While Australian residents endure the wait until 2008 for a local Apple iPhone -- or pay obscene sums to buy one overseas and do a cheeky unlocking manoeuvre -- handsets with a similar touch-based interface are hitting the market. In June we reviewed the HTC Touch, and now comes the LG Prada, which also employs an expansive, strokeable screen.
Prada is one of the world's biggest luxury fashion brands, and is the label of choice for a tonne of celebrities, and even the earthly incarnation of Satan, according to the book and movie The Devil Wears Prada. The classy Italian fashion folk have teamed up with LG in order to release this covetable communications object.
The LG Prada has a distinctive, streamlined look that will catch the eyes of everyone within a five-metre radius when you unsheathe the handset from its leather sleeve. Like the iPhone, there is no keypad, and very few buttons and ports mar the smooth, glossy surfaces. At 54 millimetres across and 98.8 millimetres tall, the KE850 is wide but not uncomfortably so -- it fits snugly into one hand. The all-important depth measurement is 12 millimetres, which is slightly thicker than the iPhone.
Those who have lapsed into a catatonic state awaiting the arrival of the Apple device -- or had their hands on an iPod Touch -- will be familiar with the touchscreen interface of the KE850. There are no number keys, so all calling and texting is done via virtual means. To make a call, you tap the phone icon and a keypad appears onscreen. It's a similar story for texting, but unlike the iPhone there is no QWERTY keyboard -- you compose an SMS using the standard alphanumeric key configuration.
As with that other designer handset, Motorola's, the Prada phone comes with a range of accessories that just scream "I paid top dollar for this device, so gaze upon it and despair". The goods include a brown leather pouch and a black branded wiping cloth that you can use to wipe off the phone should it become sullied with the airborne filth of Dickensian street urchins as you pass their huddled forms on the way to Chanel.
The Prada phone offers some cute touch-related extras to keep you occupied during idle moments -- two of the pre-installed animated wallpapers are interactive, and allow you to direct the movement of a butterfly or fish by tapping a section of the screen. Guiding the little creatures around the display is strangely compelling. There's also the draggable clock widget complete with alarm that pops out when you tap the clock face.