Taking the Viewty touchscreen concept to the next level, the LG Renoir is a serious 8-megapixel camera phone with ambitions of replacing your standalone digital snapper. We took it out for a spin to see if this phone lives up to its (rather silly) artistic name and whether or not it's LG's best touchscreen phone yet.
You'll be able to buy the LG Renoir at the end of October for free on a monthly contract.
The LG Renoir definitely progresses on from the design of the LG Viewty and has a smoother, more refined feel to it. Its touchscreen lies behind a plastic casing that doesn't have the same quality feel as the iPhone's glass housing, but it results in a lighter overall feel. As with any touchscreen phone, be prepared to deal with fingerprints and other marks.
The Renoir's touchscreen is more responsive than the Viewty's, but less so than the iPhone's. Combined with a finger-friendly interface, similar to the Viewty's, we found the Renoir's touchscreen straightforward to use and the physical shortcut key at the bottom makes it easy to open apps quickly.
Another way to access apps is via a widgets bar on the screen, which you can then drag apps out of and put them on your home screen, similar to the Samsung Omnia or T-Mobile G1. The widgets give you quick access to info such as the time via an analogue or digital clock, or a memo pad for quick notes, for example.
One of the features you're likely to use often is the Renoir's camera. Housed at the back of the phone behind a substantial lens cover, it juts out somewhat unceremoniously -- it's large but well-designed. To take a picture, you can hold the Renoir sideways and use the large shutter button to snap a quick pic.
Aside from the camera, LG is also proud of the Renoir's music capabilities, particularly since it teamed up with Dolby. While we can say that the Dolby Mobile software does add something extra to playback, the lack of a built-in 3.5mm headphone jack is really disappointing -- you can use an adaptor, but we'd much prefer a built-in jack.
Starting with the Renoir's most exciting feature, the 8-megapixel camera, it's definitely a step up from the days of the LG Chocolate's 1.3-megapixel camera. While it's fair to say that megapixels aren't everything, the Renoir's camera performed well for the most part, taking sharp pictures in daylight and providing a variety of fun modes.
There's a face-detection mode, smile detection that only takes a picture when your subject is grinning, and even blink detection, to avoid taking pictures when someone has their eyes shut -- all of which work well. A beauty mode claims to smooth out imperfections and it works to some extent, but it's no magic wand. You may prefer the harshness of reality anyway.