People like Chocolate. It's true -- head into any confectioner's and you'll see people buying it by the truckload. Presumably that's what passed through the minds of the folks at LG when choosing the Chocolate moniker for their line of fashionable phones last year. The latest chocolate to drop off the factory line is the U830, an HSDPA-enabled phone with a few subtle changes from last year's phone.
For a start, the form factor has changed -- the U830 is a fliptop phone where the KG800 was a slider; whether that's a plus or a minus is entirely down to what you like in a mobile phone. It's still got the same sleek black finish as the KG800, which means it's just as thumbprint and scratch-sensitive as the KG800 was. The touch-sensitive controls that were such a selling point for the KG800 have been stripped down to a basic three -- Play/Pause and back and forth tracks, all of which require a tap on the volume controls and then an onscreen double-tap before they become live.
At 98 x 49 x 14.8 mm the U830 is a relatively wide fliptop phone, although its carrying weight of 94g shouldn't tax too many muscles when it's ensconced in a pocket. Flipping up the top of the U830 reveals the full-size keypad. All of the buttons are placed flat on the keypad, but there's a good responsiveness to their action when dialling or entering data. The five-way controller sits at the top of the dialling pad, and is a similar flat design.
The U830 is an HSDPA-enabled phone -- our test sample was a 3 branded model -- with two cameras -- one internal VGA for video calling, and a higher quality 2-megapixel external camera for photographic use. The phone has 184MB of available memory for storage, which initially seems very generous, until you realize one of the key omissions on the U830 -- there's no external memory port whatsoever, so the 184MB you've got is all you're going to get. The primary LCD is a 240 by 320-pixel, 262K TFT screen, while the smaller external screen is a 128 by 160-pixel, 65K TFT. A2DP Bluetooth is supported for those with stereo Bluetooth headphones.
In ordinary phone use, the U830 works surprisingly well. We say surprisingly as in our experience the learning curve for phones with flat keypads can be quite steep as you get used to the exact spacing of keys and the force needed for each key entry. The U830 performed well in this regard, because the tactile feedback of each key is quite marked. We wish we could say the same for the touch-sensitive music controls, which were extremely unresponsive in our tests. Speaker volume when using the external controls was quite solid, and certainly at a level where it's likely to annoy your fellow commuters if pumped out at full whack.
LG rates the U830 with a standby time of up to 250 hours, but with a low actual talk time of only 110 minutes. Our testing concurs with both figures; in a low-usage environment the U830 lasted for a number of days, but as soon as we started calling, taking snapshots and downloading files, we found it necessary to recharge the phone on a nightly basis.