It all started with Chocolate. Five years ago, LG wasn't considered a strong brand in mobile phones. Now, LG phones are everywhere. The launch of the Chocolate phone almost two years ago repositioned the once lacklustre company as a design leader. Hoping to maintain its fashionable position in the market, LG has come out with another Black Label Series phone called the LG Secret KF750.
At first sight, the Secret is an attractively solid phone, but this a case of style over substance or is does it work as well as it looks? We're letting the cat out of the bag to make sure that LG's Secret isn't a disappointing one.
The Secret will shortly be available for free on a monthly contract on several major networks, including Vodafone. It will be the first LG phone available to buy on Vodafone.
Carbon fibre, fake leather, glass and metal are materials you'd usually expect to find on the inside of a car. Wild and wacky LG has put them on this phone. You'll either think it's an inspired design move or you'll scoff, but we think it looks very swish. It feels satisfyingly heavy, like there's actually something inside of it, which is a refreshing change from the so-light-they'll-snap-when- you-sit-on-them phones we sometimes see.
Considering the amount of features that are squashed into the Secret, it's very slim. The slider format helps to highlight its screen, which is large enough to comfortably view content. Unlike the Chocolate phone with its completely flush front, the Secret features a silver 'OK' key that sticks out. We're overjoyed to find at the bottom of the Secret's front are mechanical send, end and cancel keys.
If you've ever owned a phone that doesn't have said mechanical keys, then you'll know how frustrating it is to not have them. One wrong move or accidental brush of the wrong touch-sensitive key and you've deleted a whole text message, as we found on LG's KF510. Although it might seem like a small detail, we want to scream it from the mountaintops that the LG Secret has dropped the touch-sensitivity and made mechanical these important keys.
Sitting above the aforementioned keys, the four-way navigation pad that surrounds the silver OK key is indeed touch-sensitive but -- hallelujah! -- it works well due to its responsiveness and vibrating feedback feature that lets you know when you've tapped a key. Bizarrely, the Secret's screen is also touch-sensitive but only in certain sections of the phone. You can get to these sections via the 'touch media' menu, which we'll discuss later.
Although it's not marketed as a camera phone, the Secret hides a 5-megapixel snapper. Regrettably, there's no xenon flash so don't expect well-illuminated shots in low light. In daylight, though, we found the Secret's camera quite fun to use, particularly for shooting videos.
As with the Viewty, the Secret allows you to shoot video at up to 120 frames per second, which means you can shoot slow-motion videos and you can also speed videos up à la Benny Hill. We found the Secret's slow-motion videos slightly blurrier than the Viewty's. You can add music by overlaying it on to a video while you're shooting or afterwards to create a music video. Post editing tools also let you add special effects, which are gimmicky but fun nevertheless.
Behind its serious exterior, the Secret is actually a very fun phone. We were entranced for some time by the accelerometer-based game suite, for example. One flick of the wrist and you can throw a dart, go fishing or even shake a Magic 8 ball. But the accelerometer also makes sure to adjust the screen in other areas of the phone, such as the photo viewer, so you're always looking at a picture the right way up.
Another fun feature is the Secret's odd touchscreen; it only works when you activate the 'touch media' menu. Once accessed, you can touch the screen to view photos and documents, listen to the radio and play games or music. It works very well but we think it's a real shame that you can't use it throughout the Secret's user interface, as you can on the LG Viewty, for example.
The Secret has one last piece of unknown knowledge to reveal. It comes pre-installed with a Google package that includes Google Maps for mobile and Gmail, although this could vary based on your network. Getting online is fast over HSDPA (3.5G) and once we had downloaded all our favourite apps, including Opera Mini, we were happily browsing away without any problems. You can even watch YouTube videos but quality will vary depending on your connection.
Battery life lasted for over two days with moderate use, which is impressive considering the Secret's size. Depending on how much you use the camera, Internet and other features, you may find that the battery runs out much faster. Audio quality from the MP3 player was made better by the fact that the Secret comes with a 3.5mm headphone adaptor so you can use you own headphones.
Life is good, especially when you own a mobile phone that has looks as great as the Secret and all its features, too. Putting aside the annoying fact that you can only access the touchscreen functionality via a special menu, we really liked what the Secret had to offer. A combination of a solid handset with some fun features means it will keep you sweet like chocolate until your next upgrade.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday