Before we ponder LG's "Chocolate" moniker, it's the novel design of the KG800 that sets the it apart from anything we've seen before. It has an innovative touch-sensitive navigation keypad, which is inactive when the phone is closed and locked, but glows vibrantly red when you slide the screen up. Alternatively you can access these keys by unlocking the phone with two presses of the volume key when slid shut.
There are nine touch-sensitive buttons in total: two customisable shortcut keys below the screen, call and cancel keys, four-way navigation and a selection button. It's a shame the screen isn't touch-sensitive as well, but we still applaud LG for their fresh approach with the Chocolate's design.
So why Chocolate? We simply have no idea, really. LG tells us "Chocolate" is their pet name for the phone and that they thought it was about time a mobile phone came out with a name that's easy for people to remember. Before seeing the phone we thought it might be due to its colour, but there's no hint of brown on this phone. The high-gloss, black case with silver detail, while smooth, is prone to smudges and fingerprints. LG provides a small polishing wad in the case that you can attach to the upper right corner of the phone but we found it easier just to give the case a quick rub on our jeans or shirt every once in a while for a buff.
Most people we gave the Chocolate to seemed very impressed with its design and surprised to see the the quirky operation of the keypad. Others commented that it looked quite plasticky compared to what they thought it would look like. Each to their own when it comes to fashion phones, we guess.
Other characteristics of the phone include a black-and-grey checkered keypad, MP3 player and camera shortcuts on the side, and a USB port that doubles as the headset and power connection -- you can't listen to music while charging the phone. It's a rather petitie phone, too, measuring 95 x 48 x 15mm and weighing 83 grams.
It's certainly a case of style over substance with the LG Chocolate phone, although there are some average mid-range features onboard.
Multimedia highlights are a 1.3-megapixel camera, video recorder, MP3/AAC player and a reasonably bright 2-inch 256K-colour TFT display (176 x 220 pixels).
MP3 files can be set as ring tones and LG pre-installs a range of polyphonic tones. Travellers will benefit from the Chocolates tri-bad connectivity, but real globetrotters will benifit more from the Motorola RAZR V3i's quad-band.
The KG800 is limited by its 128MB of internal memory, with no expansion slot for external memory cards. Still, with Bluetooth onboard and LG bundling a USB cable in the box, it's easy to download your photos and video clips before running out of memory.
Looks aside, the glowing red navigation keys are a little awkward due to their sensitivity. Training yourself out of the habit of pushing clickable buttons feels a little bizarre at first, although LG includes a couple of sound schemes so that everytime you press a key, the Chocolate produces an audible typewriter or piano sound, a chime or a blip. You can switch this off but we like the variation in pitch different keys produce.
The touch keys also de-activate when the display's backlight times out, which can be set for 10, 20, 30 or 60 seconds. You then need to hit a numerical button or a side key to illuminate the screen and use the navigation again. Or you can just shut and re-open the slider.
LG states the Chocolate KG800 is good for 2 hours of talk time or 200 hours of standby. With Bluetooth switched on and average use of the phone for voice calls and SMS, we found the Chocolate's battery to last around two or three days. Turning the phone's power save function on and killing Bluetooth generally secured us a full three days but we struggled to push past four.
The KG800 Chocolate is the first handset in LG's premium Black Label Series of mobile phones. While no release dates have been specified for future models, LG hinted there might be a 3G Chocolate in the works, among others.
If your thumbs aren't too large, you don't mind fingerprints and can live without cutting-edge geeky features, we wouldn't hesitate recommending the Chocolate KG800.