LG – Chocolate BL40 review

wide screen handset ideal for movie viewing
Photo of LG – Chocolate BL40
£390 (SIM-free)

LG’s Chocolate BL40 is a tall, thin handset, its key claim to fame being its oddly shaped screen. There is a reason for the unusual 800 x 345-pixel display, which measures 4-inches across diagonal corners, and that reason is to deliver a 2.35:1 widescreen video playback ratio, giving you a better than usual viewing experience for video. Both DivX and Xvid formats are supported.

The experience is certainly impressive, thanks to both the extra viewing room and the fact that the screen is sharp and bright. The wide screen has another use too: sometimes there is split-screen viewing. For example, you can view messages and contacts at the same time.

There is a lot more to this handset than its screen, though. LG’s S-Class user interface has had a bit of an update, there is a 5-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, HSDPA and GPS here too. The physical design is sleek with a glossy black plastic back and some silver and red trimming around the edges.

The oddly-dimensioned screen makes for a peculiarly tall phone and if you’ve small hands you might not be able to reach all the screen for one-handed use. At 128 x 51 x 10.9mm it tended to want to peep out of the top of our pocket. The 3.5mm headset jack is on the top edge too, so that adds another few millimetres of pocket protrusion.

LG’s peculiar spinning cube is part of the user interface that has been updated. It actually shows the widgets you’ve put onto the handset’s four main screens now, instead of simply offering a random selection as it did before. More usefully, you can write onto the screen for shortcuts to some applications. Do an ‘M’ shape for messaging, for example.

It is nice to be able to pinch to zoom while Web browsing and you can also tap an area in the browser to zoom into it. But the handset had some problems rendering pages to the wide screen, and inevitably there is a fair bit of scrolling required because of the shallowness of the screen when you are in wide mode.

Entering text is a doddle if you flip the screen into wide format and use the QWERTY keyboard. But there’s not really enough width in tall mode, where a number-based keypad with T9 has to suffice, and not really enough height in wide mode so you can’t see much text when you are creating an email or SMS.

Music playback is of a reasonable quality and that 3.5mm jack means you can use your own headset if you desire. There is a music button on one side of the handset that takes you into the player. An FM radio is also present.

There’s a front camera for two-way video calling and the main camera shoots a reasonably good photo, although it is a little slow to save shots. Built-in memory is a generous 1.1GB and you can add microSD cards to augment this further.

There is a bit more screen to power than usual and LG has only managed to include a 1000mAh battery so life isn’t great. We expect you’ll need to charge the handset daily.

Company: LG

Contact: 0845 800 1020

There's no doubting that the wide screen is a real lure, but it has its shortcomings, largely due to its narrowness. You might want to give this phone a thorough trying out before you buy.