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LG Prada KE850 touchscreen phone

Ab fab - or drab?

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A trip to the KE850's application menu sees the various utilities available divided into four categories - Phone, Media, PIM and Setting - each selected by tapping a tab, this time on the right of the screen. As each is selected, the app icons slide into view from the left. Cute, very cute.

About the only thing you can't do is customise it - well, not beyond changing the UI theme to one of the three other pre-loaded skins, including a rather Mac OS X-ish blue one - so there's no changing the order of the icons, what category they appear under, or what apps are called up when you tap the tabs on the main screen.

LG Prada KE850 - sides

The KE850's apps deliver all the features you'd expect from a mid-range phone these days. The camera works well enough, with a neat live-zoom enabled if the image size is 640 x 480 or under. The pictures are smooth rather than crisp but not bad as phones go. I've seen better - and worse.

Flipping off the battery compartment cover reveals the 750mAh battery and, above it, the SIM slot. The battery life isn't stellar - I got about a day's use out of it. The SIM goes in without the battery having to be removed, but you do have to take out the power pack to populate the tiny Micro SD slot located right underneath the SIM bay.

A card is de rigueur - the KE850 contains just 8MB of memory, enough for one, maybe two MP3 songs or a small album of photos taken using the two-megapixel, autofocus-equipped camera.

LG Prada KE850 - model
I vant to be alone... but not with an iPhone

The Prada is a tri-band GSM/GPRS phone. The call quality's pretty good, too - the sound is as clear and as crisp as the KE850's UI. So is the MP3 playback. Bluetooth is ready for mono and stereo headset connections, and dial-up networking - though you'll need a suitably stylish laptop to go with it, vero, no?

Like Apple's black MacBook, for instance. But then surely if you have one of those you'll want an iPhone. Cute though the KE850's UI is, the iPhone's gesture-driven alternative looks set to be so much better, its feature list is longer, and its iPod-like styling will draw more awed glances too. But the LG handset has the edge on size - face on, it's about a centimetre smaller - and you can buy one now.

Verdict

LG and Prada's joint effort has the looks of a sleek digital music player and if some of the styling's a tad tacky, it hides an inner beauty: one of the slickest, smartest user interfaces around - at least until Apple's iPhone hits the High Street.

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LG Prada KE850 touchscreen phone

Like so much couture, the Prada phone looks ab fab from a distance but tacky up close. But its slick-looking software has the power to persuade.
Price: £350-400 SIM free, depending on airtime bundle RRP

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