LG Secret Review

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Introduction and Design
This is an unlocked GSM phone which can operate in the
US on AT&T (without 3G) and T-Mobile (without 3G).
Introduction:

The Chocolate was the first global hit product of LG, being successful first in Asia and then, conquering Europe and America. The new product line was marketed under the “Black Label” logo, which later became a symbol of the interesting and elegant vision of its models. The following year, Shine became the second generation of the series, also distributed on the three continents...

In the beginning of 2008, LG gave us a hint for the existence of the third entry under the same logo without giving out details. Kept hidden for a few months, it was announced with the name Secret. The newcomer is touted not only for its appearance but also for the nature of the materials used and the quality of the make. In contrast to its predecessors, it is not only expected to look good but to have decent functionality. The Secret is intended for the consumer who cares mostly about the looks and still wouldn’t like to own a device, characterized by the features found in most mid-level phones.

Design:

According to us, the Secret’s image is a strange combination of all sorts of materials, which LG claims is one of its key features. Striving to have as many exotic solutions in its advertising campaign as possible, the company has created a phone, which is made of incompatible materials such as brushed metal, pleather and carbon fiber. While the brushed metal looks good almost everywhere (remember Shine), that is not so for the other two solutions. It’s not just that we don’t like pleather, but even genuine one wouldn’t fit the overall design of the device. We have the same opinion about the use of carbon fiber (reinforced plastic), which otherwise looks interesting. This material is used where the combination of strength and lightweight is of the essence. If we were talking about building a 300,000 lb plane, the benefit of using that material would be much more obvious, but we don’t see what is there to gain if using it in the battery lid of a phone. Well, if the entire device (or at least most of it) was made out of carbon fiber, it would’ve definitely been an intriguing piece. Now it looks like a patch screaming, “Look what we’ve used”.



You can compare the LG Secret KF750 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Since its design is a mix of unmatching materials, clearly, the phone is not as stylish as many other solutions by rivals, including LG’s own KF510. It’s a matter of taste of course and there may be many individuals or audiences, to which the phone will appeal, at the very least because it is different. Take a look at the many pictures we’ve added and decide for yourself.

We can’t act against our conscience by not applauding LG, for the fact that the glass covering the front panel is tempered. Same as in KF510, it will remain unscratched for a long time. Our test with a sharp knife showed that only an extremely big pressure on a very small surface (using the tip of the knife) leaves marks. However, we doubt that your phone will ever go through something like that. Unfortunately, although very strong, the carbon fiber lid will not stay in perfect condition for long.

We are disappointed by the display, because it is not good enough for a high-end phone. It could’ve been larger than 2.4” with an excellent image and not only a good one. However, outdoors you can hardly see anything on the screen. The only excuse LG has is that it is touch sensitive. Right, haven’t we mentioned that earlier? In contrast to the full touch models, the screen is pressed in certain cases only (more on that in the software part of the review) and basically, the phone is controlled via the buttons like a regular phone.

Well not exactly, since the navigational buttons are touch sensitive as well and you only have to touch them instead of press them. Because they are capacitive (like in Chocolate), they are activated by the touch of the skin and cannot be operated with other objects or when wearing gloves. Unfortunately, here same as in Chocolate, there is a delay between the moment you touch the key and it reacts. This is very annoying for us and makes operating the phone slower, giving us a sense of insecurity. The visualization of the directions (dots or circles according to what you select) and the animated circumferences when pressing any of them, do not fit the design, but is one of the things, which LG is proud of (“Neon Touch Navigation buttons”).

The central button, send, end and the “clear” keys are in a contrasting metal gray color and even though they do not clearly provide feedback when they have been pressed, they are much better than the capacitive ones. Luckily, the numeric keys are also physical and overall, operating them is trouble free. However, since they do not have a well-expressed relief, you are unable to feel where exactly a specific one is located.

The only remark we have for the side buttons is that they are too many (4) on a relatively small surface, which means that they are at a small distance between each other. Since they all have a very well expressed relief and are easily pressed, you’ll operate them trouble free once you get familiar with their nature. Among the already standard camera and volume control buttons, there are shortcuts for multitasking and screen sensitivity activation (i.e. links to those applications).



LG Secret 360 Degrees View:



Interface:

The Secret’s interface is not something, which will inspire you. Overall, it is easy to use and it is evident that we are dealing with a newer model than the Chocolate. However, the WOW effect is not present here at all. Moreover, since there are two color schemes with two visualizations each (grid and a vertical list for the white one; grid and a horizontal 3D list for the black one), there’s nothing you can do to change that. Other themes cannot be added, which is a pity, considering that other phones (Samsung Soul), let you even create such.


The submenus appear as a text list, which although not beautiful, is convenient, because you can clearly see the options. Personally, we’d prefer “jumping” to the selected field, by pressing the corresponding button on the numeric keypad (there is a number corresponding to button before each submenu) instead of move to the destination, by using the slow navigational keys. We are happy that the function to move to the next submenu, we know from other LG phones, is now visualized with a text, indicating, which menus are they.

LG tends to include multi-tasking features in its devices and naturally, we have such in this model as well. Here, the shortcut to switch between the separate applications is on the right and it opens a small menu in the bottom of the screen. You cannot terminate a program from it, but you’ll have to switch to the application and close it from there, which we think is absurd.

Overall, even if the phone is not loaded, you will experience extreme lag and frequent delays, which are rarely met in a non-smartphone. This is easily noticed when changing the display orientation (vertical- horizontal and vise versa). Often, the process is far from smooth but choppy.

The good news is that it is controlled by the accelerometer, which unfortunately, is not of the highest quality either. Sometimes, it will not react at all and you’ll have to return the phone in its previous state and try again.

Phonebook:

We don’t think anyone would be surprised with the options offered by the phonebook, which are very standard. The names are visualized in a vertical list, and for faster results, you can search by any word of a contact. From the options, you are able to choose the order in which the names appear (First Name/Family Name or Family Name/First Name) as well as whether the attached picture (if any) should appear when a contact is selected. Each entry can have up to 5 numbers, 2 emails, web and physical address, business info and notes. Naturally, a contact can be added to one of five groups and have own video/ringtone or a picture. As in previous models of the manufacturer, an avatar can be added. That’s a small character, which you create by using the set of clothes and scenes provided, similar to the game TheSims.


When numbers are entered at the homescreen, the phone will visualize the matches found in the phonebook. However, unlike the models of the competition, here you cannot search for matches in the names.

Organizer:

Apparently, the Korean company didn’t have enough items to feel the main menu with so they divided the PIM functionality in two groups, named Organizer and Tools. The calendar can be viewed by month or week, and when you select a specific day, you will see the events added (if any). Those can be three types (Appointment, Anniversary, Birthday) and have the typical options: duration, theme, location, alarm and repetition (with many options). In addition, you can add To-Do tasks, including only a short note and a level of priority (high, normal, low). There are regular notes as well and such protected by a security code. Date finder simply tells you what date it will be after a user specified number of days. This is not a typical function and will be rarely used.


You can add up to 100 tasks in the calendar, the To-Do’s and the notes each, which could be insufficient for a really busy businessman, but we think it’s going to be more than enough for the people who would buy Secret. However, everybody would like to be able to backup the calendar and the To-Do tasks straight to the memory card or send them to another device via Bluetooth.

The rest of the options are in the Tools menu. Here we have 5 alarms, a simple calculator, timer, unit converter and a world clock where you could easily add a few cities. There’s also a link to the Fast Menu, which is accessible from the homescreen by pressing “up”. It’s nice that you are able to set the ten links to lead to not only basic menus but to functions such as “Add contact”.



Messaging:

To facilitate this function, the phone comes with a few factory preset text and multimedia templates and you can edit them or add new ones of course. For text input, you can use either the T9 or the triple-tap method, and in contrast to most touch phones, the small touch display cannot visualize a virtual keyboard.



The phone is equipped with an IMAP/POP3 email client, but we are disappointed since the settings have to be manually configured (although step-by-step). In order to set even a popular mail like Yahoo! or Gmail, you’ll have to know the addresses of the outgoing/incoming mail servers and their specific requirements (if any). In 2008, we expect the manufacturer to have introduced a phone with preset settings (at least for the most popular mail servers), requiring from the user to enter only his login information.

Connectivity:

At least for the moment, Secret is a phone created for the European market. Considering what happened with the previous entries from the Black Label series if this one proves to be successful, we can expect it to become available in the U.S. The phone is tri-band GSM (900/1800/1900 MHz) with 3G at 2100 MHz and HSDPA 3.6 Mbps support. Locally, it can be connected to a PC via a USB cable or Bluetooth 2.0, also used for pairing with other wireless accessories.

When you are in the coverage area of a 3G network, you can easily visit and load heavy sites, relying on the fast HSDPA support.


Secret renders pages with no problem. Nevertheless, nowadays, this is not something impressive as in the past. In order for a browser to be considered a good one, it not only has to load pages as on a computer, but it has to provide a user-friendly navigation. Secret offers a few personalization options, but even using the one we selected as the most appropriate (a minimap appears when scrolling), the navigation is sluggish. You cannot select the precise zoom-in level and very often, the text will not fit on the screen, requiring you to constantly scroll left and right. In addition, it appears that the browser itself is pretty heavy since even when all other active processes have been terminated, it still doesn’t run smooth. We can say it’s good, but it is behind the competition. Used in a top model, it could have been better, for which LG gets all the blame.



Camera:

Even though Secret’s main idea is not to be a dedicated cameraphone, LG spared no resources in this direction or at least that’s what it looks like. It has a 5-megapixel camera with autofocus and able to record high-class videos. Since the lens (not Schneider-Kreuznah this time) are next to the battery lid, you can use the camera without sliding the phone open. Its software starts quickly (2 sec) after selecting it and the autofocus takes the same time. To save a 5-megapixel picture in the memory however, it takes about 4.5 seconds. The interface is landscape oriented and is neither beautiful nor very user friendly. Adjusting the settings is not very hard, but since everything is in black and white, it irritates the eye.

This would’ve been a small worry if only the images were high quality.

They are definitely better than the Viewty, which scored very low in our 5-megapixel camera comparison. Even with the colors not being fully saturated (bear in mind that the outdoor pictures are made in a relatively bad weather and are not much different from what was being photographed) and the detail level not perfect, the overall performance is good. As always, as the light level drops, the quality of the images follows and with Secret it is that bad that we wouldn’t bother using the camera except outdoors or in a very well illuminated room. This places the device behind the best cameraphones such as Samsung G600, Nokia N82/N95 and Sony Ericsson K850.


Same as Viewty, Secret is equipped with a camcorder offering decent set of options. As a start, it can record with VGA (640x480) resolution, and the LED flash can be turned on as an assisting light to illuminate closely positioned object. In addition, it has two modes for video speed besides the standard one, where the end result shows the objects/persons recorded in fast or slow motion. The QVGA resolution and the lack of sound (which will be more like noise anyways) is one of the drawbacks, but it is enough to create an interesting effect in some cases. It’s nice to have such an option, but we doubt that it will make you buy the phone.

The quality of the recorded VGA videos is not “scary” good, but is great for a phone. The good news is that when recording a nearby conversation, the sound will be good enough to understand it while playing it afterwards. However, if you want to record a close-up, the camera will not be able to focus.

LG Secret sample video: VGA
At three different speeds: Normal, Fast, Slow

In addition, you have the ability to edit the videos right on the phone. There’re not many options but the ones available are enough to create some interesting effects. You can cut the beginning and the end of a video, add a picture, text or another clip and edit the sound.

Unfortunately, even with simple operations ( like writing a text to add), the interface starts acting slow, which can lead to unwanted results (by pressing a given button a few times for example). And when it’s time to encode the new product (over the old one or as a new video), you’ll need to be patient (it took us about 5 minutes to encode a 45 second VGA video).

Once more like in Viewty, Secret is the second LG model supporting DivX files, which is a big advantage over all the other video formats. By using this compression, the quality of the image can be many times better compared to H.263 and is pleasure to watch even on a 2.4” screen. Unfortunately just like in Viewty, there is no XviD support and the DivX video limitations are not clearly stated with some of them running perfectly and others, couldn’t even start (officially, the only requirement mentioned is for the video to be under 640х480, but even a few smaller ones couldn’t be visualized). The fact that the phone plays MPEG4 videos, encoded with both H.263 and the newer and better H.264 codecs, doesn’t come as a surprise. The capability to watch high-quality videos is probably the biggest strength of the Secret, but we doubt it will become a portable player with its small 2.4” display.


We are somewhat disappointed that LG has equipped it with such extravagant features when talking about video and at the same time, it has neglected the music player. It has a few sorting options (by artist, album, genre, playlists), equalizers (cannot create your own), but its interface is once again old-fashioned. We would’ve liked to have a sorting option, visualizing little thumbnails leading to the separate albums and artists, and a larger album art cover in the now playing screen. Don’t get us wrong; it works fine, but it’s just not impressive.

The sound reproduction is not one of the Secret’s attractive features either. The phone speaker is used for that and neither the loudness, nor the quality is at a competitive level. We expected much more from a high-class model, touted for being multifunctional. Naturally, the sound quality improves once we use headphones (wire ones or Bluetooth).

The handsfree set is needed for the FM radio to be operational. You can either search for all stations available or input the frequency manually. In addition, a name can be entered for each one.


Touch Media:

As we mentioned in the beginning of the review, the display is touch sensitive, but only in a few applications. In order to activate it, you have to select its shortcut on the right side, which will take you to the menu with all the possible options, including:

  • An ugly version of the music player with limited functionality and inconvenient controls;
  • Picture album where the touchscreen has no particular functions (such as zooming in/out by executing a specific gesture);
  • A document viewer: here the touchscreen slightly eases the navigation;
  • FM Radio: absolutely pointless, since there are only a few options, which are otherwise activated by the navigational keys;
  • M-Toy: a set of 6 games, controlled via the accelerometer. Since we’ve seen the games in other models with such a sensor, we didn’t have fun with these ones at all, and we were even shocked when one of them (Baseball) didn’t run smooth.

Overall, this feature is not thought through and is pointless. That’s right: LG offers you to control using the small screen even though you can easily do that with the navigational buttons. Considering the popularity of the touch solutions, we doubt that you’ll attract the attention of the crowd, and even if you do, right after they figure out its functionality, people will think it is pointless. And we would agree.




Performance:

No matter how many functions a phone has, it has to be adequate when used and to offer good sound quality during a talk. First off, this is not so with Secret. Although not a smartphone the phone is sluggish (typical for the smart devices) and you’ll often have to wait when opening the menus. The delay is even longer if you open the multimedia menus (picture, video, audio). Combined with the slow reaction time of the touch buttons, operating the phone is not fast at all and this helps its grade take a big hit.

At least we were happy with the sound quality when talking, which although not excellent is satisfactory. The biggest remark we have to make concerns the incoming sound, which is weak. However, the voices are heard relatively clear even though muffled. On the other end of the line, the sound is very loud, good quality and with the voices clear, but sharp.

According to LG, the battery should provide almost 4 hours of talk-time, which is definitely not a record, but is OK for such a phone. When not heavily used, it lasted 3 days, but if you use it regularly, you’ll probably have to recharge it on the second day at the most.

Conclusion:

Since Secret performs average in all aspects and is very uncomfortable to use, because of the capacitive buttons and the slow software, it is far from being our favorite. As a phone, which is supposed to attract attention with its appearance, we give a low grade to the Korean designers. We hope that next time they will avoid combining materials that do not go together. In theory, all its key characteristics sound good, but the reality is different. Even the touch sensitive display is pointless with this software. The only thing Secret does well is recording and visualizing video files, but having in mind all the other drawbacks, we don’t think those features can save its reputation.



Pros

  • Scratchproof glass on the front
  • Capability of reproducing quality videos

Cons

  • Problematic navigational keys
  • Sluggish and old-fashioned software

PhoneArena Rating:

5.0

User Rating:

8.4
15 Reviews

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