The LG Prada Phone 3.0 is the third handset to emerge from LG's collaboration with Prada and sports designer looks with a custom made interface
The Prada Phone by LG 3.0, to give it its full and preposterously clunky name, certainly looks the part, but does it have enough tech on board to match up to its designer looks? The large 4.3-inch screen and bespoke UI are certainly compelling, but are they enough to take on the best smartphones around? We took it for a test drive to find out...
LG Prada Phone 3.0: Build
In theory, the Prada's fancy signature Saffiano pattern on the back of the handset should add a bit of extra grip due to the raised texture but we actually found that the phone slipped from our mitts on a number of occassions (don't worry, LG, it had a soft landing).
Although the overall look is that of a premium phone, we can't help but think that Prada's pattern looks better on a leather wallet rather than on the plastic back panel of a smartphone.
The back panel snaps on and off, and while it feels alarmingly cheap when separated from the bulk of the phone, once fitted in place, it feels much more sturdy. Controls are kept to a minimum, with the four Android controls under the screen only visible when the backlight is on (which, annoyingly, isn't very long).
With dimensions of 127.5 x 69 x 8.5mm, the LG Prada 3.0 is impressively svelte, and certainly compact enough to slip into a large pocket.
The top of the handset is home to a select few brushed silver controls including the power button and a dedicated camera button. These two controls look identical, so it'll take a little while to get used to which is which.
You'll also find a neat little switch that slides over to reveal the USB charging port - a much slicker system than the rubber covers found on many phones, that require the dexterity of a surgeon to open. In keeping with the minimalist theme, the only controls that you'll find on the sides are the volume up and down keys on the left-hand edge.
LG Prada Phone 3.0: Features
The handset runs on Android Gingerbread, while an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich is due in the not-too-distant future. The specially created UI, steers clear of the usual brightly coloured graphics that you'd find on a smartphone screen, instead opting for a more demure black, white and grey colour scheme.
This really does look slick, although the effect is somewhat ruined by the collection of colourful pre-installed Google apps, and any apps that you download from Android Market will also appear in their usual colourful state.
The notification panel appears when you touch and slide from the top of the screen - all you need to do to turn features on and off it tap the corresponding icons.
You'll get all the usual connectivity options including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0, along with NFC and LG's SmartShare DLNA which enables you to share content between DLNA-enabled devices.
In terms of multimedia, the LG Prada 3.0 offers support for a fair amount of file formats (MPEG4, H.264 and DivX), although for other codecs such as .avi files you'll need to search around for a suitable playback app.For music, the handsets supports MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, EC3 and DTS.
LG Prada Phone 3.0: Screen
The large 4.3-inch TFT LCD screen is certainly impressive and enough to match large screen phones such as the HTC Desire HD and the LG Optimus 3D. The display sports a decidedly average WVGA resolution of 800x480 along with NOVA high brightness technology, which means that the display is still readable even in bright daylight.
While the resolution is a little disappointing on paper, the screen copes remarkebly well with web pages and video, with punchy colours and sharp edges and relatively smooth motion on moving images.
LG Prada Phone 3.0: Performance
Packing a 1GHz dual-core processor, the LG Prada Phone 3.0 isn't the most powerful Android handset around, but we didn't have any problems with operation speed or crashing, so we've got no complaints there. You'll get a reasonably standard 8GB of user memory with the usual option to top up to 32GB, via micro SD.
The rear speaker is certainly loud enough to annoy people on the bus, while plugging a decent pair of headphones into the 3.5mm jack on the top edge of the handset also produces great results.
The fancy add-ons are all very well, but how does the LG Prada 3.0 actually perform as a phone? We didn't have any problems with making calls - the sound was perfectly clear and we didn't have any issues with calls cutting out or muffled voices, partly thanks to the presence of dual microphones, one of which has noise-cancelling capabilities.
LG Prada Phone 3.0: Camera
The handset sports a rear-facing 8MP camera, with a reasonably zippy autofocus. You can also alter the focal point using an onscreen target that you can move simply by tapping the screen. There are various manual settings to choose from for ISO, white balance and scene modes, or you can just let the phone do the hard work and set it to auto.
There's also a front-facing, fixed-focus camera, which is opened automatically when you tap the camera button on the top of the handset. To switch to the rear-facing snapper, you just tap the icon on the top-left of the screen.
Pictures aren't bad, but they're certainly not the best we've seen and they don't compare to the snaps you'd get from the Apple iPhone 4S or Samsung Galaxy S2. As with a lot of camera phones, shooting in daylight produces decent enough results, but shots taken in low light tend to be rather soft and lacking in detail.
We also found the same with the full HD (1920x1080) video capture. Taken at 30fps, video footage looks good when shot in good lighting conditions, but suffers in a similar way to still images in dwindling daylight.
LG Prada Phone 3.0: Battery
Packing a 1540 mAh cell, the battery on the LG Prada Phone 3.0 is nothing special and we found that it did deplete quite rapidly throughout the day, so if you're using the phone a lot you've probably want to take the charger out with you. Thankfully, the charger is nice and light and the battery charges up pretty quickly once plugged in.
LG Prada Phone 3.0: Verdict
We were initially concerned that the LG Prada Phone 3.0 may be a case of 'style over substance'. However, we're happy to report that it brings a lot more to the table than designer looks. The slick design is certainly a selling point, along with the attractive monochrome UI, but the handset is also a thoroughly decent Android phone in its own right.
We were particularly impressed by the large, bright screen, along with the svelte profile. We would've liked the camera to be a little more impressive, and at around £430, this isn't the cheapest phone around, but if you've got the cash and you're after a capable, good-looking Android handset then this is a good choice.
LG Prada Phone 3.0 availability: Available now
LG Prada Phone 3.0: £430 (SIM free), from £26 a month on contract
Check out our video of the LG Prada Phone 3.0...