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The LG U830 may look similar to the LG KG810 but underneath its slick casing lies a high-speed Internet beast that will let you browse the Web at up to speeds of 3.6Mbps (1.7Mbps is currently the top speed in the UK). Fortunately, it's not all about the mobile Web -- you also get a 2-megapixel camera and an MP3 player.
It's available from 3 for free on a monthly contract.
The LG U830 looks and feels like the LG KG810 Chocolate Folder, but it's a little thicker, coming in at 49mm wide, 98mm tall and 15mm deep. It comes with HSDPA (3.5G) connectivity as well as a few other new features.
It's an attractive phone that not only looks good but feels comfortable to hold and use. You will, however, need to use the bundled cleaning pad or carry a cloth to keep it nice and shiny.
The front section is a glossy piano black and houses a 2-megapixel camera, a colour screen and glowing-red, heat- and touch-sensitive music buttons. Around this fingerprint-friendly surface is a metallic silver border that clearly distinguishes the top section of the clamshell from the bottom. There's plenty of space between the two sections to prise them open easily with a thumb or finger.
On the left side of the handset is a volume rocker that controls the volume during calls and on the MP3 player. It also adjusts the camera's zoom. Further down the left side there's a charging port that doubles up as the headphone and USB port. On the right side there's a shutter button for the camera. The back of the phone is minimalist with only a spring-loaded switch that releases the battery.
Once you open up the U830, there's a bright colour screen that measures 34mm wide by 45mm tall at the top of the inside section. Underneath this lies a flat keypad. At the top of the keypad section there's a square navigation button that's large and easy to press.
Flat keypads are sometimes difficult to use but the U830's is not too bad. It's still harder to differentiate between each key than on a raised keypad, but there's no lip at the bottom, which makes accessing the bottom row of keys much easier than on clamshell phones that do have a lip, such as the Motorola Razr.
The U830's HSDPA (3.5G) connectivity gives you high-speed Internet access on the go. You can also hook it up to a laptop and use it as a portable modem although in order to do this you need to buy an add-on that will cost from £15 to £45, depending on how much data you want to download.
The Web browser works well with WAP sites and renders full-size Web pages acceptably with the option to view an optimised version of the page, which compresses it so that it's all in one column the width of the U830's screen.
This phone isn't just about the Internet, though -- it comes with a good range of other features, too. For starters there's an MP3 player that supports MP3, AAC, AAC+, AAC++ and WMA formats, and a video player that supports MP4, 3GP and WMV formats. You can also make video calls using the secondary VGA camera found on the inside of the hinge.
Listening to music or videos is possible using the proprietary headphones, or you can use your own via the 3.5mm adaptor. You can also use Bluetooth stereo headphones -- the U830 supports A2DP (stereo Bluetooth).
You can control the MP3 player with the clamshell open or shut and there are three heat- and touch-sensitive buttons on the front to play and pause tracks or go forward and back. The problem with the external controls is that you have to activate them using the volume button, which is fiddly because it needs to be pressed twice or held down for a few seconds.
We also found the external controls weren't always responsive -- tapping them often didn't do anything. Then there's the 2-megapixel camera, which is okay for MMS messages but it disappointingly lacks autofocus and a flash or LED photo light. Pictures and video were acceptable for messaging, but don't expect to get high-quality prints.
In addition, there's no expandable memory card and while you do get about 180MB of on-board memory, it simply isn't that much if you plan on using it as a replacement for your MP3 player and save pictures on it too.
Other features include a speakerphone mode, a voice recorder, a calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a unit converter, world time, a stop watch and Java games. It also has a an email client so you can send and receive emails, a flight mode, and it supports Maxisim, which is a SIM card that works like a memory card and lets you store your contacts, ringtones and videos on the SIM itself.
The U830 comes bundled with software that lets you synchronise your contacts, calendar, to-do list and memos, and put music on to it too. You'll also need it to connect to the Internet using your laptop, should you wish to. We found the software really easy to use and it looks good, too.
Audio quality during calls was really clear and loud. We had no problem hearing people over the speaker and none of the people we spoke to reported problems with volume or distortions from their side, either.
The MP3 player sounded good, especially since we could use our own headphones via the adaptor.
Battery life was acceptable but not fantastic, especially after we made 3G video calls or browsed the Web for a while -- it's quoted at 258 hours of standby time. It lasted for around two days with moderate use. You do, however, get an extended battery in the box that lasts for at least a day longer.
The LG U830 is another attractive device from LG that gives you high-speed Internet access on the go and comes with an easy-to-use keypad. If you're looking for a stylish clamshell phone with a bit of oomph then it's worth checking out.
We're slightly disappointed, however, that the camera doesn't have a higher-resolution sensor and that there's no expandable memory slot. If you do want these features then it's worth having a look at the Nokia N93i, which is also a clamshell and comes with a 3.2-megapixel camera and expandable memory slot. Alternatively, there's the LG Prada, which is super-stylish and comes with an expandable microSD slot but doesn't have HSDPA connectivity.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield