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Review: LG KG920 5 Megapixel Cameraphone Exhaustively Tested

Review by Samuel Chan on Sunday August 20, 2006.

lg kg920 · cell phone reviews · lg news · cell phone news · samuel chan

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There has been a camera phone war going on this summer, with the introduction of the Sony Ericsson K800i, Nokia N73 and N93, and the LG KG920. The list is not going to stop here, though; we are still waiting for devices from Samsung, Benq-Siemens, and ASUS. LG showed off its first 5 megapixel cameraphone, the SV550 (also known as the KV5500 and LP5500) back in May 2005, and since then, its PR mailbox had been flooded with enthusiastic petitions asking for a GSM clone. It has taken the company more than a year of hesitation before introducing the SV550's GSM counterpart, KG920, outside Korea. This delay is mainly due to the shortage of suitable camera modules, especially when domestic demand was so high. Production cost also plays a role, due to both the camera module and the Qualcomm MSM6500 chipset that the phone is based around being so expensive.

After the success of the Chocolate series of handsets, LG hopes to ride on the wave of its suddenly increased brand awareness, and launch the "ultimate" camera phone. Today we will see if the KG920 can live up to the company's expectations.

Since stock is extremely limited in the region right now, please excuse the Cyrillic keypad on our review device. We did manage to confirm that the firmware is Asia Pacific, however.

Physical Aspects

Model Size Weight
LG KG920 108mm x 50mm x 18mm
(4.25" x 1.97" x 0.71")
Nokia 3250 103.8mm x 50mm x 19.8mm
(4.09" x 1.97" x 0.78")
Nokia N73 110mm x 49mm x 19mm
(4.33" x 1.92" x 0.75")
Nokia N93 118mm x 55.5mm x 28.2mm
(4.95" x 1.19" x 1.11")
Sharp 903 109mm x 50mm x 29mm
(4.29" x 1.97" x 1.14")
Sony Ericsson K800i 105mm x 47mm x 22mm
(4.13" x 1.85" x 0.87")

The KG920 is one funny looking device, reminding me of a 1960s impression of a future walkie-talkie. The design is one of a kind, and you either like it or hate it. It is ironic that neither the front nor the back looks too much like a phone. The front looks like a lab machine full of buttons, and the back looks like a digital camera, with a manual lens cover, LED lamp, and Xenon flash. The device is definitely not the smallest around, but at the same time, it might not be as big as you think. In fact, it is just about the same size as the Nokia N73, and as heavy as a Sharp 903. The exact measurements are shown in the table to the right.

The KG920 consists of two parts joined by a rotating hinge. The top part includes the screen on the front and the battery on the back, and the lower part houses the keypad on the front and camera module on the back. As opposed to the rotating Nikon cameras and the Nokia 3250, the lens is directly behind the keypad, instead of on the edge of the device. If you wish to take self-portraits, you can simply rotate the camera around 180 degrees. The screen and the camera will now be on the same face. If you are a keen photographer, the rotating mechanism also allows you to take pictures from a very low angle. I am happy to report that the hinge feels extremely solid, just like the rest of the phone. With the included Xenon flash, the KG920 is also great for party pictures.

The front of KG920 is a mess of buttons. The three soft keys are placed on top of the numeric keypad, whereas the d-pad and cancel button are to the right, similar to the newer LG U400. Obviously, this arrangement is more favorable to right handed people. Considering the overall size of the phone, the buttons are quite small (number keys are 6mm x 3mm, or 0.24" x 0.12"). Thanks to the strong tactile feedback, the keypad may be acceptable if you have small fingers. The worrying part, however, is the paint on the handset - including both the body and the buttons. The pea-shaped softkeys are quite hard to press, and you might risk scratching off the paint if you use your fingernails. After a week of careful usage, I have managed to scratch the battery cover and the rim around the screen.

The shutter button and volume keys are all kept on one side, leaving the miniSD slot, headset jack and power/data connector on the opposite side. Next to the 2" screen on the front are four more backlit buttons. Depending on what mode the phone is in, these are shortcut keys for the MP3 player, calendar, camera flash, timer settings, or digital zoom. The whole keypad is illuminated orange, and in dark settings, the light is even and more than sufficient.

Apart from the paint issues and the keypad, I am quite happy with the physical aspects of KG920 overall. Yes, it might be as big as a candy bar should ever get, even too big to fit comfortably in a pocket, but I guess the bulk is can be excused for its camera specifications.

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About the author

Samuel Chan
Sam Chan is MobileBurn's roving reporter and reviewer in Hong Kong, where he has access to all sorts of toys the rest of us just can't have.

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