We still can't get our heads around why LG chose "Chocolate" as the pet name for its KG800 mobile phone -- is it because it's desirable, comes in chocolate box-shapped packaging or has smooth, touch-sensitive navigation?
LG chose a trendy bar on the Sydney Harbour Foreshore for the Australian launch of its Chocolate phone last night. Local celebs called in for the gig included radio personality Jackie O, the two Australian models used in the worldwide Chocolate phone television advertising campaign and a handful of Home & Away stars.
After journalists sat down and the realisation set in that they were in fact at a phone launch and shouldn't expect Willy Wonka to suddenly appear handing out treats, LG's Australian marketing manager Carli Wilson introduced the Chocolate, which is also know by its less memorable model number KG800. She explained that Chocolate is just the pet name of its upcoming Black Label Series of mobile phones, which will focus on style and minimalism through innovative designs.
Decked out in a glossy piano-black case, the Chocolate slider phone certainly oozes sophistication, with its most notable feature being touch-sensitive controls that glow red when the screen is slid open. But while we instantly fell in love with LG's radical design concept, we soon found out that not everyone will be fond of what the Chocolate has to offer.
There is 128MB of internal memory onboard but no expansion card slot, which limits the number of photos and music that can be stored on the phone. And while the design of the KG800 is cutting edge, the resolution of the camera is not; a mere 1.3-megapixels compared with Sony Ericsson and Sharp having released 3-megapixel camera phones, the K800i and the 903, respectively.
But this isn't a mobile designed for tech geeks. Instead, it's LG's first serious foray into the fashion phone arena which Motorola has been excelling in with its iconic Razr series of phones. Although Motorola has since released its stylish SLVR (pronounced "sliver"), we think the Chocolate is more eye-catching and will be a serious competitor in this sought-after space.
Over 300,000 of the Chocolate phones were sold within the first three months following the November 2005 launch of the handset in Korea, according to LG. It is available now through Telstra, Optus and Vodafone for a recommended retail price of AU$799.
In our few hours playing with the Chocolate, we're still not used to the touch-sensitive controls. After using mobile phones that provide a tactile button push for so long now, it's probably going to take a couple of day to familiarise ourselves with the new design before we're comfortable. That said, first time iPod users can also find it strange to navigate through menus and lists with touch sensitive scroll-wheel, but it's arguably the most efficient way once you're used to it. It will also be interesting to see how long the Chocolate's battery will last -- in less than 24 hours, we've noticed the KG800 drop from four bars of power to just one. We'll have to wait until fully power cycling the handset before giving our verdict.
Check back soon for the full review. In the meantime, see more photos in our LG Chocolate KG800 image gallery.