A definite choice for the fashionistas out there, but are you paying for a name over performance?
What is it?
A fashion phone from Prada and LG, running on a distinctive black and white version of Android.
The interesting operating system skin; some fashion-worthy touches on the chassis; a nice screen and solid processor.
The LG Prada Phone’s specs don’t really justify the price; the back cover feels cheap and flimsy.
The bottom line
If you’re a fashionista who loves their brands, the LG Prada Phone 3.0 will slip nicely into your designer handbag.
We’ll be honest: before using this phone we didn’t consider ourselves Prada people. In fact, we were closer to Peacocks people. But with cut-price clothing chains dropping like flies, perhaps it’s time for a change. And if Prada clothes are as nice to wear as the LG Prada Phone is to use, then we’re in for a treat. There’s just one problem: with Prada prices as they are, our new wardrobe will probably consist of a single pair of designer socks. So is this fashion phone similarly wallet-busting?
Well, yes and no. It’s in the same price bracket as other sleek high-end smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S2 and the quad-core HTC One X. That said we expected it to feel a wee bit more premium than it did. Really, it’s a fairly standard black-slab design: mostly screen on the front, slim and rectangular, with a minimal amount of physical buttons. The Prada logo has been slapped onto both sides of the phone, but it’s subtle rather than ostentatious. The flimsy back cover is also embossed with Prada’s unique Saffiano pattern, which, although it might work on wallets and bags, just feels a bit plasticky here.
The physical buttons are rather lovely though, small studs of brushed chrome with a subtle underlighting effect. The little metal cover that slides back to reveal the micro-USB is also exactly the sort of luxury touch we’d expect to find on a phone like this, and the touch sensitive buttons at the base of the screen are small, chic and brightly lit. The Prada phone is model skinny too at a mere 8.5mm thick. But it’s the phone’s distinctive version of Android that really turned our head.
Turn on the phone and you’re immediately greeted with a distinctive black and white colour scheme. The icons are picked out in thick, almost comic-book-like white lines, creating a look quite unlike the Android skins created by HTC, Sony and other manufacturers. It’s a bold move that certainly gives the phone an exclusive ‘fashion’ feel, though we’d like to see an update to latest version of Android soon: currently the new LG Prada is running on Android 2.3. The stark simplicity of the icons can also make it a tad difficult to identify your apps at a glance.
The 4.3-inch screen is good but not exceptional: if you want a truly cutting edge display you’re better off taking a look at the Sony Xperia S or HTC One X. Text and icons are nice and crisp, however, as LG seem to have cranked the brightness up a notch or two for the Prada phone. There are some decent pre-installed apps included, such Richnote – usual for jotting down a quick thought or reminder and then sharing it with friends, family or other devices. The News App is simple but nicely done, pulling in stories from Yahoo News, and allowing you to select from a decent range of subject categories.
In fact, there’s a distinct lack of bloatware, which we appreciated. The only real example is the LG Smartworld app, which takes you through a registration process only to present you with a sub-Google Play selection of apps, ringtones and wallpapers. However, you get Smartworld-type software on almost all handsets these days, so it’s not a major niggle.
Web browsing is pretty fast on the standard browser, with full feature-rich desktop sites loading in a couple of seconds. Text zooming is quick and accurate too, so you’ll have no problems browsing the web while you’re on the go. The Prada phone is a decent media machine too, though it’s no match for big-screen beasts like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
Movies can be downloaded through the standard Google Video app, but the Music app retains the Prada’s stark two-tone colour scheme. Getting your tunes onto the phone is a simple drag-and-drop affair; it immediately pulled the tracks we transferred across into the music player. There’s a rather natty pair of Prada branded earbuds in the box too, just to complete the look.
The camera produced sharp, bright pictures and the flash is surprisingly powerful. Video is also handled well, though again it’s merely good rather than jaw-dropping – perhaps we’ve been spoilt by the 12MP HD delights of the Sony Xperia S. All the usual options for tinkering with your pics are on-board – white balance, vignetting, ISO, for example – so you’ll easily be able to touch them up or apply a few filters before you post or print them.
Calls on the Prada phone were clear at both ends, and we didn’t have any trouble with dropped calls or lacklustre reception. Messaging is handled well too, with the evergreen Gmail app taking care of emailing duties for those who have an account, and a fairly standard messaging app for your texts – albeit with the aforementioned Prada phone skin. In the end, it’s that Prada ‘look’ – both externally and software-wise – that is this phone’s main selling point. It’ll certainly appeal to fans of the brand. But as ever in fashion, you are, to some extent, paying for the name.