LG New Chocolate Review

January 4th, 2010

Here’s the LG New Chocolate BL40. It’s an HSPA phone on TELUS. On paper the BL40 is decent; 5 megapixel camera,  4.0″ 800×354 touch screen with multi touch support, WiFi/BT, HTML browser, exchange support, etc. The front has a striking buttonless design and the overall phone is very long and thin unlike most phones – it’s form factor is almost chocolate-like.

Design wise there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack on top. On the left is a button which launches the music player. The right side has a camera shutter button along with volume buttons. There’s a camera with a flash on the back.

While the display causes everyone to take a second look at the new chocolate it has a big flaw. The bezel (the area next to the display) is quite narrow so it’s very difficult hold the BL40 without accidentally having part of your hand touch the display. This problem plagued me through my test process and I was never able to get used to it.

Another problem with the display is that it’s too long (or too tall). Apparently the display has the same aspect ratio as many movies but it’s not like the BL40 is powerhouse when it comes to watching video. In the end I found the display wastes a lot of pixels since most pictures and videos are much narrower so everything ends up being pillarboxed.

The home screen actually has 4 different displays. You can scroll between them by swiping left or right. You get a home screen which contains browser shortcuts, one which has program shortcuts, one with widgets and one with your favourite contacts. You also get 4 program shortcuts to the phone app, phone book, messaging app and the main menu which remain persistent across all 4 home screens. Also persistent across the 4 screens are a multitask button (easily the best thing about LG phones) and a worthless 3D button which allows you to move between the 4 home screens via a 3D cube which is slower than just swiping.

The main menu is LG’s S-Class interface. The S-Class interface looks really cool in pictures but is a headache if you have to use it. Basically, it breaks the main menu into 4 sections, communications, entertainment, utilities and settings. Each section gets a row which scrolls sideways. So if you have a communications-y program you want to access but don’t see you then you have to scroll the communications row sideways. If you rotate the phone into landscape mode then you get 4 rows with 8 icons each. There is no text for the icons when you do this.

As I mentioned earlier you can multitask with the BL40. While it’s a nice feature you can only keep around 3 to 6 apps open at once before you’re forced to close one if you want to open a new one. Despite that it’s still a nice feature.

In portrait mode you use a regular dial pad with T9 to enter test. I don’t have a problem with this since the display is too narrow for an on-screen QWERTY keyboard. In landscape mode there is a QWERTY keyboard. While not terrible I thought it was too short and long to use quickly.

The actual apps themselves aren’t horrible but the design of the BL40 makes them worse than they are.

The browser isn’t lacking in features – in fact it’s pretty competent. First off it can handle HTML webpages, there’s multitouch support so you can zoom in/out using 2 fingers. You get support for tabbed browsing and the phone can switch between landscape and portrait modes.

Anyways feature-wise I don’t have any complaints. The problem is the browser is slow and struggles with large webpages. It can be slow to respond when you’re scrolling. Another problem is that in portrait mode the BL40′s narrow design means text is very small while in landscape mode you have to scroll a lot.

You can tell LG knows people are going to have problems using the BL40 because each time you launch the browser it asks you if you really wanted to launch it. It also asks you if you want to use WiFi or the network – if WiFi was available why would I use the network?

One more problem is the power button. On most phones pressing the power button briefly turns the screen off. On the New Chocolate it just locks the screen so it doesn’t respond to touch, so the screen stays on. The big problem with this is that the screen stays on indefinitely when you do this. So I find myself constantly running out of juice and end up with a very warm phone. If you don’t press the power button the BL40′s screen will turn off eventually.

There is a Google link in the main menu but all it does contain shortcuts to different Google websites like Google Search, Blogger, Google Maps, Google Mail and YouTube. You can view YouTube videos – you go to youtube.com on the browser and then it will open up the videos in the video player.

Picture quality from the 5 megapixel auto focus camera with LED flash is slightly above average for a 5 megapixel camera phone. I did find it tends to blast subjects out (most camera phones do this) and it is a little cumbersome to use. It does have a ton of features including face detection, manual focus, different image size settings, geo-tagging, ISO settings, etc. One thing I hated about the camera is that it has the same problem as the browser were it won’t shut off if you press the power button.

Video records at 640×480 (talk about quality). Video quality is decent.

One area where I was quite surprised was how fast the BL40 is when you’ve connected it to your computer. I was able to copy/read files to a MicroSDHC at the same speed as my computer’s USB card reader. (around 10MB/s).

The image/video viewer is actually quite cool. In landscape mode it organizes items by day; you scroll up and down to change days and left/right to view each day’s photos/videos. Neat!

When viewing your videos the interface is actually pretty cool. Besides being able to move backwards/forward using a slider there are also thumbnails which you can use to move around inside the same video.

The music player has a pretty neat interface in both portrait and landscape mode. There is a 3.5mm headphone jack on top of the BL40.

Apparently the BL40 has Dolby sound. I figured this meant that the BL40 has an awesome built in speaker(s) but I found that the single speaker was very ordinary – it’s not very loud. Turns out it’s just a different sound DSP setting in the music player. There is a built in FM transmitter (as opposed to an FM tuner which the BL40 also has) so you can listen to stuff on the BL40 on your car stereo.

The Phone book works fine – while not included in the box (not mine anyways) you can download software to sync the BL40 with your PC. As far as text messaging goes the SMS client can thread conversations.

There is a built in email client that can handle POP, IMAP and even Exchange mail. I didn’t try the Exchange feature… I assume it’s for email only.

Other programs included on the BL40 are a calculator, unit converter, stopwatch, voice recorder, world clock, memopad, calendar, alarm clock and FM tuner.

RF performance is quite poor. Sound quality is average – it’s not terrible but it’s not great either. Maximum earpiece volume is also average.

At first I hated the New Chocolate. I hated it so much I couldn’t get myself to pick it up. Everytime I picked it up the battery would be dead because I thought I turned the screen off when in fact I didn’t, other times it wouldn’t pick up signal from my carrier.

The BL40 sat on my desk for sometime while I tried to forget it. Still, I gave it some thought every now and then when I finally got it. People will buy the New Chocolate because it’s a cool looking phone. Just like how people bought the original LG Chocolate. The original Chocolate was a horrible phone which was hard to use but it still sold. So that’s the thing, you carry your phone everywhere you go – so it’s important that you like how it looks. Just like how people wear clothes that are too small. It may not be comfortable but they do it anyways.

So if you ask me how I like the LG Chocolate my answer would be ‘It looks cool’.

Howard Chui 01.04.2010

Entry Filed under: LG,Telus Mobility

2 Comments Add your own

    Julianna  |  May 23rd, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    My husband convinced me to get the LG New Chocolate, we decided to get rid of our house phone and just use our cell phones as we didn’t use our house phone much but we need our cell phones so I signed up for a 3 year contract. My husband did some research and convinced me on the LG New Chocolate because he claims that if I am stuck with it for three years that I might as well have a phone with browser/ wifi capabilities on it (and it was one of the only phones with that cell phone company that did not require me to purchase a data plan on). RIght from the beginning I had problems going on the the cell phone companies website (even though the site is saved onto the phone), at times my downloaded ring tone disappears and I have to restart the phone, the phone allows you to save photos on your screen but a few times the photos have disappeared and I have had to go back to the phones camera album to reset the photo. I haven’t had a chance to use the phone much but my husband says he can hear me much better on the LG than he did my cell phone (I seem to have a bit of static on my end). My biggest regret is that I didn’t do my own research. I still have a couple of days to return the phone and am thinking about doing just that.

    Joe  |  September 4th, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    At the previous comment seeing as how you’ve had trouble with using the website, I highly doubt the photos or the ring tones suddenly disappeared and not due to your lack of understanding the phone’s interface and navigating your way through the ringtones/photobs. However giving the benefit of the doubt, glitches do happen to every phones so you can simply exchange the phone if that was the only problem because I don’t think a cell phone company purposely creates phones that loses things.

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