The LG P7200 is a strange beast that both confused and enticed us. On one hand, you have a clamshell that features a 2-megapixel camera with auto-focus, a swivel screen, an MP3 player and a memory expansion slot. On the other, the phone has an awkward keypad, a snail-like camera interface and lacks the finesse of its competitors.
It's thinner than the Sony Ericsson K750i by 4mm but it looks like it's been welded together in a scrapheap challenge. There are jeep-like vents on the front, a hinge that sticks out the sides and a shiny metal camera border that will attract even the most short-sighted criminals. However, this is a decent mid-range phone that delivers clear audio on calls and takes decent photos.
The LG P7200 is not a shy phone. When first unpacking it from its compact black box, we were surprised to find an intimidating handset staring right at us like a Cyberman from Dr Who. It weighs 112g and measures 50 by 96 by 19mm, which isn't huge but we found the larger bottom section and thinner screen section of the phone disproportionate and not as appealing as the Motorola Razr V3's balanced design.
On the front section of the clamshell is a small 96x96-pixel screen that displays 65k colours and features three dedicated music buttons underneath it. Unusually for a phone, the speaker has been placed at the bottom front of the handset and the screen is mounted on a hinge that allows you to twist it 180 degrees.
The P7200's twist screen is similar to the Nokia N90's or the Sharp 903's, and turns 180 degrees, before being folded back down into the phone and used as the camera's viewfinder. Twisting the screen can become quite addictive and you might find yourself in times of deep concentration unwittingly testing the phone to its limits.
Luckily there is plenty of space for taking photos, due to the 64MB internal memory and TransFlash memory expansion slot on the top left side of the phone. Next to which, is a volume button that doubles up as a navigation button when you don't have access to the keypad. Further down the left side of the handset is the charging port.
On the right side of the phone is a proprietary headset port that only supports the included LG headset, which comes with a remote control for controlling the MP3 player, a built in mic, a volume dial and an answer call button. All the ports come with attached covers that, when opened, stick out and catch against things. If you're planning on using this as an MP3 player in your pocket, expect to lose the cover at some point.
At the bottom of the right side of the phone is the dedicated shutter button, that along with the twistable viewfinder screen makes taking photos on the P7200 very similar to using a digital camera. The camera lens itself is located at the back of the phone surrounded by an unmistakable (and unnecessary) silver metal border alongside the portrait mirror and flash.
The inside of the handset is no less intimidating than the outside. The screen displays 262k colours and has a 176x220-pixel resolution. We found it bright and crisp and we liked the ability to turn the screen around and use it in portrait mode -- it felt just like using a digital camera.
However, the keypad is a mess of symbols and numbers that converge on two poorly backlit silver plates. On the top plate there are two soft keys that access the menu and contacts; underneath those are two more soft keys that access the calendar and camera. Separating those four keys is a flush navigation key that houses a ring profile key, a message key, an address book key and a programmable favourite key with a heart-shaped icon.
The second section of the keypad houses the send and end keys as well as the number and letter keys, squashed into half buttons that aren't easy to press if you have large fingers.
The P7200's most notable feature is its 180 degree swivel screen that lets you use the phone like a digital camera. You have the choice of using the internal or external screen as a viewfinder, and once you turn the internal screen around it will automatically put the phone in camera mode. We found that using the external screen as a viewfinder made taking photos faster. It would be nice to have the same speed whilst using the better internal display.
The 2-megapixel camera is impressive, featuring autofocus and flash, but suffers from an extremely slow interface. The autofocus takes around 3 seconds to calibrate, so it doesn't cope well with moving objects. There is also a shutter lag of around 4 seconds and processing the photos takes about 5 seconds. Altogether, it takes around 12 seconds to take a photo, which is slow if you want to take a few quick snaps. However, we liked the ability to adjust the white balance and the multi-shot mode, which lets you take nine pictures in quick succession.
The MP3 player is not the loudest you'll ever hear but it does have some good features. You can set the equaliser to a range of presets, put your music on shuffle and even have different visual effects while playing your music. Luckily this phone does have an expandable TransFlash memory expansion slot, so you can carry around over 1GB worth of music, videos or pictures.
Overall this phone has equivalent features to many of its competitors. It features tri-band connectivity, Bluetooth, speakerphone, GPRS and WAP browser, voice recorder, polyphonic/MP3 ringtones, java games, alarm clock, world time, calculator, unit converter, calendar and can send and receive SMS and MMS messages. You can also use the P7200 as a modem via a Bluetooth connection or USB cable and this means you can access the Internet on your laptop or PDA.
The audio on calls was very clear and didn't sound muffled or distorted. The speakerphone mode was loud and the speaker will play your MP3s at an audible level if you're listening to it in the park.
The quality of the pictures was good and images came out clear and sharp when printed.
The battery life is a little disappointing with only 200 hours standby time compared to the Motorola Razr V3i's 310 hours. According to LG the talktime is around 4 hours which again is 2 hours less than the V3i and we found it disappointing. We also felt charging the phone took longer than it should and overall weren't impressed with the P7200's battery.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Kate Macefield