Having stormed the mobile charts with the Chocolate phone, it's no surprise that LG has done a Motorola and made another phone that looks mightily similar to its predecessor. Fortunately, it's not just a name change and you do get extra features, including a 2-megapixel camera, an expandable memory card slot and an FM radio.
The LG Chocolate Platinum KE800 is currently available at the Carphone Warehouse for free on a monthly contract, or for £170 on pay as you go.
The first thing worth mentioning is the packaging. Like a Japanese paint box, the Platinum's rectangular packaging looks like it was made to hold fine badger-hair brushes, not a mobile phone. Fortunately this phone is particularly attractive too, and doesn't seem out of place when you unclasp the magnetic clip on the front of the box and open it up.
When you take the phone out, aside from its minimalist design, you'll notice how pocket-friendly it is at 15mm thick. It's also relatively light, at 100g.
The front of the LG Chocolate Platinum is black and looks seamless when the screen is turned off, except for a silver strip on the front that separates the navigation pad from the screen.
The screen on the front measures 31mm wide by 41mm tall and displays 262,000 colours. It's set behind the black border of the casing, so when it's switched off it blends with the rest of the phone. Underneath the screen is a touchpad that only glows red when it's activated, and features five navigation keys, two soft keys, a call key and a cancel key.
The touchpad is heat- and touch-sensitive, so it only works when you touch it with your hand and won't activate when it's loose in your bag or pocket. After using the touchpad for a couple of weeks we found it responsive, but not as easy to use as a clickable button, because you can't feel whether you've pressed the key correctly.
Like the original Chocolate, the end-call key is on the right side rather than the front, which takes some getting used to. If you want to end a call you can slide the phone shut or use the end key, but if you press the cancel button on the bottom-right corner of the front, nothing happens. It's hard to see why LG hasn't changed this on this updated version.
Next to the end-call key is a dedicated camera and buttons that control the MP3 player. On the top-right side of the phone is the covered charging port that doubles up as the headphone port and a USB port. The included headset comes with a built-in remote that lets you control the MP3 player and answer calls. It also has a 3.5mm adaptor, so you can plug in your own headphones if you don't like the proprietary ones. On the left side of the phone are two volume buttons. The back of the phone is completely black and minimalist apart from another small LG logo.
Once you slide the phone out, you reveal the hidden keypad and a 2-megapixel camera with flash and portrait mirror. The slide is spring-mounted so it opens easily, and it feels smooth and solid. An advantage of having the phone behind the slide is that it protects the camera lens from any scratches.
The keys are large and easy to press but, as with all slider phones, there isn't much space to manoeuvre at the top of the keypad, due to the top section of the phone getting in the way.
Our main design niggle with the Chocolate Platinum is that the glossy casing can scratch very easily. There's also the issue of fingerprints and sweat easily accumulating on the surface of the phone, making it look dirty. A carrying pouch is provided in the box, but unless you want to take it in and out of the pouch each time you make a call, it's not the perfect solution.
We weren't totally convinced by the feature set on the original Chocolate, but the Platinum KE800 has some improvements.
There's now a 2-megapixel camera with auto-focus and an LED photo light, which is great for MMS messages and wallpaper photos, but flounders against the quality of the Sony Ericsson K800i's 3.2-megapixel camera. The camera lets you change the white balance, use a timer, add effects, choose size and resolution and it lets you turn the flash on and off.