When it launched the Chocolate phone last year, LG established itself as a serious fashion-phone manufacturer. Gone are the days when the company made ugly lumps of plastic -- now its mobile phones are synonymous with class and style.
LG has in fact become so stylish that Prada, a fashion house rumoured to have rejected many offers to make a co-branded phone in the past, has teamed up with it to create this new model.
The LG Prada is a very attractive, slim, candybar handset with a large colour touchscreen that looks a tad like Apple's iPhone. But, unlike many fashion phones on the market, it comes with a decent feature set. It was conceived by designers from both LG and Prada -- Miuccia Prada herself was involved in its design.
The LG Prada will be available at the end of March for free on a monthly contract, but be warned: it will be popular, so getting your hands on one might be difficult.
This is one of the most attractive handsets we've ever seen. The LG Prada looks and feels as though it belongs in a glass case on display in a trendy flat, rather than stuffed in a bag or pocket. You will definitely be noticed when you use it.
Even the box it comes in looks as though it was designed to house a luxury watch, not a mobile phone. There's a trendy hard-leather case inside emblazoned with a Prada logo, as well as a Prada-branded cleaning cloth and a hands-free headset.
For a touchscreen handset, the LG Prada isn't that big, measuring a relatively pocket-friendly 54mm wide by 99mm tall by 12mm deep -- it feels very light, too. It's wide enough to hold comfortably with one hand and it's fairly easy to tap the touchscreen with your thumb.
The first thing you'll notice when you turn on the LG Prada is a distinctive start-up sound that was, according to LG, created by Prada and sounds like something from one of the Saw horror movies -- you'll want to turn this off straight away.
Once it stops screeching at you, you'll notice that the user interface looks great, with cute icons, and you can customise it to suit your taste. We particularly like the theme that displays a wriggling fish on the start page.
The touchscreen is large, bright and more responsive than those found on touchscreen phones we've previously tested. There's no stylus provided but we didn't feel awkward using our fingers. It works very well when you just need to tap an icon or dial a number, but as with many touchscreen phones, there isn't any tactile feedback when you're texting. This means that you're not always sure if you've pressed the right key or if the screen has registered your tap, which gets frustrating.
The other problem that a touchscreen phone brings is that it can get scratched rather easily and unless you keep the LG Prada in its leather pouch it will become tarnished. It also collects a great deal of grease when you hold it against your ear to make a call, making it look dirty.
There's a video player that supports MPEG-4 and H.263 formats, an FM radio and a music player that supports MP3 and ACC files, among others. The music player feels vaguely like Apple's iTunes and lets you adjust the play mode to repeat and shuffle tracks. One flaw is that there's no built-in 3.5mm jack to let you plug in a pair of standard headphones.
The 2-megapixel camera has an LED photo light and shoots both still pictures and video. Using the large colour touchscreen as a viewfinder works well enough.
Unusually, there's a document viewer that supports Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Acrobat files. Documents are reformatted to fit the width of the screen, so there's no need to scroll sideways to read the text. It works, but the small screen means you won't be using it to read War and Peace on the train.
There's an expandable microSD slot for storing all your favourite music and videos, and you get a 256MB card with the phone. Plug the Prada into your computer via a USB cable and you can use it as a mass-storage device, which is useful for transferring files around. You can also connect it to other devices using Bluetooth.
A noteworthy but rather gimmicky feature is the world clock, which reminds us of Google Earth, in as much as it displays a globe you can then zoom in on. It looks great on the Prada's screen.
Finally, for such a large-screened handset, you might assume that the LG Prada would be great for browsing the Web, but it's hindered by two factors. The first is that the browser isn't very good -- text pops up in the wrong position and images can look squashed. The other issue is that there's no 3G or Wi-Fi connectivity, so it takes a while for pages to download.
Our battery lasted for two days before we needed to recharge it. The large screen drained a lot of power when the brightness was set to full, so once you've shown off your new purchase to your friends you'll want to turn this down.
The 2-megapixel camera is a little lacklustre and seems dated next to other phones that feature 3-megapixel cameras, such as the Nokia N73 or the Sony Ericsson K800i. Using the large touchscreen as a viewfinder is great, but the shots from our review model came out quite blurry.
Audio quality during calls was good and we didn't notice any muffling or distortions during calls. The sound quality on the music player was also good and sounded okay over the loud speaker, but it's not loud enough to replace a hi-fi system.
But for those that are mostly after a flash mobile to impress their friends, the Prada KE850 is ideal. It may not be perfect in every department, but its cutting-edge looks make up for the deficiencies.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield