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The latest addition to the LG Black Label series of mobile phones, the Shine, is certainly a very stylish number that will appeal to the ladies, but is its beauty only skin deep?

Building on last year’s Chocolate phone, the Shine is a slider phone that lives up to its name with a full metal body, stainless steel all round and the piece de resistance: a 2.2-inch LCD screen which is actually reflective – so it doubles as a mirror. This is a feature which ladies wishing to touch up their lipstick when out and about will love.


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But unlike last year’s Chocolate phone, the Shine was designed to appeal to men as well as women, according to LG, which cites the stainless steel looks and ability to fit in a business shirt pocket as men-appealing factors.

But is this true – will men really like having a phone with a mirror on it? Surprisingly, while I was testing it out, my male friends admired the phone’s looks more than my female friends – though that could just be saying something about my friends!

Features are adequate enough considering the handset’s emphasis on style, with a Schneider-Kreuznach certified 2 megapixel camera and video, a MP3/AAC/WMA music player and 512MB memory (which isn’t expandable though). The Shine has 3G and, excitingly, high speed data download (HSDPA – High Speed Downlink Packet Access) capabilities with a dedicated video calling function. It is also Bluetooth enabled.

The camera takes decent enough piccies, it has a flash as well so you can take shots in the dark, trendy bars and restaurants you are likely to hang out in if you own this phone. If you want to listen to music, however, keep in mind that the LG has no connections except one proprietary one hidden on the side. The upside of this it keeps the phone looking neat and sleek. But the downside is that if you want to plug in headphones, you must first plug in a headphone adapter (supplied) and then your headphones. Since this is the same connection you would use to charge the phone, you obviously can’t listen to music via headphone and charge it at the same time (if you wanted to) though a way around this is to use wireless Bluetooth headphones.

 

In terms of functionality, the navigation scroll bar was found to be rather tricky to use. Instead of the scroll wheel or up down keys-method employed often by Samsung or Nokia, the Shine has a horizontal bar which you roll down rather than push to scroll through the phone’s menus. The roller method tended to be over and under sensitive at times, i.e. scrolling too far down and selecting the wrong thing or not scrolling at all, which was a bit annoying.

Another niggle was the fact that there is no “back” or “clear” key next to the navigation keys which sit on the top (unhidden) layer of the phone, just underneath the screen. The navigation keys allow you to access the phone’s functions even when the phone is not opened out, but the lack of a quick “back” or “clear” key available was noticed.

A major concern that we found with the phone, however, was that after a couple of weeks of use, when we went to dial a


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number, or select a number from the phonebook to call, the phone would attempt to connect, and then automatically disconnect. It would do this two or three times, and then on the third or fourth attempt would connect the call. We checked this wasn’t a network error by switching the SIM card to another phone – which worked fine. So we contacted LG, and sent the phone to the doctors there who refreshed the software, and now the phone is working just fine. An LG spokesperson said that no other phones had been returned with this problem, and that it was probably a one-off issue.

That said, those who put style first will most likely remain impressed with this slinkier-than-a-little-black-dress number. Despite the niggles, the phone features everything a fashionista or metrosexual would desire in an accessory to their fabulous lifestyle – good looks, digicam with flash for capturing fab parties, 3G, HSDPA and Internet access for looking up this week’s hottest restaurants, and that mirror for satisfying any vain tendencies!

The Shine is available through Optus, Vodafone and 3 Mobile.

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LG Shine (KU970) | $899 | | www.lge.com.au
For: Very sleek design; good features list
Against: Navigation scroll bar is tricky; only one connection
Verdict: Probably only the fashion conscious will be able to live with the functionality niggles of this phone

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