updated 07:35 pm EDT, Mon October 29, 2007
LG Shine (Telus) review
Although the Shine is, in various forms, one of LG's signature phones, it is a relatively recent arrival to North America, and its latest incarnation is a version for the Canadian carrier Telus. Electronista had an opportunity to test this new variant, and see whether the Shine lives up to its publicity.
Just on picking up the phone, it is impossible to avoid how stunning it looks. While it already shares a lot of design elements in common with the Motorola RAZR, such as extreme thinness and an antenna "lip" towards the bottom, LG has gone farther by building most of the body out of a brushed, highly reflective metal.
To enhance the effect, the both the internal and external displays are mirrored, such that they could be used to check a person's hair in a pinch. The keypad meanwhile uses stylized etching, and is illuminated by a bright white backlight. There is no doubt that the Shine is a fashion accessory first, and a phone second.
Which is not to say that the Shine is entirely form over function. Its main LCD is larger than most, and has comparatively high resolution and color depth that lends itself to tasks like texting or reading news websites. The menu system is attractive and well-organized; nowhere near iPhone level, but navigation is simpler in some ways than on a Windows Mobile smartphone. Particularly useful is the presence of a dedicated "Back" button, meaning that the shoulder buttons can be dedicated to other options.
Call quality and reception is generally excellent, with great clarity and volume through both the earpiece and the speakerphone. Like many companies LG has bundled earbuds, but these are only useful for music and video, and their bass and treble are subpar. Even should an owner decide to use their own headset, there is no choice but to connect them through an adapter cable that plugs into the USB port. This, at least, comes with a button for accepting calls.
On the topic of media, the two-megapixel camera lacks flash or autofocus, but is easy to use thanks to a handy button which can shift the phone from normal use to taking a shot in two presses. Recording video is a little more complex, but not terribly. The real issue is that the microSD slot is difficult to access, forcing users to do serious prying -- it was not even clear that there was one at first.
It should be said that despite the presence of EVDO broadband on the Shine, there is nothing especially worthwhile from Telus to justify it. The best features are mobile TV and XM Radio streams, but TV in particular can be jittery and susceptible to buffering, making it more of a plaything than a legitimate diversion. Worse are Telus' music and video stores, which have little selection and high prices. Users must pay $2.50 (CAD) if they want a song on their phone and PC, while a $3 video Electronista downloaded lasted less than three minutes and was tiny and jerky.
Ignoring broadband options returns the Shine back to "standard" territory, which is a problem when the phone costs $130 with a three-year contract. Buyers must thus ask themselves whether the looks and ease-of-use in some respects really outweigh the savings, which if nothing else could be spent on accessories or service plans.