LG KG920 review: LG KG920

LG's KG920 is the first phone in the UK to feature a 5-megapixel camera and it's certainly getting lots of attention. As a phone it's not much to shout about -- it's reasonably large, is crammed with buttons and the screen could be bigger -- but if you want a mobile that takes good-quality photos, this is well worth considering

Sandra Vogel

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5 min read

LG's KG920 is the first mobile phone to reach the UK with a built-in 5-megapixel camera. Unsurprisingly, it is this camera that is grabbing everyone's attention, but the KG920 is, ultimately, a mobile phone. With this in mind, we have two main questions to answer: Is the camera good enough to let you do without a separate digital camera, and how well does the KG920 function overall as a phone?


LG KG920

The Good

Produces good quality images for a phone; clever swivel mechanism for self portraits; flash.

The Bad

Strange button arrangement; no optical zoom; chunky.

The Bottom Line

LG has brought the first 5-megapixel camera phone to the UK -- it produces good quality images, but a separate digital camera gives you more options. We don't like the blingy design, and while it is by no means a giant, the KG920 is larger and heavier than we'd like

If you are looking for a phone that is small, neat and pocket friendly, you shouldn't be looking here. The LG KG920 measures 108mm by 50mm by 18mm and weighs 130g, so it's more of a beast than a baby. It is not enormously oversized, and certainly takes up less space than a separate phone and camera would, but it isn't likely to slip neatly into a jeans pocket when you head off for a night out.

If you are looking for a phone with more buttons than the console of the space shuttle, then you are looking in the right place. On the front you have the 12 keys that comprise the number pad plus three softmenu buttons, Call and End keys, a long key marked with a C which is a back button and a square navigation button with a central 'OK' key. The navigation button has tiny icons on its four sides which indicate the shortcuts available when you press each one. The buttons sit in an unusual arrangement below the screen, and we found them quite difficult to get used to.

Four further buttons sit in two pairs along the left edge by the screen. When you are using the camera the top two are shortcuts to zooming in and out while the bottom two turn the flash on and off and let you configure the self timer. When you are not using the camera, the bottom two take you to the phone's calendar software and music player.

On the left edge there is a volume rocker and the button which launches the camera software and then takes snaps. The right edge has three covered connectors for the headphones, mains power and for a miniSD card.

On the back is the camera lens with a mechanical sliding cover to protect it. Even with the cover opened the lens is nicely recessed and so should be difficult to scratch.

And then there is the twist. The screen and numberpad areas do a complete 180 degree swivel, so that you can get the lens and screen facing the same way. This is to make it easy to shoot self portraits.

The screen is not as large as we might like, but it is sharp and bright, and its 240x320-pixel resolution means that it delivers clear, crisp image.

The LG920 is all about taking pictures. That is not to say the phone doesn't do other things, but you are going to buy it for its photographic prowess.

The 5 megapixel resolution, however, is only ever part of the story. There are a lot of pixels there -- more than we've ever seen before in a phone -- but there needs to be some solid additional capabilities if you are to be encouraged to leave the digital camera at home.

The xenon flash helps in this department, catering for pretty reasonable indoor shots. But it is counterbalanced by the fact that the 4x zoom is digital rather than optical. The autofocus is another plus, as are the plentiful shooting modes, with options like macro, landscape, sports and dusk modes, though many digital cameras offer more options here. The flash provides a red-eye reduction option and filters for black and white, sepia and negative styles are included.

There is a burst mode, which will shoot up to six images in quick succession, but you have to come down to 640x480-pixel resolution for this to function. As you raise the resolution, the number of images you can shoot in sequence falls, and at 5 megapixels the sequence mode does not function at all.

The bottom line is that a well specified digital camera will offer you more options, a larger screen with which to frame shots and a better lens. And of course many digital cameras shoot more than 5 megapixels these days.

You get a 256MB miniSD card with the KG920 and neither the camera nor MP3 player will work without it, but 256MB is not enough -- our test photos needed up to 2MB per shot at the maximum quality available. If you also want to carry some music for use with the phone's MP3 player, then you should budget for an additional, higher capacity card.

The music player is easy to access via the dedicated music button on the left side of the screen. It supports MP3, AAC and AAC+ file formats and you can use MP3s for ringtones. We managed to drag and drop music files on to the microSD card and play them on the KG920 without any difficulty. You can control the player via the inline remote on the proprietary headset, which also has a 3.5mm jack so you can swap out the headphones and use your own. The player also gives you the option to play files in shuffle and repeat mode.

Among the other features is a Web browser, however this doesn't fit pages well into the screen -- we had to do a lot of horizontal scrolling to read test pages.

Other software includes a calendar, email software, support for Java games, five different alarms and a wide range of unit converters that stretches to US, European and Korean shoes and European, Korean, Japanese, US and UK clothing. Generally speaking, though, this extra software isn't up to much and it is the camera that steals the show.

As a mobile phone the KG920 performed well, delivering clear calls and not dropping connections. Battery life was not particularly good, though, and we found that to get the phone to last a weekend we had to restrict image shooting. A daily charge is recommended if you want to use the camera to any reasonable extent.

The photos themselves were of pretty good quality. We got some prints made, including some A4 blow-ups, and they look good enough to frame or give to friends or relations, but we found both waiting for the autofocus and saving images was slow.

Overall, though, we don't think the KG 920 is good enough to replace a digital camera completely. It turns out fairly nice quality prints, but if you are a serious or even semi-serious photographer, a well-featured digital camera is still going to offer you greater capability.

Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Kate Macefield

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