It had to happen eventually.
Ever since the iPhone infused the tactile with a new sense of cool, touch-screen phones have been all the rage. Apple’s sleek little device has left a veritable trail of imitators (a list that now includes behemoths Microsoft and Google), none of whom have been able to dethrone the reigning smartphone champ just yet.
But enter a new contender—one setting sights on the budget end of the touch spectrum, a battlefield currently occupied by the flashy and colourful Samsung Corby. LG’s “Cookie Pep” GD510 touch-screen phone is an (almost) full-fledged smartphone—and is priced similar to the entry-level Corby, at Rs7,799. Think of it as an iPhone Nano, or a BlackBerry Lite.
It has got its basics spot on. The phone looks very cool. Available in either black or metallic silver, it’s sleek, has a large screen, weighs next to nothing and is pocket-sized. Secondly, it’s infused with all the “essentials” (besides the touch screen, that is)—a fairly powerful camera, a video recorder, the capacity to store music, a voice recorder and the ability to access mail and Internet from an inbuilt browser. It even neatly ticks the “social media” requisites—with a Twitter and Facebook application inbuilt.
The touch screen itself, whose responsiveness makes or breaks touch-based phones, does not require incessant prodding before it bends to your will. The main menu, or “home screen”, is easy to navigate. Icons are grouped according to category in straight lines. A sideways flick enables you to see all the applications in a particular group, much the way you would use a slider. The only problem you might encounter, however, is when you try to scroll down while reading a message or an email. The interface restricts you to a little scroll bar that appears on the right of your screen—and the strip is so narrow that sometimes you may think you’re touching the scroll bar when you’re actually not. This may sound like a minor complaint—but it can actually be very irritating. This fidgetiness extends to playing games on the phone as well—the games assume that the touch screen is a lot more sensitive than it really is. So don’t expect to win a game. Ever.
The much-hyped “three-screen” feature on this phone is a little puzzling. In theory, there are three pages, so to speak, of the main menu—so apart from the aforementioned home screen, there is also a “speed dial” screen and a “live square” screen. The need for a separate screen for speed dialling is debatable and the live square screen is just bizarre. What it essentially does is pick up the names of the last few people you spoke to or messaged, ascribe them with an avatar (which may or may not match gender) and then have the avatars do avatary things such as wave or stand around with hearts floating around their heads. Touch one of the avatars and you have the option of messaging or calling them—think of them as personalized, animated short cuts.
The multimedia features are impressive. Picture quality on the camera is good, video recordings are fairly clear, and there are some nice tools that allow you to do some basic video and photo editing on the fly. They have also made it very easy to sync content from your computer to the phone and vice versa—which makes transferring music and files a fairly straightforward process. Full marks there. But the phone has one major flaw. While on charge, the phone cannot be switched on or used, thereby putting you out of commission for a good 2 hours. Repeated attempts to switch on the phone while charging proved futile, as did attempts to pull the phone off charge, switch it on and put it back on charge.
All in all, however, the Cookie is a good buy. Like the Rs15,000 BlackBerry Curve 8520 or Nokia N97 Mini, it manages to distil the usefulness of a higher-end device into a small and cheaper form. It’s a solid phone and sets a high benchmark for all the future low-budget touch-screen phones that are sure to follow.