LG KC550

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It’s quite stunning what mobile phone manufacturers are coming out with these days. I remember a time when one-megapixel resolution camera phones were a big thing, but you fast forward to today and it appears that excitement has been lost with a large number of phones toting five-megapixels or more. Whilst most of these are still typically reserved for the higher end models requiring contracts and a signature on the dotted line, LG have crossed the line of acceptance. The KC550 is LG’s attempt at bringing high-end features without a high price tag.

The LG KC550 features a five-megapixel camera with a Schneider Kreuznach lens. Immediately, for a phone that can be had for little over £100, you can see there are two things that are quite peculiar. First, you don’t expect a £100 phone to have a five-megapixel camera, and second if it did, then it probably wouldn’t have a brand name lens attached to the end of it. The KC550 delivers on both with a lens that is often found in big name manufacturers of cameras, Kodak being one of them. So there’s the first surprise, but that’s not it. Hold on to your seat, because there’s more.

Video recording comes courtesy of an AMD chip that helps it along with multimedia processing. This allows the KC550 the ability to record video up to 720 x 480 resolution video at 30 frames per second. That’s an unheard of figure for even higher end phones, let alone the entry-level range.

Ok, so it’s got great video and photography abilities. But what else? How about an accelerometer built-in! This feature was made famous by the iPhone, is now available in a phone costing a fraction of the price. In case you haven’t come across one before, an accelerometer is able to detect what position you have your phone in, upright or on its side, by reacting to the force of gravity. The software reads this and will affect what happens on your phone. For example, when viewing a landscape image, a simple turn of the camera and the image rotates to fit the screen. Or you can have some fun with it. A bunch of games are included which uses the accelerometer as the primary controller.

My initial impression of the physical dimensions of this phone is that it’s just a tad bit too bulky for my liking. However it had a solid and well-built feel to the chassis. I don’t know what’s going on in the minds of these designers, but one thing I have noticed is that phones from the past 24 months have bloated in design following a period of miniaturisation, so perhaps this is the ‘in-thing’ right now?

The KC550 uses a sliding keypad hidden behind the screen. The front fascia is finished in a glossy black with a silver trim around the edge of the unit. The design definitely screams LG with its simple form and works well to a certain extent. The screen is a decent sized 2.4-inches and capable of displaying up to 262k colours, very clear and viewable in broad daylight. With the keypad extended, you’ve got yourself quite a hefty handset, but the buttons are easy to press and is generous in size with a chequered chrome and black design. At the back, the camera is neatly tucked behind a brushed aluminium sliding lens. Sliding it open activates the camera and the LED flash.

One thing that this phone does lack is a 3G chip and it’s a tri-band phone as opposed to quad band, which no doubt was omitted to save cost and cannibalising the higher-end market, but it does have Bluetooth (with A2DP support for stereo headphones). The usual multimedia, internet and messaging software is included as well as a microSD slot for expanding the memory up to 4GB – which you’ll probably need since the phone only has a minute amount of free memory. You’ll also find the proprietary headphone jack a bit of a disappointment since it means you can’t plug in your own headphones for listening to the radio or your own tunes.

The KC550 is exceptionally good value for money and will prove popular for those who are looking for a good snapper phone without an expensive contract or any ties. It’s got a range of features that are typically reserved for the higher-end market, and even a trick or two that more expensive phones don’t have.

2008-09-14 Onwah Tsang

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