LG PRADA II Review

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Introduction and Design
Inheritance is a strange thing. Sometimes one can even dream of it. For example, one day you may find out that you have an aunt, leaving you a few billion dollars and a world-famous hotel chain. However, there is also one other special type of more “weighty” heritages. If you father’s last will for you is to take on the family store for ski accessories, located in South Sahara, then you’re really screwed.

It’s not easy to be the second phone that bears the name of PRADA either. The first model has become a pillar of style, but things have changed significantly since it has hit the market two years ago. It is now hard to survive  on looks alone, you have to be multifunctional in order to meet the requirements of today’s users. That’s why the PRADA II comes equipped with features such as a multi-touch screen, a full QWERTY keyboard and a 5-megapixel camera. But will it manage to satisfy the higher standard for style?

The phone comes packaged  similarly to its predecessor – the box issmall, leather-coated and decorated only with a PRADA inscription. Inside, besides the phone, you will find a charger, data cable, User Manual, Software CD, headphones, leather case and a piece of cloth for cleaning the display. As a whole, the package looks good, but it lacks some classy accessories, such as the charging stand bundled with the Nokia 8800 Arte. The leather case is quality made and doesn’t impede you to take the phone out, but when it’s inside, you can hardly hear it ring.

Once outside the leather coat, the PRADA II inevitably causes reactions like “Geez, it’s thick!” or “Well, it looks pretty much the same as the previous one (but it’s thick).” Indeed, it really looks like its predecessor has been on a protein diet during the last two years. This has led to keeping the same overall appearance (black, with a silver line), but has also added 4.7 millimeters to the thickness and 4.5 oz to the weight. As a whole, it is fairly notable in a pocket, similarly to the HTC Touch Pro.




You can compare the LG PRADA II with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Here, we want to make a little break and address a message to LG. It is like this: “Gentlemen (and ladies), in 2007 you’ve released the PRADA with a 3-inch screen and a resolution of 240x400 pixels and this was really good for its time. It is now 2009, and the characteristics of PRADA II’s display are the same. Now, this isn’t nice.” Indeed, the manufacturer has tried to compensate it by adding the multi-touch technology (the use of which is questionable) and increased sensitivity. However, we aren’t pleased with the image quality. In comparison with 16 million color phones like the iPhone and the E71, what you see on PRADA II’s screen is not sharp enough.
   
In contrast to the first model, this one has 3G and respectively an additional camera for video conversations right above the display. The send and end keys, along with the back key have maintained their previous positions and although we rarely had to use them, we have to note that they are pretty handy.

We can say the same about the full QWERTY keyboard. The keys are nicely shaped and their size is very appropriate so that you can press them without any difficulties. Do not worry about the key arrangement that you see on our images; it is such because the unit that we’ve reviewed has been targeted for the German market and uses the QWERTZ standard. Since the keyboard is 4 rows it doesn’t have an additional row for the numbers, that’s why they are positioned as in an ordinary phone. Hopefully, the rest of the keys are arranged as in a normal computer keyboard and are easy to get used to. As a whole, this element of the handset is so good that we could excuse it for making the whole device bigger and weightier.


However, we have great remarks about the slider mechanism. It creaks and rattles and as a whole gives the impression of something unstable, which doesn’t suit a fashion-oriented phone that bears the PRADA brand at all.

The keys on the sides have also madean unpleasant impression, since they have a very weak tactile feedback and are hard to press. The only thing that you can find on the left is the volume rocker, and on the right is the lock/unlock key, the key for the shortcuts menu and the camera shutter. On the same side you will also find the microSD card slot, and the charger connector is on the top. Unfortunately, LG persists in not placing the standard microUSB port on its phones.


We have to note that the battery lid can be removed extremely easy. So easily that it eventually stays in the leather case as you’re taking the phone out. In addition, be prepared for a lot of wiping with the cloth, since the whole phone is one big fingerprint magnet.

As a whole, we aren’t impressed by PRADA II’s design. It totally lacks the “WOW” effect. It keeps the overall stylish appearance, but it’s too thick, and the build quality (especially of the slider) does not deserve to bear the name of the Italian fashion house.




LG PRADA II Video Review:



LG PRADA II 360 Degrees View:



Interface:

Have you noticed that things around us get more and more speeded up with each passing day? Trains are moving hundreds of miles per hour, computers are working with hyperspace frequencies and scientists are wondering how to set particles in motion with the speed of light in order to provoke the end of the world. The PRADA II interface is the opposite of that.  Let us say it straight out – it’s a bit slow.

You’ll find this out for yourselves on your first encounter with the home screen.  It is divided into three pages – one for widgets, another for user-defined shortcuts and a place where you’ll be able to enjoy your wallpaper. Just for the record, we’ll mention that the pages are marked exactly as in the iPhone. In order to get yourself from one screen to another you’ll have to slide your finger across the display, which is met with an animated transition.. We have some bad news for those of you that find the transitions quite annoying – they cannot be turned off.

When it comes to the menu screens, they don’t actually offer great functionality. There are only seven widgets: clock, world clock, calendar, gallery, radio, music player and a note. As in other LG models offering the same feature (like the Renoir), they allow for some additional functions. For example, through the clock widget you can set an alarm, or through the calendar you can add an appointment, but as a whole they lack variety and aren’t that useful. The only fresh news here is that if you shake the phone while in widget mode, widgets will auto align on the screen. The shortcuts are limited to nine, but they can lead to every position of the main menu and we’ve found them quite handy.  You can also access them by pressing the shortcut button on the right. The menu that opens when you press the button also has a tab, which lists all the running processes and you can stop them with a click.

No matter which page you are currently on, the icons in the lower end are always there and give you access to the dialing, phonebook, messaging and main menu. The last one can now be visualized in a different way from the classic division in groups, found in LG’s touchscreen phones. The new variant uses the same division, but shows everything gathered in one big screen, so that one can see a part of it and can smoothly go to another part by sliding a finger across the display in the desired direction. This didn’t seem like the handiest thing to us, but still, it brings some variety into the arrangement, of which we have grown a bit weary.

Opening the keyboard rotates the screen to landscape mode.  The home screen then shows 7 shortcuts, arranged in a circle. The interesting thing is that the only keys that are active are the numbers. When you press some of them, you go to the dialing screen. Unfortunately, you can’t search for contacts by typing different characters like you can on Blackberry devices. This is one of the functions that we often use in phones, equipped with a hardware QWERTY keyboard.

Still, we have to pat LG on the back for giving the volume rocker some additional functions. It activates the menu from which you can control the ringing, as well as the loudness of the sounds by pressing the keys or the touch screen.

As if to justify the name of the phone, the designers have included some photos of products, branded with the PRADA logo, which are being shown when the device is locked. We were a bit surprised when we figured out that there is no way to turn them off. And believe us, we really wanted to do it since some of the models that are presenting the top fashion accessories look like they have come from SAW or Resident Evil.

Phonebook:

Let’s start with adding the contacts. You can add up to 1000, and each one can contain a lot of information about the person (a few numbers, e-mail, picture, birthday and so on). The problem, however, is the process of adding a contact itself, since the fields that you see on the screen are too few and you have to do a lot of scrolling (like the Renoir). The situation is worst when you have slid open the hardware keyboard, because in this case there are only two fields on the screen.

At least searching is easy and can be done by both first and last name and by inputting numbers.



Organizer:

Do you remember those big pads in which people used to write down their tasks for the day, along with appointments, birthdays of friends and other important stuff (like granny’s apple pie recipe)? All these functions can be easily carried out by a modern phone, such as the PRADA II, thanks to the third tab of the main menu.

In the calendar you can add appointments, birthdays and anniversaries, of course, with an alarm reminder. To Do notes are mostly suitable for marking something that you need to do in the near future, as you give it a certain priority, and you don’t need to look at the calendar dates. And in case you’ve totally lost yourself in the calendar and do not know what day it would be in three days from now, you can use the Date Finder.

Other functions included in the third tab are the world clock, tools (calculator, unit converter, stopwatch), alarms, notes and the voice recorder. From here you can also access the internet browser, which we’ll discuss a bit later.




Messaging:

As it has become clear, the PRADA II offers a good organizer and a handy keyboard and even though it cannot replace the modern smartphones, it might as well be a decent solution for a businessman (or a lady maybe), concerned about style. The phone doesn’t exactly offer automatic e-mail configuration, but it is not manual either.  Unlike offerings from Samsung and Nokia, the LG automatically pulls information but then walks you through step by step to confirm.  Make sure to read the hints carefully and be sure to activate SMTP Authentication if you’re using Gmail, because otherwise you won’t be able to send e-mails. This whole process is really slower and harder than it needs to be.

We have said this already, but the hardware keyboard is handy. The on-screen version, however, has only one variation, which replicates the standard keys of a phone. Thanks to the good sensitivity of the display and the decent size of the keys, typing with it is not a problem. Unfortunately, other ways for text input are missing, like handwriting recognition.



Internet:

Do you remember that we have mentioned the PRADA II has a multi-touch screen? Even if you have not used the iPhone, you may have at least seen how easy it is to view internet pages by tapping (zooms the image so that it is best seen on the screen) and “pinching” (zooms in and out). Well, when it comes to LG products, things in this aspect have nothing in common. The full web browser renders pages slowly and does not support the automatic adjustment by tapping option. Zooming in by “stretching” the image with two fingers is present, but it has nothing to do with the one from the iPhone, in which you can see the image get larger in real time. Here, this is done after a certain delay, and the final result may be rather unexpected. We got used to examining some online advertisements rather closely (closer than we’ve wanted). If you finally get a chance to zoom in on what you really want, you will notice that it is fairly blurred and reading text is an extremely difficult task. Still, you have automatic screen orientation switching thanks to the accelerometer, which performs…you guessed it - slowly!


You may think that we are used to browsers, such as Safari and Opera Mobile 9.5? Well, actually surfing the internet with any new Sony Ericsson phone is more pleasant than with the PRADA II. With them, things are a lot easier and faster for sure.

On the other hand, the phone supports HSDPA 7.2 Mbit/s, assuring high-speed internet, as well as Wi-Fi. It is quad-band and thus usable in the whole world, but its 3G support is limited only to Europe and Asia. Stereo Bluetooth is also onboard.



Camera:

The PRADA II has a 5-megapixel camera with autofocus and a LED flash, but does not aim at competing with camera phones that utilize the same specifications. This element has rather been added in order to suit the other features of the phone. That’s why we didn’t have any serious expectations about it.

The interface is identical to the Renoir and is somewhat ugly. Navigating through the settings requires a lot of scrolling, and the small icons do not make the process easier. Still, it offers many options such as control over exposure, quality, ISO (up to 800), effects, white balance, macro mode and self-timer.  Keep in mind that the camera shutter is small and is a bit difficult to press, so it takes some time in order to get accustomed to using it without shaking the device too much and thus lowering the image quality. If you really can’t get used to it, use the red symbol in the lower right corner of the screen.



The images themselves are not particularly impressive. The outdoor ones are okay and even though the colors are a bit pale and the details are missing, the phone managed to meet our expectations. When taking pictures indoors and in low light conditions the situation is terrifying, as the noise gets in the way of details and figuring out what’s being shown on screen becomes really difficult.



Video capturing is much better with a maximum resolution of 720x480 pixels.  Image quality is satisfying, although the colors are again rather pale. There is a special “slow-motion” mode, but it can be used only when shooting in 320x240 pixels resolution. Sadly, the only format in which you can capture videos is 3GP.

LG PRADA II sample video at 720x480 pixels resolution.

Multimedia:

At last, we have found a place where using the multi-touch function of the display can be indeed put into practice – PRADA II’s gallery. That’s right, stretching the images with fingers zooms in, and pinching zooms out. The gallery itself is similar to the one of the (surprise!) Renoir, but the size of the thumbnails is so small that you can hardly tell what the picture is until you press it. Once opened, viewing gets a lot more pleasant.  You can move from picture to picture by simply sliding a finger across the screen. Moreover, the orientation can be easily switched thanks to the accelerometer.

The music player managed to read all album covers and thankfully displays them prominently enough. In addition, it offers an equalizer with five presets.  The sound is really loud and also a bit sharp. The headphones are very nice, considering both design and quality. We recommend that you do not turn the volume to the max, since by doing it you risk seriously injuring your ears. Turning it down also avoids the sharpness and the metallic echo.


Have you watched “The Devil wears Prada”? Well, in case you haven’t,you can utilize the PRADA II’s 3” display to catch up.  Just remember,you have to encode the movie in DivX or MPEG4 (H.264 and H.263) format.Unfortunately, XviD is not supported. Watching it is really worth it…but let’s stick with the device. The image quality is not thatimpressing, since the colors aren’t very smooth, but still, the 3-inchscreen can offer you a nice view and entertainment in your free time.

The phone also features an FM radio which is capable of storing up to 50 stations, but there is no way to download a full list of the available ones in your region (a feature that you can find in Nokia devices). Song recognition is also missing.

We will conclude this page with a sad piece of news for those that have been hoping to find games that take advantage of the multi-touch display, as in the iPhone. There aren’t any.



Performance:

Let us describe what it’s like to receive a call with the LG PRADA II. First, you hear a pleasant and clear ringing (that is, if you aren’t using the leather case, since you can hear almost nothing through it). Then, you waste about a second in wondering how it was possible for the manufacturer to make it that big and heavy and still claim that it is fashionable. However, you decide to take the call and suddenly hear a loud enough voice, but also too sharp and thus you do not make out who you are talking to. On the other end of the line the person hears you almost perfectly and explains to you why he is calling you, while you’re fighting with the unpleasant creaking of the slider and the keys in order to turn the volume down. Eventually, your nerves may begin to crack and just tell the person you’re speaking with “I have some other things to do now, just send me a message.” What a wonderful experience! The loudspeaker doesn’t help much, because it adds a lot of environment noises to the voice and it’s difficult to understand what is being said, unless you are in a very secluded place.

The first phone to bear the PRADA brand could not boast of a good battery and sadly, its successor does no better. According to the manufacturer, it is capable of up to 3 hours of talk time and 400 of standby time. Our impressions are that when using the camera, 10-15 minutes of surfing the internet and talking, along with frequently going through the menus, you will have to charge it every day.

Conclusion:

Would you be surprised if we tell you that the PRADA II will not be a nominee for best fashion phone for the season? When it comes to design, it does not offer anything that impressive, and its thickness and build quality could hardly make it a fashion accessory. If you are looking for such a device, examine the pictures closely enough and then judge whether it would suit your style.

As a multifunctional device, its performance is average – it’s not bad, but there are way better alternatives. Only the keyboard, the music player, the sound quality when listening to music and the DivX support are worthy of being rated as really good. But when we add the extremely high price, these positive sides are sure to get washed away. Suffice it to say we would not buy the PRADA II.

The software version of the tested unit is KF900AT_V10d



Pros

  • Keeps the design language of the original
  • Plays DivX videos
  • A good music player and high-quality sound
  • Usable QWERTY keyboard
  • Captures videos with high resolution and quality

Cons

  • The build quality does not meet its price
  • The multi-touch screen is almost unusable
  • The images that you can take with the camera are worthless
  • The browser is slow and hard to work with
  • Poor battery

PhoneArena Rating:

6.0

User Rating:

9.1
4 Reviews

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