LG Arena (KM900) mobile phone
LG's Arena smartphone boasts an all-new S-Class 3D interface, but can it challenge the iPhone?
- Build quality, compact design, excellent display, graphical user interface, responsive touch screen, 3.5mm headphone jack, great list of features
- Slightly sluggish in some areas, keystroke lag when messaging, 3D cube isn’t as intuitive or smooth as it could be, no App Store, TV-out cable not included
LG definitely deserves some credit for thinking outside the box. The LG Arena offers a wealth of features, but although the new user interface certainly looks fantastic, it sometimes feels sluggish and this affects the user experience.
Price$ 799.00 (AUD)
LG's flagship touch-screen mobile phone for 2009 is the Arena (KM900). It boasts HSDPA capabilities, extensive multimedia functions, Wi-Fi and built-in GPS, but it's the new 3D "S-Class" user interface that is the real talking point. According to LG, it is the result of more than two years of extensive consumer research.
The design of the LG Arena is strikingly similar to Apple's iPhone 3G. Like the iPhone, the front of the Arena is largely taken up by the touch screen, the phone has rounded chrome edges, and both the standard headphone jack and the camera on the rear are in similar positions. There are a few key differences though: the LG Arena has a removable rear cover and battery, a proprietary USB port and no silent switch.
The Arena's build quality feels excellent. It's smaller than the iPhone, so it can be cupped comfortably in your hand, and the brushed aluminium finish on the front and silver casing on the rear do give the sense of a very well built mobile phone. We like the standard headphone jack and the fact that the power button doubles as a screen lock, but we would have appreciated a standard USB port rather than a proprietary one.
The Arena smartphone runs LG's proprietary S-Class 3D user interface. The main component of the system is a 3D cube that provides four customisable home screens for access to shortcuts, widgets, contacts and multimedia. The shortcut menu is easily the most useful of these four screens, as it allows you to quickly access up to nine menu items.
The graphics of the S-Class interface are rich, colourful and engaging. Unfortunately, the other menus — widgets, contacts and multimedia — aren't as intuitive as the shortcut menu. The widgets aren’t customisable and, aside from the clock and calendar, aren't very appealing.
Both the contacts and multimedia menus are inspired by a Rolodex: contacts are displayed in a half-circle, rotating format (though you can also choose a more traditional row format), and music, images and videos are accessible from the multimedia menu.
We liked the fact that simply tapping a song from the list automatically plays it, and the album art is a nice touch. However, we found scrolling through items using this method a little sluggish and preferred to access contacts through the regular phonebook and multimedia through the gallery. We found it best to only have your top five or six contacts in the shortcut menu, minimising the need to scroll sluggishly through more. For the rest of your contacts, the phonebook offers one-touch access to all their details, including being able to text message and e-mail contacts from a single screen.
Aiding the S-Class interface is the LG Arena's capacitive touch screen. In addition to being very responsive, the display is crystal clear and possesses good viewing angles. It can be difficult to see in direct sunlight though.
The rest of the menus are fairly straightforward and LG does deserve credit for the interface, in particular the main menu. It has icons grouped into four categories and when the phone is tilted in a landscape position, the accelerometer tilts the menu and allows all 32 menu icons to be accessed on one screen (though they aren’t labelled in this mode).
Unfortunately, text messaging is frustrating. The touch screen seems responsive enough when typing messages, but there is a slight delay between pressing the keys and the letters appearing on the screen. Trying to type too quickly results in letters being missed.
We were most impressed by the multimedia abilities of the LG Arena. The phone can play DivX and Xvid video files, and there is a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. The Arena is also the first mobile phone to offer Dolby Mobile, a new sound-enhancing technology from Dolby Laboratories. Our videos and music sounded excellent, while the included headphones are of a surprisingly good quality. The Arena also offers a TV-out feature, though you’ll need to purchase the cable separately to enable this — a disappointing omission given the price of the handset.
The amount of storage on offer is impressive: 8GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot that theoretically supports cards of up to 32GB. The LG Arena — like most other smartphones — also trumps the iPhone in terms of features by including Wi-Fi, built-in GPS, an FM transmitter, FM radio, a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash and HSDPA 7.2Mbps connectivity.
For mobile Internet, the LG Arena’s browser takes a few cues from the iPhone but falls short in usability. It has multi-touch zoom capabilities to increase the size of text and links, and you can pinch the screen to zoom in just like you can with the iPhone. However, we found it didn’t always recognise our finger presses, especially when clicking links. Copy and paste is supported, but we also had trouble with the accuracy of the cursor — it is difficult to position it accurately when trying to copy a block of text.
Somewhat disappointing is the lack of an application store similar to the iPhone's App Store, Google's Android Market or BlackBerry's App World.
The LG Arena will be initially available from Vodafone for $0 upfront on a $69 or $79 plan over 24 months, with offers from Telstra and Optus to follow.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Huawei Mate 9
Google Daydream VR headset
Acer Swift 7
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Lexar® Portable SSD
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Surface Pro 4
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Dell XPS 13 laptop
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- 2 ZTE Axon 7 review: Is ZTE dumping old stock on Australia?
- 3 Oppo R9s smartphone full review
- 4 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 5 Huawei Nova Plus smartphone review
Latest News Articles
- Early iPhone 7 reviews: You'll miss the headphone jack, but the camera and battery life are tops
- Watch out: iOS 10 install is reportedly bricking some iPhones
- Google's Pixel Launcher leak hints at the demise of the Nexus brand
- It's official: iOS 10 launches with huge improvements to iMessage, Apple Music, Siri, and more
- Samsung is prepping a software update to cap Note7 charging to 60 percent
PCW Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- Time to ditch Foxtel and the iQ3: How to replace Foxtel packages with cheaper alternatives
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTDynamics AX Functional Consultant (Sales & Marketing Modules)QLD
- CCTechnical Consultant - ITSM/HP Service ManagerACT
- TPSpatial Science OfficerQLD
- TPLinux Desktop Support SpecialistWA
- TPInformation Management SpecialistVIC
- CCSenior Project Coordinator - Banking/Financial ServicesNSW
- CCDevops EngineerNSW
- FTTechnical SpecialistNSW
- FTFull Stack DeveloperQLD
- FTSalesforce Technical Business Analyst (Brisbane based)Other
- FTSenior Full Stack .Net Developer - Internet of ThingsNSW
- CCWicked Front-End DeveloperNSW
- FTFinancial ERP Customer SME / Solution Consultant / System AccountantNSW
- FTMicrosoft Dynamics AX Finance ConsultantWA
- CCMidrange ProvisioningNSW
- CCDesktop Engineer l WollongongNSW
- CCService Designer (CX)NSW
- CCSenior Mobile Application DeveloperNSW
- FTData AnalystQLD
- TPEnvironment Specialist(DevOps)QLD
- FTDynamics AX Functional ConsultantQLD
- TPDigital Project ManagerVIC
- CCWicked Front-End DeveloperVIC
- CCInfrastructure Test AnalystACT
- CCStorage System EngineerNSW