LG Shine Mobile Review – Ready to Dazzle
LG Shine â€“ Can Lightning strike twice?
Update: Support Forum now here!
LG Mobile has had great success with the LG Chocolate mobile phone, attracting many fans due to its sleek design and functionality. Now with the LG Shine debuting on Feb 7th 2007 in the UK they hope that they can achieve the same if not more success as the Chocolate, especially as it is the second in the line of LGâ€™s Black Label series.
Thanks to a very positive contribution to modern news casting by LG Mobile, they have selected bloggers to preview the mobile phone ahead of its official release. We at eMagi are thankful and pleased to Gaylene Ravenscroft for allowing us to be contributing in such a movement and applaud LG Mobileâ€™s efforts in embracing new trends instead of fighting against them.
The first thing you will notice about the packaging is that they have taken note of the fashion and fragrance industry. The Chocolate was presented attractively and the same applies for the Shine â€“ Gone are the days where a simple box will suffice. Please note that the packaging is still in pre-production and so there could be changes.
Sporting clean lines and textures it draws your attention to the product, using quality cardboard with a reflective silver embellished finish. Upon opening the box I was expecting a magnetic flap akin to a decent fragrance box and was pleased to find exactly that. With the lid drawn the mobile phone is found on the right in full view with the cables and contents hidden by a thin piece of cardboard. Inside you will find the LG Shine, UK mains charger, 3.7v battery (800mAh), a USB cable, hands free kit with remote and headphones. No manual was within the package or CD as everything is still in the pre-release phase.
Update: A forum thread is now dedicated to the LG Shine here for further discussion!
Enough with the boxâ€¦ What about the LG Shine?
One thing you will notice right away is the screen having a mirror surface, perfect for those who wish to check up on appearances while being out. The last thing you want to do is to walk around with a bit of red sauce left on your faceâ€¦ It has happened to be once already! Bypassing this fashion driven addition you will be greeted with a 2.2inch TFT screen with a resolution of 240×320. I am unsure about the colour depth but it seems pretty similar to my Sony Ericsson W900 â€“ Colours a vibrant with good contrast offered in the images. The LG Shine also has 45MB of internal memory which is pretty poor by modern standards but it has an expansion slot for a MicroSD memory card which helps greatly for storage.
Looking at the LG Shine in its closed format, it does look very attractive with the large mirror surface dominating the real estate. I must admit that my first impressions were not overly favourable but after spending some time with it, its clean and minimalist design has grown on me. Also its form format by being only 14mm thick, 94mm tall and 51mm wide it is a comfortable size to hold. Weighing in at 115g as well it is not that heavy, especially when you consider that the case consists of brushed metal â€“ Adding to that fashionable, luxury feel.
When you hold it though you do feel like you are holding a quality item thanks to the weight and the brushed metal casing. Having the phone in my pocket was a concern as I didn’t want the screen scratched with my keys and change, but in my other pocket it was fine. Thanks to the form factor you don’t notice it until you get a call or text.
All you have on the face are four buttons for menu navigation (with two of them raised) and a scroll wheel. The raised buttons for me are a bit cramped together and since it has a smooth texture, there is nothing to identify them via touch for instant use. Perhaps having the buttons tapered or slightly slanted away would have solved this issue. To slide it open I find myself using the raised buttons to act as a point of friction and there is the right amount of resistance for me before it does slide.
Once done so you are greeted with a chime of which there are four to choose from but no customised option. They keypad again reflects the minimalist nature of the phone and the keys are illuminated in a light purple hue. They keypad itself offers a firm tactile response upon key presses so over use I would expect it to be a lot lighter, especially for those who text often. The flat nature though might cause some problems to those who enjoy slightly raised buttons â€“ It does take time to adjust.
The right hand side has controls such as volume, dedicated MP3 Player button, Camera and the propriety LG interface for the charger, hands free kit plus headphones and USB connections. The connector itself is protected by a plastic flap which is flimsy to say the least. Unlike rubber flaps on other mobiles, this one acts like a hinge that once you pull out, swings around out of the way. It could easily be broken by accident. While it is commendable to have such a connector on the side, it could have easily been on the bottom and a slider cover used. The left side is untouched while the back has the 2 mega pixel digital camera Schneider-Kreuznach lens with mirror and flash LED. In all it is an unfussy layout for ease of use with one hand which works.
The user interface
The operating system it seems is proprietary and not open like Symbian – To a power user like myself I hope that LG will make it easy for companies to develop software for their phone as such applications do add value. However I suspect that the market the LG Shine is aimed at will not care so much.
The default theme is a clean one and makes use of the integrated Flash support. The standby menu however could be improved upon as it sits in the lower middle of the screen, obstructing any nice wallpaper image you might have set. Also there seems to be no way to customise parts of the shortcut menu either to your own preference so it forces LGâ€™s layout upon you.
Scrolling up with the wheel sends you to the SMS menu but only to the Inbox and Voicemail option, no â€œCreate new Messageâ€ which I find odd. When people want to send a quick SMS to someone they have to go through a longer process than needed.
Scrolling down lets you select the phone profiles such as silent, general, outdoor etc which is also an odd choice. I say this because how often does a user change profiles in a day? Most phones simply have a one button hold to activate â€œSilent modeâ€ for example on the keypad which is sufficient enough. By giving profiles such a high priority on the main menu without any kind of customisation I find is a waste and poorly thought out.
The left key is a shortcut to your contacts of which is a good idea and the right key enables your Favourites menu. Here you can select up to nine customised shortcuts to any item which makes up for the lack of control over the other items. When using the scroll wheel though it is not very responsive but I presume this was done on purpose to prevent accidental movement when pressing the scroll wheel down to confirm things, which does happen.
The main menu itself is well laid out and clear in its use with a design highlighting the purpose of having a scroll wheel on a mobile phone. From here you have these sub menus to go into:
– Call History
– My Stuff
I wonâ€™t go into depth about all of these menus as it is self explanatory to work out and use. Instead I will mention some quirks I have found with the operating system and softwareâ€¦ One is the MP3 Player itself. The startup time to the MP3 player is impressive compared to my Sony Ericsson W900 as it only takes a second however once there you are devoid of any options to change the equaliserâ€¦ Mainly because one doesnâ€™t exist! Not only that there does not seem to be an easy way to add any MP3s you have transferred to the mobile if they are in a separate folder. Instead it seems the MP3 Player software only reads MP3s within the default folder and nothing else. With the lack of equaliser and any form of playlists, you would have to manually add your MP3s to the default folder to listen to them on the go â€“ Not a great you like to have music organised by album, artist or genre. Whatâ€™s worse is that there is no random option as well so I really hope LG will solve this issue via a firmware update.
Thankfully though the audio is loud and pretty clear for such a phone and through the headphones the audio quality is decent but I would recommend using a better pair than the ones packaged to get the most out of it.
Other small things include the contacts as it defaults in displaying the surname and then first name, but does not give the option to reverse that for those who are used to that setup.
A major annoyance is the texting process as well… Imagine you are writing out a long message to someone and you accidentally press the â€œHang upâ€ button… Wave goodbye to that text! There is no â€œSave to Draftsâ€ prompt as soon as you hit that key. Again it can be solved from a firmware update and hopefully the final release model will correct it.
The built in browser as well is pretty poor in my eyes… Especially when you compare it to the current standard of mobile browsers â€“ Opera Mini. If I had my way, every mobile phone would have Opera Mini as standard on their mobile. It is however still functional but if you do use your mobile phone for the internet then its best to get the free download from their site.
One amusing quirk I found with this phone is the dialling graphical styles that you can choose when inputting numbers. All of them are not suited and unprofessional for such a high quality mobile phone in my opinion. While it can look attractive to have all the numbers in different colours, have them animated as balls etc I feel that it does not match the phone itself and ruins the experience rather than enhancing. Instead a much slicker interface should have been used making more use of the internal Flash support to match the quality finish and look of the LG Shine.
Unless its a hidden option as well there is no status screen like on other mobile phones to know exactly how much battery you have in percentage or in time, how much memory is left internally and externally, networks available and other pieces of information. Such a thing is handy to look at a glance and would be a welcome addition.
The LG Shine is equipped with a 2 megapixel camera with autofocus and picture quality generally is decent. There is a lot of graining as expected but at 1600×1200 it will suffice for taking recognisable pictures. The light for the LG Shine it seems has to be activated manually via the menu causing it to stay on constantly and there is no option to have it flash when taking a picture. The menu covers the usual suspectsâ€¦
– Shot Mode
– Self Timer
– Save location
– Multi Shot
– Colour Effects
– White Balance
– Shutter tone
Here are some images taken with the LG Shine.
Taking a picture is simplicity itself and the phone does not require being open. There is a dedicated Photo button on the right hand side to activate it and taking pictures can either be done via the same button or by depressing the scroll wheel. The auto focus takes around a second and then the image is taken at quite a slow shutter speed so you need to have steady hands to avoid blurring or enable multi-shot.
Using the bluetooth was a breeze to connect to my laptop, PC and other mobile phones. Transfer speeds were good and no glitches found. When using the USB cable though in Mass Storage mode, under Windows XP it automatically adds two removable drives to My Computer â€“ One for internal and one for external storage. This tends to work without a hitch but on one occasion I connected the mobile phone via USB to find that both removable drives were empty, thus not allowing any data transfers. I suspect this was due because I did not â€œsafely remove devicesâ€ by disabling the connection via Windows first before disconnecting the USB Cable. The solution when this happens? Reboot the mobile phone and it will work once again.
The LG Shine also allows a USB connection for data service purposes such as using it as a modem. Windows XP did not have any drivers available, even when connected to the net. I suspect that the finished package will come with a CD with the appropriate drivers to enable such a feature.
Also when the mobile phone is connected by USB cable the network is turned off so you cannot make any calls or text. The menu is also disabled so basically all functions cease to exist as the camera establishes a data link with the computer while charging.
I left the review late because I wanted to give it a good few days worth of use before giving my opinion on this phone. The battery life has been quite good however I have not used it as an MP3 player. Call quality have been consistent and clear however I would have liked the volume to be louder for use in the city. Other than the text niggles, browser, the keys next to the scroll wheel and the graphics when dialling, there are not many other negatives.
In all the LG Shine does many things superbly and gives off the right impression. With a few operating system tweaks, some better themes and better software it could be a serious killer mobile. Instead it ranks highly and would be a mobile to look out for if you are in the market for a simple and elegant mobile.
– Beautiful design
– Mirror face
– Scroll wheel
– Metal casing
– Form factor
– Battery Life
– Speaker volume and quality
– Flash support
– Main menu customisation
– Browser functionality
– Left and Right scroll wheel buttons not distinctive enough
– SMS niggles
– Poor MP3 software
– Not enough Flash use in operating system
– Call volume could be higher
– Childlike dialling graphics
Also available is the LG Shine PC software called MobileSync LGE GSM PC Sync.
Update: For more discussion you can now check out our forum which should help out with faster response times to questions!