[Caution: Loooong post ahead]
After over three years, I have finally changed my mobile phone (to the relief of my friends). The old one is still functioning, but I needed something more to keep me occupied during my 80km daily ride. After a little research and a suggestion from a dear friend, I zeroed in on the Dynamite aka LG KG300.
I was essentially looking for a sub-Rs 10,000 phone with decent features and good looks. With mobile phone prices getting slashed rapidly the sub-10K segment is hotting up, though some of more loaded phones will cost a few grand more. Now on to my dissection of the phone in question:
Why LG? Because I didn't want a Nokia. My first and second phones were Motorola and wanted a change from American style reverse receive and cancel buttons. LG makes good stuff; my family has been a LG fan since we got a Golden Eye television years back.
Price: Yes, that's the most important factor. Though the LG e-shoppe lists the price at Rs 8,990, I got it for Rs 7,710 (with bill) along with a free 512 MB Micro SD card (I got the phone two weeks back). No the dealer didn't round it off, insted he offered me a free !dea connection and a gaudy mobile pouch. The prices should fall more in the coming months. For its features it is the best you can get at that price.
Looks: Well, it is a good-looking phone. The big screen, black and grey combination gives it a sophisticated look. In my opinion Nokia phones in that range aren't droolable. The body is shiny black and the kepads are matte. The shine is a little turnoff for people like me who don't like glossy stuff. I prefer suede or nubuck shoes. The chipped-off edges look good and the grey bar on the sides makes it look slimmer than it actually is.
The blue blinking light on the top left corner (which I've also seen in Samsung phones) is an irritant, but you can turn it off. The LG logo just above the screen should've been absent. All the sockets are covered with flaps and there are buttons on the sides for volume control, camera operation and the music player. The keypads though good looking are prone to making you make some typos.
Features: It has loads of them - that's the USP. Here's what the LG site says:
Music Related Features
* MP3 player
* MP3 ringtones
* Embedded songtones - 2
* FM radio-10 station memory
* FM recording - live FM recording and schedule FM recording
* FM alarm
* Graphic equalisers - normal, bass, dance, class, treble, party, pop, rock
* Camera support - 2.0 mega pixel
* Video recording - unlimited - depends on memory card
* Video playback - 3GP & MPEG format
* Video caller ID
* Photo caller ID
* Digital zoom - 4X
* Continuous shoot - 3/5/9 shots
* Color effects - 14 nos.
* Slide show - manual
* Backlight compensation
* White balance
* Night mode
* Self timer - 5/10/15 secs
* Dimensions (mm) - 102.5 x 47.5 x 16
* Weight (gm) - 89
* Standard battery (mAH) - 800 Li-Ion
* Standby time (hrs) - upto 200
* Talktime (hrs) - upto 2
* LCD - 240x320 pixels
* Number of colours - 262K
* Type - TFT LCD
* Standard accessories - battery, charger, operating manual
* Free accessories - stereophonic headset kit and USB data cable [I also got a 512 MB micro SD card]
* Bluetooth enabled
* Internal memory - 56 MB (USB pen drive)
* External memory - Micro-SD, upto 1GB
* USB charging
* GPRS - class 10
* SMS / MMS
* Predictive Text Input - T9
* WAP - 2.0
* Download/save as support - http://in.lgmobile.com
* Phonebook memory x fields-500 x 7
* Body mass index application
* Mestural application
* Voice recording - AMR/WAV format
* Call conversation recording
* Melody composer
* Message copy from phone to SIM
* Message copy from SIM to phone
* In-flight mode
* Intelligent call - speaks the incoming call number
* Human voice prompt - speaks the stored no. in phonebook
* Speaker phone
* MIDI - 64 Polyphonic, MP3
* Ringer mute button
* Built in games - 3
* Frequency Band - GSM 900/1800/1900
* Voice memo
* World time
* Unit converter
There's a lot of good and a little bad about this feature-packed device. The goods you can assume from the above listed specs. Let me give you a lowdown:
* The FM radio allows storage of only nine channels (though the site says 10). Here in Delhi we already have more channels than I can save on this phone. Therefore you'll have to pick and choose for preset stations if you happen to reside in a high FM-concentration city, else go manual searching.
* Voice recording is a nice feature, especially for us journalists where we needn't use any external devices to record telephonic conversations, or go crazy scribbling notes on a notepad. It also doubles up as a Dictaphone. Moreover you can also record or schedule recordings of radio programmes. The recording quality might not be top of the line, but it is satisfactory. There are two recording formats available amr and wav - amr is lighter and will allow more hours of recording but wav gives better quality and also larger file sizes. And you can save any of the recorded songs as your ring tone.
* The embedded ring tones except one (which I've set as default) didn't sound good to my ears. In addition to the 20 preset tones you can store five more of your choice. The two embedded song tones are definitely an irritation - Jhoom Jhoom and Just Chill aren't the songs I would ever like to hear when someone calls me. Trying to figure out a way to delete them. Though the vibration mode doesn't vibrate enough to let you know of an incoming call while you are walking, some of the ring tones are loud enough to be heard in traffic. And you too have a take at becoming AR Rehman (hopefully not Himesh Reshammiya) with the melody composer.
* There are limited options (only six) for incoming message alerts and you can't also add to it. You can have the phone read out the numbers you are inserting, but that's not that useful a feature. There's also an 'intelligent call' alert which reads out phone numbers to you before the phone starts ringing (this might be helpful while using the headset and the phone is embedded deep into the jeans pocket).
* You can set images or video clips as caller IDs. Fun idea.
* The inflight mode allows you to use the phone while barring it's other functions besides music, so that you can enjoy music while on a flight.
* The music player has eight preset equaliser settings but doesn't have a user-defined option. The inbuilt speaker doesn't sound very good and the earphones are decent. Though not comparable to the quality of standalone digital audio players or Sony's Walkman series, it should keep a not-too-finicky listener happy. But playing music guzzles a lot of battery power.
* Everyone seems to want a camera phone. But my honest suggestion is, if you love photography, go for a digital camera. Camera phones just can't match the results delivered by some of the base models of digicams. Nevertheless, it is always handy to have a camera in the phone for those 'Kodak moments' when you think, "If only I had a camera now." Don't fall for mega pixels. It is just another marketing gimmick. The reasons are here.
The camera boasts of a 4X digital zoom (by the way digital zoom is usually useless; it just crops and enlarges the image, thereby deteriorating the quality. Optical zoom is what you should have). But actually it is only 2X in the still camera mode and 4X for the video camera. There are a lot of preset features to help you get closer to that perfect image. There are a few effects which can be put to interesting uses. The video camera quality leaves a lot to be desired.
* The screen is exceptionally bright and but you can't reduce the brightness. The colour display is vibrant. But all these takes a toll on the battery. There aren't also much options to customise the screen display and you have to keep yourself content with the few available options.
* It has Java and a few pre-loaded not-so interesting games. You'll need to download some to keep yourself occupied.
* There are a few interesting extra features like the handy world clock (with a world map) which tells you the time of 60 prominent international cities. There's a unit converter which converts kilogrammes into pounds, kilogrammes into ounces, kilometres into miles, miles into yards, miles into feet, centimetres into inches and also the other war round. It also calculates your body mass index. And for women, there's a special feature - the menstrual calendar. And for the money minded - a currency converter. The interface is quite fast and it responds almost immediately.
Battery: It comes with a lithium ion 800 mAh battery promising 200 hours of standby and two hours of talk time. Two hours of talk time is a little less for the chatterboxes. The battery also tends to drain out fast while using the multimedia features. It has USB charging therefore you don't have to worry about carrying the charger every time; a standard USB cable (it comes equipped with one) should do the job for you. But while using the phone to transfer data to/from a PC, it needs to be shut down. A little hassle, as you might just miss some calls during that period.
Software: Though there's no software that accompanies the phone when you purchase it. You can download the relevant software and drivers for the LG KG300 from the links below [Links updated. Dead links removed] [Added alternative Rapidshare download links - 080414]:
PC Sync [zip 2.90 MB] [Alternative link]
USB driver [zip 131.7 KB] [Alternative link]
Modem driver [zip 3.9 KB] [Alternative link]
A detailed LG KG300 manual can be downloaded from here [PDF 1.66 MB] [Alternative link]
Here are some samples of results from the phone:
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And some advertisements (sorry couldn't help it):
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Rating: I would give the LG KG 300 a rating of 7.5/10. It's value for money and almost lives up to the 'Dynamite' tag.
Note: The web browsing and Bluetooth capabilities of the phone were not tested.