The KE500 attempts to steal some of the lustre of LG's Shine handset and serve it up in a more affordable package. The handset is available for free on contract or for around £80 SIM-free or on pay as you go, but is it a sensible option for those who are strapped for cash?
LG has certainly made some impressive looking phones in its day and although the KE500 isn't quite up there with the Shine or Chocolate handsets in terms of looks, it's not altogether unappealing to the eye. The mirrored surround on the screen is certainly attractive and the keypad is bathed in a pleasing blue glow from the backlight. Only the slightly plasticky finish detracts from the overall look.
The phone is pretty straightforward to use as its menu system is based around a standard grid of animated icons. The T9 predictive text implementation is also good, but the buttons on the keypad are small and overly smooth. As a result, they feel very slippery under your thumb and fingers when you're tapping out messages. Another anomaly with the keypad is that it doesn't have a hang-up button. Instead this is bizarrely -- and rather annoyingly -- placed on the right hand edge of the phone.
On the rear of the handset you'll find a 2-megapixel camera, complete with a micromirror for self portraits and an LED flash for low light shooting. The snaps it takes aren't bad as they capture relatively naturally looking colour, but the detail is obviously limited by the relatively low resolution.
Apart from the camera, you also get a few other extras, including a basic MP3 player and an FM tuner. The phone also supports Bluetooth. This can be used not just to connect to wireless headsets or car kits, but also to beam stereo music to A2DP compatible wireless speaker systems.
The KE500's call quality was generally good, although the speaker does tend to distort at higher volumes or when you use the speakerphone, and the phones reception was good.
The main problem with this handset is its battery life. Whereas the latest handsets from Sony Ericsson and Nokia offer up to seven hours of talk time, the KE500 can barely manage half of that. It will run out of puff after around three hours of nattering, which has got to be a major failing in anyone's book.
The handset's MP3 player is also very basic. For example, all music files have to be stored on your memory card in a folder called 'Sounds'. If they're stored in any other folder the phone will simply refuse to acknowledge that they're there. The music player also presents all your tracks as a long list rather than sorting them by the normal artist, song and album categories. When you're using larger memory cards stuffed full of tracks, it soon becomes a pretty tedious way of selecting songs to play.
There are also some quirks with the FM tuner. Unlike those on most rival phones, you can't listen to the radio in the background as you do other tasks like view photos or compose text messages. Instead, as soon as you exit the Radio Tuner applet, all music stops.
We weren't overly enamoured with the phone's build quality either. The case looks and feels quite plasticky and when the slide is open it flexes too much for our liking.
The KE500 initially looks like a very impressive handset, free on contract or around £80 SIM-free or on pay as you go, but the more you use it, the more the cracks begin to show. At the end of the day, it simply doesn't have the build quality or battery life to get the thumbs up from us.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Jon Squire