LG is establishing itself as a maker of touchscreen handsets, and the Arena brings yet another tweak to that format. The tweak, to be honest, isn’t on its own enough to sell this phone. Hailed as a 3D user interface it boils down to something a lot less exciting.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves.
The Arena is an all-front-screen smartphone which supports touch. The shell is sizeable at 105.9mm tall, 55.3mm wide and 11.95mm thick, the weight reasonable at 105g.
The screen is large at 3-inches across diagonal corners, and importantly it delivers 480 x 800 pixels. There are few buttons on the front fascia; just Call and End buttons and one sitting between those. It is that middle button which calls up the 3D effect.
This boils down to a cube graphic which sits in the centre of the screen and which you can rotate with a finger so that it shows four of its six faces. The four faces show four different ‘home’ screens for the phone. These are a screen containing shortcuts to your nine most used applications, one offering access to multimedia in the shape of photos and music, one that lets you get to your contacts, and one which you can customise with widgets.
Tap any of these screens and they animate and grow to fill the whole screen, providing access to their services.
To be honest, the rotating cube is redundant because its four screens are easily accessed by finger-panning from any other screen, and the visuals on the cube are ‘ideal typical’ rather than actual representations. For example if you set up nine application shortcuts they aren’t the ones shown on the cube face.
That aside, there is other good stuff going on here. A 3.5mm headset jack is welcome and we like that it is on the top of the casing so that the pocket is not jarred when a headset is in place. The Dolby Mobile acoustics give a good lift to the quality of music playback, and maximum volume through the headphones is very loud. There is an FM transmitter, too, so you can send tunes out to an FM radio. This is a rarely seen, nice touch.
The Arena plays DivX and Xvid video and has a 5-megapixel stills camera. There is 8GB of built-in memory and an SDHC microSD card slot for adding more. The card slot is under the battery cover.
The phone is 3G with HSDPA up to 7.2Mbps if your operator and the location you are in support that. There is a front camera for two-way video calls. Web browsing was quite a pleasant experience with pinch-zooming among the features supported. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are both built in and there is a GPS antenna too.
Text entry is catered for by a full QWERTY keyboard in wide screen mode and a standard mobile phone layout in tall screen mode. An accelerometer handles automatic screen rotation in some applications. The phone supports TV-out but you’ll need to buy a cable to make use of it.
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