5.5 Overall

The original LG Chocolate KG800 charmed us effortlessly with its innovative touch-sensitive direction pad, but an awful lot of water has passed under the technological bridge since its release way back in 2006. Can this updated version -- meant as a cut-price alternative to the widescreen LG Chocolate BL40 -- achieve similar success four years on?

The LG Chocolate BL20 can be purchased for around £110 on pay as you go, £100 on pay-monthly or SIM-free for £300.

Sweet like chocolate

Like its stablemates, the BL40 and the original KG800, the Chocolate BL20's most obvious selling point is its lush appearance.

With its eye-catching, glossy exterior and smooth, rounded edges, the BL20 is a device intended to turn heads. The famous touchpad makes a return, illuminating whenever you slide the phone open. Granted, the impact of such an interface is considerably less in these days of touchscreen smart phones, but it still feels incredibly accurate and highly responsive.

Although the BL20's display is a modest 63mm (2.4-inches) and boasts a rather underwhelming resolution of just 320x240 pixels, the brightness and contrast are both excellent. Because it lacks a touchscreen, there's actually little need for a larger display. Although, when placed alongside some of the 4-inch behemoths currently hitting the market, LG's phone looks obviously outclassed.

The inclusion of a physical keypad is another element that makes the BL20 a little antiquated. In saying that, it's actually quite pleasant going back to actual buttons after using touchscreens for so long. The spacing between the keys is acceptable and the degree of travel -- not to mention the satisfying click when you press a button -- is agreeable.

Push my buttons

Other physical controls are secreted around the edges of the handset and are a little less pleasing. The lock button -- located on the top-right corner of the phone -- is small and often hard to access, especially when you're using the phone in its 'open' configuration. The volume and camera controls lack any kind of tactile feedback, making them awkward to use.

In the case of the camera button, this can prove to be a real headache, because it's difficult to determine how hard you need to press to engage the autofocus before taking your snap. This results in lots of botched shots, which is a shame, because the BL20 is capable of capturing some impressive images. This is largely thanks to the high-quality 5-megapixel Schneider-Kreuznach lens.

Although static pictures look great, the BL20 doesn't have the power to capture moving images at an acceptable standard. At 15fps, movies look jerky and the quality is dire. The resultant clips are fine for sending as compressed MMS attachments, but anything beyond that is pushing it.

In terms of software, the BL20 intentionally keeps things basic. LG's much-hyped S-Class interface is replaced by a solid,  if uninspiring, menu system. It's easy to navigate and keeps all major functions within a few key presses.

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