LG Arena Review: Almost but not quite
I’ve been using the LG Arena for a few weeks now and am now ready to give my review on this feature phone. Do note that the unit is out-of-the-box and I didn’t do any firmware upgrades so my experience may vary from others.
The LG Arena (KM900) has all the features that could rival or even surpass the popular iPhone. Just to name a few:
- 3-inch touch screen (480×800)
- 5 MP camera with 4x optical zoom and video recording capability
- Can play DivX or mp4 movies
- FM Radio and Transmitter
- 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth
- Can act as a storage device with proprietary USB cable
- 8GB internal memory and microSD (up to 32GB) slot
Sounds pretty impressive right? Based on those features, the iPhone’s only advantage are the apps. So can the LG Arena be a substitute for the iPhone?
The build of the LG Arena looks and feels sturdy with its metal faceplate. The 105g weight just feels right without making it feel toy-ish.
It runs on LG’s S-Class Touch UI which allows you to have a cube-driven navigation system. You can add shortcuts for each of the 4 available faces of the cube and it’s pretty simple to navigate through it. It looks cool at first but over time it will lose its appeal. Heh.
The 5-megapixel camera (Schneider-Kreuznach optics) with flash is pretty decent to use for blogs or Facebook pictures. Here are a couple of shots I took with it:
It would be good if it also has different white balance options. Only think you can tweak is the flash setting, macro mode and exposure.
The LG Arena also has a front camera for video calls by the way.
The LG Arena is one badass media player phone. It can play DivX files as well as iPhone mp4 videos on its clear, wide screen display. Not only that but with an A/V cable (not included), you can hook it up to your TV to view your photos and videos.
It cannot play your typical downloaded videos if the frame rate is too high. You still have to convert it for mobile video.
One cool thing about the LG Arena is its FM Transmitter. You can transmit music from your phone to any frequency that can be picked up by your car radio. You can’t override the strong signals of our radio stations blaring on the bus though. Hehehe.
Connecting to a WiFi is pretty easy and it can also has a built-in web browser for your surfing needs. You can also use the Arena as a 3G modem for your laptop or PC or just use its 3G connection to surf if WiFi is unavailable.
Unfortunately, for some reason you can’t watch YouTube vids while connected via WiFi but you can when using 3G. But I heard they fixed this already in their latest firmware.
If you connect the LG Arena to your PC, you can choose if you want to use it as a storage device. This will allow you to quickly put or retrieve files from your device.
You also have the option to sync it to your PC ala-iTunes. LG Arena includes a software that organizes your music (complete with tags and album art), videos, contacts, notes, etc. that you can easily sync with your device.
There are 3 games included in the test unit and all are motion-activated like Tepong which converts your phone into a ping pong paddle and you have to bounce the ball on it as much as you can.
You can also download mobile Java games to play on the LG Arena.
So with those cool features (there’s more that I didn’t mention), one would think that the LG Arena is a really amazing phone. Well almost, but not quite and here’s what I am griping about:
- UI response is slow. I’m talking about a second when clicking the write message then another second to view the contacts list. This doesn’t apply to all features but you will notice it when composing a message.
- Transitions are not smooth. Again, on some areas like scrolling through contacts gives you a choppy transition.
- Cramped keyboard in landscape mode. It took me about two weeks to get the hang of typing on its alphanumeric keyboard (portrait mode) but I still can’t type quickly on its cramped qwerty keyboard. I don’t have large fingers at all, it’s just that the keyboard layout is pretty tight.
- Clunky built-in browser. I tried browsing via WiFi and for some reason, browsing on the Arena is slower than on my iPod Touch. Pinching to zoom in or out is a bit wonky too.
- Auto-Lock can be a hindrance. When you call a person, the UI lock will automatically trigger to prevent you from pressing other buttons by accident. However, if you accidentally call a person or try to miss-call somebody, you have to unlock the phone first before you can drop the call which might be too late.
The LG Arena is one heck of a media phone with a decent camera to boot that can be handy at times. The screen is big and clear and the being able to play DivX files is a big plus not to mention it’s huge internal capacity.
Before purchasing though, I would highly suggest that you play around with it first doing things you normally need for a phone. Try to check if firmware upgrades will improve the phone’s responsiveness as well. Oh and read the manual to fully maximize its capabilities.
Price: Php20,100 – Php24,500 (according to Cgena.com)