The Apple iPhone (opens in new tab) hype has been so overwhelming that it's easy to forget that there are other damn good phones out there at the moment.
The LG KU990, dubbed Viewty, is a recent favourite of ours. In the same way as the Apple iPhone is instantly appealing, the LG Viewty is beautiful to look at and one of the best-looking phones we've seen. It features an impressive 5-megapixel camera complete with auto-focus and xenon flash.
The real star of the show is the 3-inch LCD touchscreen which lets you type text and email messages, view images, browse the web, shoot video and much more. The touchscreen is amazingly responsive and is also set to vibrate when you enter a command. This gives you a more tactile sense of touching the screen than with standard displays.
The vibrating feature is also useful when typing in a SMS text message or a phone number. The numeric or alphabetic keypad on the touchscreen works in the same way as a standard mobile phone keypad, but without the traditional mechanical buttons.
There's also a handwriting recognition option which you can use for typing emails and text messages. We found this function slow and fiddly though - it was a lot quicker just tapping the touchscreen keypad.
The back of the device looks like any compact digital camera. The main feature, the 5-megapixel lens, sits at one end. We would have preferred if the lens was actually covered when not in use, as it's now unprotected from dust. The xenon flash and auto-focus light is beside the lens.
As for taking pictures, the LG Viewty offers the same camera modes and functionalities as compact digital cameras. You can adjust the size of images, picture quality, ISO and white balance, as well as use the digital stabilisation function to reduce blur.
When you're done shooting you can view your photos in the photo viewer which displays pictures as if you'd laid them out on a table. You can flick through them with your finger - a bit like you use the Cover Flow option in iTunes - or view in the standard mode, all lined up next to each other. You can zoom in on, or open up, a photo by resting your finger on the picture for a couple of seconds.
The real draw is the LG Viewty's photo-editing functionalities, which is one of the best we've seen on a phone. You can quickly add text, music, and morphing effects to your photos. Our photos turned out well when viewing on a computer screen, and looked great when printed out.
The camera lens is surrounded by a sliding disc that lets you scroll through menus, zoom in and out on web pages, adjust the call volume, plus zoom in and out in camera mode. It is a useful function but feels a bit fiddly and sometimes didn't work as well as we would have liked.
The LG Viewty also shoots video at 120 frames per second, which allows you to slow it down and watch it in slow-motion when you play it back. Videos can be uploaded straight to YouTube with just one button. Switching between photo and video mode is easily done via the dedicated buttons along the side of the handset.
The huge screen also makes web browsing ideal; the LG Viewty is one of the best web-enabled handsets we've seen. You can view full-size web pages and zoom in on particular sections in the same way you can with the Apple iPhone. The LG Viewty offers HSDPA connectivity so web browsing and downloading was quick and easy. A five-minute music track downloaded in about 20 seconds, for example.
The LG Viewty is well-designed; it is light to carry but its stylish looks would appeal to any fashionista. The touchscreen does get messy from fingerprints, and could potentially get scratched if kept in a bag with your keys and other essentials.
There's nothing to complain about when it comes to audio quality - it was loud and clear during calls. We also liked the video calling functionality, which really comes to life thanks to the large screen. The speaker functionality is also good when playing tunes from the built-in MP3 player.
Battery life is good - an average user could easily make the battery last well over two days but if you tend to take lots of photos and surf the web a lot, then a daily charge is probably recommended.
We think this is one of the best phones around at the moment, and a definitive challenger to the Apple iPhone. The impressive camera, responsive and easy-to-use touchscreen and high-speed internet connectivity, all crammed in to a very stylish body, makes this one of LG's best ever phones, along with the LG Prada phone.
The LG KU990 Viewty is available now on all major networks, from free on some monthly contracts.