LG Viewty Smart (GC900) review

The next-generation of LG camera phone, not an iPhone-wannabe.

LG Viewty Smart GC900
The camera is the Viewty Smart's main selling point

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As previously mentioned, the LG Viewty Smart builds on the success of the original Viewty, boosting the specification to match the best that 2009 has to offer.

While it looks like a smartphone, and has definite smartphone functions, the new Viewty GC900 is primarily a camera phone – a potential digital camera-killer.

LG viewty smart

The 8 Megapixel Schneider-Kreuznach lens is the dominant feature and it makes it obvious that less attention has been lavished on some of the phone's other features.

So rather than compare the LG Viewty Smart to the iPhone 3GS, Palm Pre and the HTC Magic, it slots into a segment of the market where the Samsung Pixon, Sony Ericsson Cyber-shot C905 and Nokia N86 do battle.

These handsets aren't designed specifically to rival the iPhone. Yes, they've been inspired by it, and yes, they often blatantly ape some of the iPhone's better features.

But, without the core iTunes integration and without an App Store that can deliver hundreds of new games, widgets, applications and utilities over-the-air, the Viewty Smart and handsets like it are second class smartphones.

If building phones was purely about who's got the best technical specification, then the iPhone wouldn't be the worldwide success that it is today.

The LG Viewty has a better camera, superior video recording, an FM radio, expandable storage and a battery that you can actually remove... But when it comes to the 'experience', something about the new Viewty can leave you cold. Nothing truly hangs together. S

Don't make the mistake of thinking that the LG Viewty Smart is a cutting-edge smartphone and iPhone alternative. It isn't. LG doesn't pretend that it's anything else but an 8 Megapixel camera phone. And once you get that into your head, it's easy to appreciate what the LG Viewty is best at (and where it cuts small technical corners). For example...

We liked: There's much to like about the LG Viewty Smart. Obviously, it can take high-quality pictures with its 8MP camera and the Intelligent Shot technology makes it easier to get the perfect photo first time around. It's also a capable music/video player; connects easily to a PC or Mac; and can boost its storage above 32GB with a microSD card.

We disliked: The web browser is fairly poor, barely coping with some HTML pages whilst defaulting to WAP-based mobile versions where possible. Online connectivity is one feature you can't afford to get wrong. Where's the Facebook and Twitter integration? Why bother with a proprietary RSS reader when you could use Google's software? The lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack is also annoying.

Final verdict

A cracking camera phone that could easily replace a mid-range digital compact camera. But as a smartphone... the LG Viewty Smart isn't as smart as it hopes to be and certainly not versatile enough to threaten the big boys.

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