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LG KU990 Viewty review: LG KU990 Viewty

LG has excelled itself with the KU990 Viewty, a 5-megapixel touchscreen camera phone with autofocus and xenon flash. It boasts HSDPA for super-fast Web surfing, a lovely large screen, a great photo-editing app and the ability to upload videos straight to YouTube

Andrew Lim
6 min read

The LG Viewty KU990 might sound like it's a digital photo frame but it's actually LG's latest camera phone that features an impressive 5-megapixel camera with autofocus and xenon flash.


LG KU990 Viewty

The Good

Touchscreen interface; 5-megapixel camera; HSDPA (3.5G); ability to upload videos straight to YouTube.

The Bad

Lack of cover for the camera; lack of Wi-Fi; camera mode switch is a little tough to move.

The Bottom Line

This is one of LG's best phones yet. If you're looking for a good camera phone the LG Viewty is definitely worth checking out. From the vibrating touchscreen interface to the YouTube video capabilities and photo-editing app, we liked what it had to offer and think you will too

Not only can this handset brag about its camera, but it should also be very proud of its lovely large touchscreen, which lets you view images easily. On top of this, it has the ability to upload videos directly to YouTube and to shoot video at 120 frames per second, which allows you to slow it down and watch it in slow-motion, as seen in the clip below. This feature's ideal for shooting fast-moving sports footage.

LG has told us that the LG KU990 Viewty will be available on all major networks. Pricing is yet to be confirmed but it's likely to be free on a monthly contract of around £30 to £40 per month.

Many camera phones take good pictures but don't look that great themselves -- fortunately the LG KU990 Viewty is not an ugly camera phone. In fact, we can go so far as to say it's one of the best-looking camera phones we've seen so far.

In line with LG's latest and greatest handsets, the KU990 has an understated design that feels functional but also exudes a certain amount of class. It feels light but not plasticky and looks more like a high-end handset than the cheap LG phones we've seen in the past.

Similar to the LG Prada and Apple's iPhone, the KU990 features a large touchscreen with three mechanical keys at the bottom, the end and send call keys, and the cancel key. While the touchscreen is prone to fingerprints and scratches, it is very attractive.

Positioned at the top-left section of the back of the handset is the KU990's star feature, a 5-megapixel camera, which disappointingly isn't protected by a lens cover. Next to the camera is xenon flash and autofocus light, similar to on the Sony Ericsson K810i.

Around the side of the camera is an interesting rocker disc that you can push up and down to scroll through menu options, adjust the volume during calls and zoom in and out in camera mode, among other things. It's an interesting concept but not always easy to press and we would have preferred a standard rocker key.

The KU990 comes with a 5-megapixel camera with xenon flash but there's no cover

On the right side of the KU990 are two dedicated camera keys and a switch to change modes. The mode switch is a little tough to change at times but the shutter key is well-sized and very easy to press, which isn't always the case on camera phones.

Compared to the majority of other touchscreens, the KU990's screen is very responsive and can be set to vibrate when you touch it, which provides more tactile feedback than when you simply tap a flat display.

Similar to the LG Prada's interface, the KU990's software interface features finger-friendly icons and an attractive layout. Many reviewers have said they found it difficult to tap the small icons but we didn't have any problems with them at all.

The LG KU990’s large touchscreen cleverly vibrates when you touch it

Dialling and messaging is straightforward via a numeric or alphabetic keypad that works identically to a standard mobile phone keypad minus the mechanical keys, and is aided by the vibrating feedback feature. The messaging interface also allows for handwriting input but we found it slower than just tapping the virtual keypad.

The KU990's proprietary Web browser is one of the best browsers we have seen on a mobile phone. Similar to the iPhone's browser, you can view full-sized Web pages at a reduced size and then zoom in on the sections you want to see properly.

Web pages loaded relatively quickly but we did notice some lag, which may have been caused by network issues or possibly our review unit. The KU990 comes with HSDPA, so theoretically you should be able to download pages at up to 1.8Mbps, which is almost as fast as many people's broadband connections at home.

There's no Wi-Fi, which is a shame but if you're on a flat-rate data plan then we think HSDPA is a better option, otherwise watch out as data charges can be hefty.

Interestingly, you can upload videos directly to YouTube and download them too, but unfortunately our review model didn't have the app pre-installed so we're not sure how well it works. We're assured it will be installed on the final model.

From the back the KU990 looks like a standalone digital camera

We could test out the camera though, which curiously can shoot video at 120 frames per second. At first we weren't entirely sure why this was necessary but it's actually great for capturing fast-moving action and then viewing it in slow motion, as shown in the video earlier.

As for taking normal pictures, the 5-megapixel camera is very capable and of a similar quality to the Nokia N95's camera. You can adjust the size of images, picture quality, ISO and white balance, among other things.

The digital stabilisation feature reduces blur but don't expect the same level of quality as optical stabilisation. Equally, although the KU990 has a xenon flash, we didn't find it as bright as a standalone camera's flash, but it is better than an LED photo light.

Viewing photos is surprisingly cool given that the KU990 comes with a photo viewer that can display pictures as if they were thrown on a table, letting you flick through them with your finger, or you can just use the standard mode that lines them all up.

The picture viewer lets you see photos scattered about as if they were thrown on a table

Once you click on a picture you want to see, you can zoom in and move around it by brushing your finger across the screen as if you were physically pushing a real picture about. You can also edit photos using the KU990's photo-editing app.

As camera phone photo-editing apps go, the KU990's is one of the best we've used, offering users the option to add text, doodles, effects and fun things such as morphing effects, all of which look good when viewing on the KU990's large screen. It's not Photoshop, but it's not bad for quickly editing a photo before sending it to a friend via MMS.

An interesting but not highly advertised feature is support for DivX playback, which as enthusiasts will know, means you can store films on a microSD card and watch them on the KU990's screen, a feature we would like to see on many more handsets.

The shutter button is large and easy to press

Other features include an attractive calendar, a fun 3D shoot 'em up game, speakerphone mode and a music player that supports MP3, AAC, WMA, WMV and AMR formats. The music player works well and lets you sort through artists and album art, similar to on most standalone MP3 players.

Audio quality during calls was loud and clear without any noticeable distortion or muffling. The loudspeaker is loud and video calling works relatively well, particularly because of the large screen.

Picture quality from the 5-megapixel camera in daylight was similar to the quality from the Nokia N95 and Samsung G600, and excellent relative to the majority of other camera phones. Photos looked great on a computer monitor and produced high-quality prints.

We were disappointed, though, that xenon flash wasn't as bright as on the Sony Ericsson K810i, but it is better than an LED photo light -- just don't expect very well-lit shots in dark conditions.

Battery life lasts for over two days if you don't use any of the extra functions. If you do use the camera and browse the Web a lot, you will need to recharge it at the end of the day.

We found the camera mode switch on the KU990 was a little tough to slide

LG quotes talk time battery life at 355 minutes using GSM only and 233 minutes using 3G only, and standby time at 434 hours using GSM and 454 hours using 3G.

The LG KU990 Viewty is an impressive phone, particularly when you consider that LG hasn't made that many high-end camera phones. It's doesn't beat the Canon Digital IXUS 70 but it is comparable with a three-year old average standalone camera.

If you want to take relatively high-quality photos and videos then the KU990 is definitely worth checking out. Alongside the good camera, easy-to-use touchscreen interface and HSDPA (3.5G), we think LG has made one of its best phones yet.

If you're not convinced by LG's offering, it's worth taking a look at the Nokia N95, which comes with GPS and Wi-Fi, the Samsung G600, which is very slim or the Sony Ericsson K850i, all of which come with 5-megapixel cameras, too.

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield