Review by Samuel Chan on Thursday June 21, 2007.
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LG Shine KE970
LG Shine KE970
LG Shine KE970
LG is hoping to repeat the success story of the Chocolate phone with a new line of products under the Black Label Series: the all-mirror, all-metallic new Shine label. The idea of a series of similarly styled designer handsets is nothing new, but there is yet to be a company that could turn the concept into a worldwide sensation like LG. Today we will take a look at the LG KE970 Shine slider, and try to understand why it has managed to sell over 1 million units in just 4 months after launch.
At first glance, the KE970 looks more like a pocket make-up case with a glossy bezel than a phone. Even if you look closely, it is very hard to see the screen when it is not active. Comfortably sized at 99.8mm x 50.6mm x 13.8mm (3.93" x 1.99" x 0.54"), the phone feels slightly heavier than average but very solid. The handset is made of real stainless steel, and the brushed finishing on the back and 119g (4.2oz) of weight gives the phone a stable feel in the hand. Located right underneath the screen is a thumb wheel for vertical scrolling, which also acts as an enter button if you press inwards. The engineering here feels extremely solid, which is also evident with the left and right buttons directly adjacent to the wheel. The left and right buttons are a little stiff and can be slippery to press at times due to their shape. Unlike the Chocolate phones, touch sensitive buttons are nowhere to be found. The soft keys on both sides are mounted on the same plate as the wheel and have excellent tactile feedback.
The overall design of the body is very clean, with the left side and the bottom of the phone completely free of any buttons. The strap hole and battery cover release keys are found on the top, whereas the power and headphone jack, volume control, camera shutter, and music shortcut keys are all located on the right side. The microSD memory card slot is hidden under the battery cover but, despite this, hot swapping of the card is supported.
The camera module, located on the back of the phone, comes with an LED flash and a small mirror for self-portrait photos. Near the camera, you can see the company name and the text 'Schneider-Kreuznach,' the company that makes the camera's lens, engraved and matched perfectly with the rest of the metal. The brushed finish on the back of the device does not attract fingerprints as much as the glossy front. The finish also gives the device a more macho look, making it more appealing to style-conscious executives.
Sliding open the phone requires anchoring with the help of the thumb wheel, and the mechanism feels very solid and clicks confidently into place. The laser-etched keypad looks more Sci-Fi than Motorola RAZR-like, and it lights up in an attractive sky blue in the dark. The rest of the keys illuminate with a darker blue that is common on other handsets, but still matches well with the whole design.
The alphanumeric keys are appropriately sized and tactile feedback is excellent. The positioning of the end and send keys with the keypad did cause us a little trouble though, as accidentally pressing the end key will quit out of whatever you are doing. We were glad to find sufficient space between the bottom row of the keys and the edge of the upper slide though, making the upper keys of the keypad easy to press.
Overall, I am very happy with the design of the KE970 apart from the keypad, which could be improved. The only other comment to be made is about the glossy front surface; the surface is not completely rigid, so you will find your face distorted as if you were in the Hall of Mirrors at an amusement park if you try to use it as a mirror. This is not a big issue, but don't expect the phone to replace your pocket mirror completely. The upside about this non-rigid surface is that it is a lot less prone to scratches than conventional mirrors.
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.