LG has started picking up a reputation for producing high-end handsets, but that doesn't mean it isn't making other types, too. The LG KC550 is a pay as you go camera phone with a whopping 5-megapixel camera, designed for camera phone fans on a budget. We took it out for a spin to see if it's worth the money. You can pick one up for around £170 from various stores including expansys and Play.com.
The LG KC550 is an attractive phone. It's not in a league with the iPhone 3G, but it's well balanced, featuring a solid casing with attractive silver details. On its front, you'll find a large, easy-to-view screen and underneath that, a set of well-sized navigation keys.
Slide the KC550 up and you'll unveil a flat keypad that we found comfortable for texting and didn't present any problems. Of course, the star of the show is the KC550's 5-megapixel camera, located at the back.
Protected by a solid metal sliding cover, the camera is activated when you slide this cover open. To take a picture, you hold the KC550 sideways, as you would a camera, and click a dedicated shutter button -- very straightforward.
The KC550's camera takes relatively high-quality shots in daylight and doesn't present much shutter lag. You can adjust several settings, including white balance and sensitivity up to ISO 800.
Picture quality in daylight is good, with snaps coming out clear and balanced in terms of colour and brightness. The same can't be said for low-light pictures that don't come out as well because there's only an LED photo light.
For a 5-megapixel camera phone, you may be surprised to find that there's no 3G or Wi-Fi. This means that uploading pics or downloading data is slow. That said, you can send pics relatively quickly to friends via Bluetooth at close range.
Not having 3G doesn't mean that you can't browse the Web, especially if you download the Java-based Web browser, Opera Mini. During testing we found that it rendered pages speedily and was better than using the pre-installed browser.
If downloading Java apps and browsing the Web isn't your favourite slice of pie, there's always the KC550's music player and FM radio. Our only issue is that to use either, you have to use the proprietary headphones and there's no adaptor to plug in a standard pair.
An unexpected feature on the KC550 is the motion sensor that adjusts pictures to landscape or portrait depending on how you're holding the handset. It also enables a set of motion-based games also found on the LG Secret, which are simple but fun.
Battery life lasted for around two days with moderate use. With no 3G or Wi-Fi to hog the battery, we didn't see any massive energy dips. If you want to save on battery life, don't leave Bluetooth enabled all the time.
The LG KC550 isn't going to set the camera phone world on fire, but it's relatively cheap. While we're annoyed that it doesn't have 3G or Wi-Fi and the camera lacks a xenon flash, we think it's a good option if you're watching the pennies.
If you want something with more oomph then we suggest going for Nokia N82 that packs in almost every feature out there. You could also opt for the slimmer LG Secret, which boasts HSDPA (3.5G) and a 5-megapixel camera.
Edited by Shannon Doubleday