Not the smallest clamshell phone we've seen, the LG F1200 measures a fairly chunky 96.8 x 50 x 24.5mm but weighs a reasonably light 102 grams. Like its sibling, the F2400, it has a curved design, thanks to LG placing the antenna on the inside. The exterior is predominantly silver, with a metallic blue racing stripe down the front that makes the F1200 look something of a boy's toy.
Below the external display are dedicated music buttons for play, fast-forward and rewind. Flipping open the phone reveals a large, well-spaced keypad, with a four-way navigation pad at the top, two shortcut keys, a music menu key and a camera shortcut. The right side of the phone houses the infrared port and another camera shortcut key, so that self-portraits can be taken with the clamshell closed, using the sub-display as the viewfinder.
As can be expected on a mid-range handset, there aren't a heap of extra features such as Bluetooth or a sophisticated smart phone operating system. However, LG has squeezed a few desirables into the F1200, starting with a VGA camera for taking photos up to 640 x 480 pixels.
LG has implemented dual screens on the F1200 -- a large (but not very crisp) 262K-colour main display (128 x 160 pixels) and a smaller 65K-colour LCD (96 x 96 pixels) on the front of the phone. The wallpaper of both displays can be customised with a photo, clock or calendar, and both show battery, network status and caller ID information.
A range of polyphonic tunes (64-chord) and EMS ringtones come pre-installed on the F1200. Unfortunately, MP3s stored in memory can't be used as alerts for incoming calls or text messages. Instead, five pre-installed polyphonic message tones, three opening flip tones and five key tones, can be set.
Travelling shouldn't be a problem with the F1200 as it features tri-band connectivity. There's also a handy world clock application that shows the time zones of major cities around the globe.
Although the sales package mentions karaoke as one of the F1200's features, it beats us as to what LG is alluding to -- we found no such option in the menu or manual. What does come in the box, however, is a USB cable, software CD and a set of headphones with an inline remote control.
We had no trouble with the reception or volume during phone calls. Overall, the F1200 performed admirably in this respect. The F1200's battery also fared well during our tests, lasting around three to four days between charges.
Although the F1200 touts the words "3D sound" on its keypad, the two speakers placed less than two centimetres apart on the front hardly give off a stereo effect, let alone three dimensional sound.
One niggling issue we have with the F1200 is the flawed dictionary mode when typing an SMS. Specifically, it assumes (for some unknown reason) that when an apostrophe is entered it should automatically change the next letter to upper case.
During MP3 playback, a "graphic equaliser" appears on the sub-LCD, with the current track information appearing underneath. However, on close inspection the equaliser doesn't mimic the bass and treble levels of the music; instead, it just flashes blue, green and red patterns in a loop. Not that we'd expect studio-grade feedback from this mini-display, but we thought we should point out that it's more of a gimmick than a feature.
You might be a little disappointed with the F1200 memory, also. With no room for expansion, we found only 64MB for music (about 15 songs), 1MB for photos (about 40 images), 596KB for games and applications, and a maximum of 255 phone book entries.
Quirks and limitations aside, the F1200 is a decent performer and LG's interface is easy to familiarise yourself with. If you're keen on an MP3 phone however, Sony Ericsson's W800i offers a great deal more features, while Motorola's recently announced Rokr E1 has an iTunes client onboard that you can sync with up to 50 songs from your PC.