A back-to-basics phone that does the simple things well
Excellent call quality
Easy to use/menu interface
No external screen
Camera only VGA quality
Limited set of features
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Not everyone wants a cutting edge feature-packed, multi-function handset and for those who prefer their phone svelte rather than stacked, LG has slipped in the wallet-friendly KG225.
Light on the pocket in both ways, this cameraphone, which has been signed up as a T-Mobile exclusive, weighs in at a mere 70g and checks out at an affordable £80 on pre-pay.
LG has chosen a clamshell design for the KG225, and the overall feel manages to combine both portability and durability. The handset flips open to reveal a vibrant 65k colour screen, and an easy-to-use keypad.
All of the controls are of a good size, and we found them to be suitably responsive. Usability is also helped by the fact that features like the camera, SMS composition, Contacts and Wap activation all get their own dedicated keys for quick, easy access.
Light on features
There is, though, an absence of external features - primarily no secondary display, so you can't tell who's calling you or cast a quick glance to double-check if that was a text coming through.
LG is also supplying an Orange version of this handset, the KG220, which has the same spec and is similarly priced. With LG seeing the compact stylings of the KG225 as one of its main selling points, it's pleasing to report that there's still room to include a respectable set of features on the handset.
Most notable among these is the camera, which has a maximum VGA resolution (640x480 pixels), as well as lower res 320x240, 160x120 and 48x48 (for thumbnail phonebook entries) modes.
With most new mobiles squeezing in megapixel snappers, this is one area where you'll notice the price-sensitive spec. But if you simply want to snap'n'send, it'll still do the job for fun photo messaging at least.
The handset squeezes in three quality settings for your images - Fine, Normal and Basic - along with brightness modes, a couple of picture effects (Sepia and Black & White), and a built-in flash. There's even a 4x digital zoom, though this isn't available when using the 640x480 mode.
The lens for the camera is on the top of the handset and when flipped open it's very easy to start snapping quickly, while the lens placement also makes it very easy to avoid getting your fingers in the way of a picture.
The camera functions are rounded out by the inclusion of a continuous shooting option that, when activated in the menu system, allows you to take nine images in very quick succession. It's a great feature for making sure you capture the moment, rather than just missing out on it with a single shot.
What the KG225 can't do, however, is to take and store moving video footage. This is due to the relatively small internal memory - just 3MB - and lack of capacity for any expandable memory, such as microSD cards.
Despite this, the handset does have the standard ability to handle downloads, and it's possible to add to the 40 polyphonic ringtones that are pre-loaded with new ones from a variety of sites.
Using the Wap browser you can head to T-Mobile's 't-zones' and access news, info, wallpapers, music and pictures, or if you prefer you can enter the URL and visit a site of your choice. You can then bookmark your favourite sites.
Unfortunately, we found that while the handset established a GPRS connection for browsing and downloading relatively quickly, scrolling through the selection screens was a slow process.
Two Java-powered games are pre-installed on the KG225, which can be found in the Applications menu. They are the addictive maths-game-of-the-moment Sudoku and the slightly less challenging Halloween Fever.
Both feature very basic graphics and gameplay. You can add to your array of games by visiting the t-zones and downloading new ones. However, the size of the KG225's internal memory will prevent you storing a large selection.
As far as calls and messaging go, the handset is a triband model, and as such offers transatlantic roaming.
At this budget level, it's no real surprise that there's no MP3 or video player. Standard text and picture message options are present and correct, though the small screen (and large text size) does mean that you can't fit many words on a screen when messaging; none-the-less the clarity is good and it's handy for the short-sighted amongst us...
There's the capacity for 500 numbers and names in the phonebook, plus additional space on your SIM card.
Delving into the Applications menu reveals an array of useful and diverting functions. Among them is an alarm clock that enables you to set up to five different alarms, a world time indicator so you can straddle the globe in a few clicks, and a voice recorder. This last one is a touch disappointing as it will only record messages lasting 20 seconds or less.
Schedule and memo functions are available within the calendar settings, which you can access from the main menu screen. The calendar is displayed with a month to a page, with the current date highlighted to let you know just how long's left until the weekend.
One of the most reassuring aspects about the KG225's performance is its excellent call quality. There is virtually no distortion on voice calls, and the clarity, tone and overall feel is warm. The call volume level can be raised and lowered easily, and even when the volume is on maximum the audio quality is not compromised.
The battery life is healthy. During our tests the KG225 lasted for over 80 hours standby, with over 38 minutes of calls, plus around 10 minutes of Wap browsing. This is on top of the general use we made of the handset.
There isn't really anything to criticise in the major areas of the KG225's performance. It isn't going to shake up the market, but that's not what it's aimed at.
If what you really want from a mobile phone is convenience and compact design rather than a bucket-load of features, then it could be just what you're looking for. Robert Hull
Camera: The snapper is a VGA quality device, but it has no video recording capability
Compact design: The tiny footprint and light weight of the KG225 wins the battle of the bulge
Display: The compact design means a small display inside the clamshell and no secondary external screen
T-zones access: Fast access to T-Mobile's Wap portal via a specially marked key on the numberpad
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