LG Prada 3.0 smartphone review

Slim, stylish and minimalistic - LG and Prada seem to be ticking all the right boxes.
Photo of LG Prada 3.0 smartphone review
£430 SIM Free

LG and Prada have teamed up before to produce Prada branded handsets. There have been three outings including this current one, and they are few and far between. The first collaboration was in 2007, then again in 2009, and now the third joint handset has just swayed down the catwalk. The idea is that LG provides the technology, and Prada the style, but is the end result really the best of both worlds?

There are two obvious Prada-esque elements to the Prada 3.0. The first is apparent before you even turn the handset on. The physical design is sleek and rather appealing.

The Prada 3.0 is a large handset – it accommodates a 4.3in screen – but it is thin and rather stylish. It is just 8.5mm thick, making it one of the thinner smartphones of any size available at present.

The below-screen, touch sensitive shortcut buttons are backlit. As a system this has its pros and cons. When the handset is off it is a neat, uncluttered slab of black. But you’ll need to remember the button positions if you are to hit the one you want – Menu, Home, Back or Search – correctly first time.

Another paean to minimalism comes in the two small buttons on the top edge of the handset. They are identical, neither is marked, and one is the on/off switch, the other a camera shortcut. It might take you a while to remember which is which. Both buttons are a bit on the small side and rather flush to the chassis and so a bit tricky to hit.

We do like the sliding cover for the top mounted USB connector, and also the back plate, which has a leather-like look and feel that mimics Prada’s signature Saffiono design. The handset is let down, though, by the fact that the back plate is made from rather thin plastic and overall the Prada 3.0 somehow lacks the high quality sheen that LG and Prada were clearly striving for.

To be fair, this isn’t the only high-end smartphone that’s let down by a flimsy back cover – the Samsung Galaxy S II suffered from a similar lack of thought at the rear. One way to avoid this issue is to adopt a sealed unit design, like the Nokia Lumia 800, Panasonic Eluga or, of course, the iPhone.

LG Prada 3.0 2

We said there were two obviously Prada-esque things about this handset, and the second comes into play when you switch the phone on. It has a monochrome user interface.

This is remarkably refreshing after the colourful UIs that dominate today’s Android skins, and Prada and LG have collaborated to produce some stunning icons to go with the simple design. The whole thing looks clean and crisp as you look at the main home screen (of seven that are available).

Many of the widgets have had a monochromatic makeover too, so that they sit nicely with the theme. But the desaturated, clean lines concept starts to fall apart pretty quickly. LG and Prada can’t even control all the apps that are on the Prada 3.0 courtesy of Android 2.3, let alone any you might download. All the Google apps such as Gmail, Maps, Places and YouTube have their standard colourful icons, and anything you download will look as the original developer intended. The result is that any serious smartphone user will find themself diluting black and white with Technicolor very quickly.

The Prada 3.0′s specifications sit at the lower end of the high-end range. The 1GHz dual core processor might have been a good choice a few months ago, but quad core processors are on the way, and there are faster dual core choices available right now. Sony’s Xperia S, for example, packs a 1.5Ghz dual core processor.

That noted, we aren’t convinced of the need for ever-faster chips in smartphones, and the Prada 3.0 didn’t let us down in performance terms – quite the opposite, in fact. It responded well to whatever we asked of it.

You might actually be more irritated by the 8GB of built in storage. Yes, there’s microSD card support too, but if you want to be sure everything you need is in your phone, then the more storage that’s built in the better.

It is also a shame that HDMI is absent. With the main camera able to shoot 1080p video at 30 frames per second and even the front camera able to shoot 720p, HDMI would have been a nice extra.

The Internet of course looks great on the large screen, with its 4.3in of desktop real estate and 800 x 480 pixels deliver clear, crisp and sharp web pages. The HSDPA support can cope with downstream connections up to 21Mbps – and that’s fast for a smartphone. What you get in the real world will depend on what’s on offer where you happen to be, and the support of your network operator.

It’s nice to have DLNA on board, and really good that LG has not left it simply as a standalone app but integrated it into the music and video players. When in either player you can quickly access a link to LG’s SmartShare DLNA app so you can get to what you want if it is stored somewhere else such as your laptop. We found it very easy to use and efficient at streaming tool. A neat little music related touch is the presence of a sleep timer in the music player.

NFC is also present and correct, and this ought to give the Prada 3.0 a modicum of future-proofing as that particular technology starts to enjoy wider adoption.

With all that’s the going on in the LG Prada 3.0 good battery life is a crucial feature. The 1540mAh cell struggled to give us a full day’s life though. Make full use of the mobile web, music player, DLNA, social networking features and GPS and you could find that a charge towards the end of every afternoon is required.

Network: HSPA 900/1900/2100, GSM 850/900/1800/1900

Processor: TI OMAP4430 1.0GHz Dual Core

Memory: 1GB RAM, 512MB ROM, 8GB user memory

Memory expansion: 1 x microSD

Display: 4.3in, 800 x 480

Main camera: 8-megapixel

Front camera: 1-megapixel

Wi-Fi: yes

GPS: yes

FM radio: yes

Battery: 1,540mAh

Size: 127.5 x 69 x 8.5mm

Weight: 138g

OS: Android 2.3 Gingerbread

Company: LG

Website: http://www.lg.com/uk

Positives
  • Slim, stylish and sexy
Negative
  • Specification is average, monochrome theme isn't universal

Verdict
Overall, the LG Prada 3.0 is an impressive but not a wonderful handset. We love the black and white Android skin, but accept that it isn't universal. We like the slim build, but the thin plastic back plate is a let-down. The general specifications aren't bad, but they're not exactly cutting edge these days. Ultimately, the Prada 3.0 is more of a triumph of style than substance, but if you have a Prada handbag to match it with, that will undoubtedly be reason enough to buy one.