From a distance the LG KF390 holds itself with a quiet pride. Its glossy black finish and the almost complete absence of mechanical face keys gives it the appearance of a miniature obsidian monolith, like the one the monkeys discover at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey. As with many phones from LG (and Samsung for that matter) the illusion is broken when viewed up close, revealing the KF390 as a fairly unremarkable plastic handset, with one exception.
As with other recent low-end LG handsets, the KF390 offers a few cheap thrills to distract from the otherwise pedestrian design. These come in the form of touch-sensitive menu selection keys located around the centre navigation button and activated when the slider is pushed open. On our test unit (as it will be for all Next G handsets) the left and right selection keys are dedicated to Telstra services, with the buttons below these activating the music player and the task manager. These touch-sensitive keys are a nice touch but were consistently getting in the way as we found ourselves constantly miss-striking them, particularly when using the navigation button.
Above these keys the KF390 features a 2-inch screen with a 220x176-pixel resolution. This is a lower res display than we normally see on mobiles — most recent release phones included QVGA displays (240x320) — and it is obvious when you navigate the menus, with its jagged edged graphics, or when you watch streaming video like mobile Foxtel TV. On top of this we found the viewing angle for this display to be terrible. If you turn the phone on its side to view video in landscape mode the picture fades to a negative image on very slight angles off-centre, making it hard to concentrate on the image.
The big drawcard for the LG KF390 is Telstra's blue tick seal of approval. This indicates that Telstra has tested the handset in remote areas covered by its Next G network and has determined that it provides superior reception to the majority of Next G capable handsets in its range. The KF390 becomes the eighth handset to have been given the blue tick, so it joins quite an exclusive club.