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LG U880 review: LG U880

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The Good Nice size and solid feel. External buttons to control the MP3 player. Swivelling camera. Five colours on offer. Relatively modest price.

The Bad Feature set is already outdated. Camera takes mediocre shots. User interface is clunky. PC interface takes a little getting used to.

The Bottom Line Entry-level 3G phone that does all the multimedia basics, but doesn't always do them well. The size and shape of the U880 will go down well, however, and you can get the phone cheaply on a monthly plan.

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5.5 Overall

Design
Like Samsung's Z500, the first impression of this phone is its agreeable size, shape and weight. At 98mm by 49mm, and with a thickness of just 18.2mm, the U880 fits nicely into the palm of your hand or your pocket, is quite light, and the clamshell design unfolds to sit comfortably to your ear.

We found the phone to be quite small for a 3G model, while still maintaining a good screen size of 176 x 220 pixels.

Our only complaint here is that when the clamshell is unfolded the U880 can feel a little too long at around 175mm. This is only slightly smaller than Nokia's N90 which is a brick and one of the longest phones on the market.

Five colours to choose from (silver, pink, black, gold and white) mean you'll be able to find one that suits. We reviewed the black model which felt pretty stylish.

On the outside of the phone you'll find a second 96 x 96 pixel colour screen which displays basic facts such as the time, battery status and reception.

The external front of the phone features buttons for controlling music as well as volume, and a button to switch on the phone's camera.

Once you flip open the U880 you're confronted with no less than 14 navigational buttons in addition to the numeric keypad. This is a common problem of phone design, and it will take you a little time to work out what the function of each button is.

The internal buttons are slightly small if you have medium or large fingers.

One of the buttons situated down near the numeric pad is entirely devoted to video calling which we found confusing given most 3G phones make it a software option when you hit the generic "call" button.

The phone's camera sits in the middle of the clamshell hinge and can rotate to face toward or away from the user. While this is a useful feature it made the camera feel relatively fragile.

In contrast, the hinge itself felt solid and doesn't "click" when you open it, leading us to believe it would be quite durable.

It's a little hard to expose the external headphone port without fingernails.

Features
Most of the U880's features can be found on just about any 3G phone you buy these days, with a few exceptions.

For starters the phone has external buttons to control its in-built MP3 player. While the buttons are useful, the phone's relatively limited 70MB of internal memory mean you'll either be listening to the same songs over and over again or refreshing them frequently.

The U880 can play video in a widescreen format, and includes speakerphone functionality as well as dual external stereo speakers. The phone comes with earbuds, but you can't plug in your own as the connection is proprietary.

You can add TransFlash (micro SD) memory cards to the U880, and it can play MP3, MPEG4 and AAC media formats.

The U880's camera has the now-standard 1.3-megapixel rating, and you'll be able to send multimedia and video messages as well as e-mail if you get tired of sending normal text messages.

Performance
There are two main problems with the U880: its features are already outdated and the user interface is clunky.

The phone's 1.3-megapixel camera took mediocre shots generally, and 2-megapixel camera phones are now widely available, offering very good quality.

We experienced a little sound delay while video calling, but in contrast video streamed from 3's content network was pretty clear.

Our first couple of attempts at sending a text message failed, although receiving was intuitive. The function of some of the buttons also changes depending what phone function you're using.

We found it quite easy to transfer files to a PC via the phone's in-built Bluetooth connection, but a little more complicated to use the USB port. The PC software that comes with the U880 was also a little tough to get working optimally.

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