Many of you will remember this time last week, we were invited to the exclusive launch of the LG Arena KM900 blogger event (here and here!). It was a great chance to be able to see live for the first time how the latest LG S-Class user interface worked on the new LG Arena – a full touchscreen mobile phone which LG has pitched to be “the place to play”. As we begin to see the LG Arena arrive at highstreet retail shops, we take a look at some of the features of the Arena and how it compares to benchmark touchscreen mobiles like the iPhone. As always, this review is purely our thoughts and opinion on what it was like after testing the mobile unit we were given, if you’re an Arena user too, we’d love to hear what your views are about the new LG flagship.

Design

While you may have seen elsewhere on the internet an Arena with a dark metallic casing as opposed to the silver one we reviewed, there is virtually no difference with regards to their hardware. We were told that the titanium black version Arena will be available through T-Mobile exclusively. From just looking at our photo gallery you will instantly be able to see that the Arena looks and feels distinctly solid to hold and to use. As you can see, only the top surface surrounding the screen is metallic while the back cover which slides open easily to reveal its 3.7V lithium ion battery is made of plastic.

Along the sides of the LG Arena, there are virtually no slots or opening ports except for one on its top right which has a sliding door closing it tight, all this is consistent with LG’s intention to keep the Arena as elegant as possible. All data transfer, battery recharge is done through this one and only mini USB port. There is one shortcoming to this though, if you’re a user who often takes out the memory card (micro SD) for swapping or for transferring purposes, the compromise is that the micro SD slot is hidden behind the back cover. For those that won’t even be using a memory card (8GB of internal memory is alot for most users), this is only a very minor issue.

At the top is the on/off switch as well as 3.5mm headphone jack, while on its left are volume and camera controls. Generally speaking, we liked the size and feel of the LG Arena, held in the palm it was just right for the thumb to reach across and control its menus without needing to put any strain. The only downside, what we expected the Arena to be abit thinner (12mm). Unfortunately, the iPhone is still the benchmark for all touchscreen mobile phones these days and for a new phone like the LG Arena, we expected it to be at least thinner than the iPhone. The overall general appearance of the LG Arena was not bad at all, LG is hoping for the Arena to appeal to the 16 – 24 age group, while we agree there is no conflict of design to this age group, we think it may be difficult for ladies out there to find the Arena attractive, afterall its metalic design does give it a very masculine, businessmen like feel.

Features / Functionality

LG Arena KM900 Specifications

Basic Specification
Type
Card Bar
RF Band
HSDPA 7.2 GPRS, WEDGE
Dimension: L*W*D (mm)
105.9×55.3×11.95mm
Standby Time, Max (hrs)Standby Time, Max (hrs)
Up to 300 hr
Talk Time (hrs)
Up to 3.84 hr
- External LCD (Pixel)
3” WVGA (480X800) TFT/Touch
Vibration
Messaging
E Mail
SMS/MMS
/
Internet
Wi-Fi
Browser
Teleco Q7/Full Browser
Advanced Features
FM Radio
Camera
5 MP
Internal Memory
2GB NAND Flash/1GB SDRAM + 8GB
External Memory
MicroSD up to 32 GB (not included)
MP3
Bluetooth (version)
Touch Screen
Vibration Reactor
Touch Vibration Reactor
Dolby Mobile
3.5 Audio Jack

One of the major new features which have just arrived LG and the Arena as well as future phones like the GD900 is the cube user interface also known as S-Class. So has the S-Class UI lived up to the expectation that’s been built up til this point? We think, yes.

The KM900 was surprisingly responsive to touch, unlike the Renoir which came with a stylus, this time the Arena has been built and designed for touch control using our fingertips. Along with its clear and crisp WVGA screen, the Arena I must say is the perfect device to kick start the S-Class UI. We felt the S-Class UI was speedy, even though it packed a number of 3D graphical transitions and effects, it didn’t seem to have the odd sluggishness that would sometimes be apparent on the iPhone OS. The S-Class was fun to play around with, zoom, reel-like scrolling, row sliding, much better elastic list and menus and of course the cube.

Some may ask, what actually is the cube? The cube in simpliest terms is just like a quick launch toolbar. It is only a small part of the new S-Class user interface, and not “the interface” as some might think, but it is indeed very creative. With four faces, each face represents a menu such as multimedia, widgets, contacts and shortcuts. When you are on the screen with the cube, you can spin it left or right, when you come to the face or wall you like, you just need to tap it once to get there. For example, if I’d like to go to my multimedia, I’ll spin the cube until it gets to the blue wall, then tap once. And before you start wondering, yes, it is possible to not use the cube to navigate around the different features of the Arena if you’re not a fan of the cube. All you need to do is slide the walls as you would do on the iPhone, on the Arena, there are only four walls so it doesn’t take up much time to get to the feature you want.

What is good about LG’s UIs is that its very well organised, because there are only four walls, all the widgets must be only on one wall while shortcuts all on another, there isn’t nine different walls of mixed widgets in which I haven’t got a clue about what is where abouts. Of course it is argueable that this is too a downside, as this gives less user freedom to where they want things to be put. Having said this, on the Arena, all the apps and features you want to be displayed on the shortcuts and widgets wall are customisable.

Having spoken about the new cube feature on the latest S-Class UI and also some of the much improved effects, we thought it was also useful to point out that the contacts menu features contact’s thumbnail picture when browsing, this by the way has been a feature that iPhone users can only get by using jailbroken apps from Cydia. The Arena’s contacts phonebook was simple and fast to use, afterall what’s a good mobile without an easy to use contacts?

With touchscreen smartphones now getting more multifunctional, it seems basic applications such as internet browser, RSS reader, email, Google Search, e-Blogger, Gmail and Google Maps are standard these days, and with HSDPA 7.2Mbps / WiFi, it was clear that the Arena could easily handle these applications without a glitch. However, as some users may have seen on other LG mobiles, LG’s built in browser isn’t anything like the Safari which you would find on the iPhone and iPod Touch. The Arena’s browser appears much more basic and with the Arena’s slim screen, it proved to be difficult to use and concentrate on for long periods of time. Despite this for those who just need the browser now and then we would not hesitate recommending the Arena.

Taking pictures and creating your own videos is just as fun as it was with the Renoir. While it is true that the Arena only sports a  five megapixel camera as opposed to eight on the Renoir, no other camera features and functionalities have been compromised. You can capture photos with resolutions as high as 2,664 x 2,016, face tracking still proves to be a popular function among LG phones, indeed this works 99% of the time through our testing. The Arena’s camera also features stabiliser, ISO800 also allows you to make the most out of its camera even in low light, dim environments. What’s also a great feature to have is backlight compensation, we will all have done it at some point, take pictures at incredibly bright light or objects, with this function, it will automatically adjust the camera’s exposure. For those of you who enjoy abit of homemade video recording every now and then, the Arena can help you achieve more than just that. Using the D1 camcorder (720 x 480 res, 30 FPS), you can get videos made and shown on TV as if it was DVD quality, without any noticeable distortions. Fast moving objects can also be recorded using 120FPS video recording. A useful feature we found with the video recording was that it allowed you to specific if you wanted a video duration to be just perfect for sending through MMS. We thought the only let down of the whole camera / video recording function of the Arena was the auto focus / shoot button which felt stiff to press on once auto focus had been achieved, this wasn’t the case with its previous phone, the Renoir.

Other features we haven’t touched upon yet includes multimedia functions such as watching videos. After the Renoir, the Arena is the second device in which LG and Dolby have worked together to stress the importance of providing high quality videos and movies through Dolby Mobile.

Equipped with Dolby Mobile, DivX video playback compatibility, and as we mentioned before 8GB of internal memory there is no doubt that the Arena is certainly capable of providing quality surround sound experience for movies and music on the go. With regards to music play, the Arena supports MP3, AAC, AAC+, RA, and WMA. Music player functions include, equalizer, search, playlist and songs can be sorted according to favourites, artists, albums and genres. The Arena’s music player works in both portrait and landscape mode, of course, it may not be as glamorous as the iPhone’s iPod music player but we didn’t feel there were any particular functions lacking compared to the iPod. LG claims that if you put the Arena into flight mode, it can give up to 30 hours of music play which is great if you’re a frequent traveller and enjoy your own music rather than in-flight entertainment.

To conclude, here’s a summary of what we thought were the good and bad of the latest LG Arena KM900.

Pros

  • Elegant slick design
  • Clear, catchy high resolution WVGA
  • New S-Class UI is incredibly easy to learn and use
  • Range of connectivity including A-GPS as well
  • Dolby Mobile equipped – helps the Arena stand out for both watching movies and music play
  • A truly multimedia phone
  • Multi-functional camera that suits both basic and advanced users, even sports movie editing

Cons

  • LG is not looking to make S-Class an open source platform, therefore unlikely to see more apps in place the future
  • Not equipped with the best browser for those who enjoy surfing the internet on the go

Any questions or features you want to know more about, leave us a comment below. Meanwhile, feel free to flick through our LG Arena KM900 gallery below or click here to check out the entire gallery directly.

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60 Responses to Review: LG Arena KM900 S-Class UI touchscreen mobile phone

  1. 1

    [...] Credit:Review: LG Arena KM900 S-Class UI touchscreen mobile phone [...]

  2. 2

    Really nice post! Thank you for all your useful information, this a very-well pieced-together segment. And the LG Arena really is a cool phone.

    Warm Regards,

    Maria

    The Book Reader

  3. 3
    JT says:

    how is the battery life for LG arena?thanks

    • 3.1

      Sorry for the late reply. Stand by time as claimed was up to 300 hours while talk time was about 4 hours. We certainly did not need to recharge even once during the four to five days in which we were playing around with its features, cameras, etc. The battery seemed to be able to handle the Arena’s battery demand quite well, unlike the iPhone, hope this helps.

      • 3.1.1
        Lauren says:

        I got my lg arena on sat it is now tues n i have had to charge it twice and it needs charging again now. wonder if my phone has a fault? anyone else had any problems such as this?? i googled its battery life to see how long its battery life is and mine is no way near 300 hours!! apart from that its the best phone iv ever had… any replies bout battery life welcome…

        • 3.1.1.1
          debi says:

          the battery life on mine is rubbish too, in fact i’ve only had it 3 weeks and i hate the thing. it’s going back to the dealer tomorrow as there is a fault with it and it just keeps switching itself off….argghhh

        • 3.1.1.2
          michael says:

          yeah, i got my phone on saturday and charged it fully (like asked) and it was charging most of the day… and it ran out halfway through sunday! so its charging again now!

          It’s certainly not 300 hours or anywhere close, i’ll see what happens tomorrow, or i might get a new battery!

          I LOVE THE PHONE THOUGH!!

    • 3.2
      scottiepunk says:

      I got mine last Friday, charged it as required and have to charge it at least twice a day or the battery dies early evening! Apart from the battery life though I’m getting to quite like the phone.

      Can anything be done about the battery life? Have I got a dodgy battery?

    • 3.3
      Lee says:

      I have one. Battery seems fine, i use it constantly for work and at night play music on it. If you charge the battery and continue to charge it for example when you are asleep it will deplete the batteries life. It will tell you when it is finished charging take it off when it tells you!

      • 3.3.1
        Adi says:

        I am also getting the same issue with battery. It does not last for more than 24 hours forget about 300 hours. is there any that can be done with the battery.

        • 3.3.1.1
          john says:

          i got my lg arena last week, its a very nice phone, but it keeps freezing, switching off and the battery keeps going up and down, im going to send it back, its unlocked, apperently on orange and unlocked phones this problem occurs, im going to get an o2 one.

  4. 4
    HWhall says:

    As this phone has a good review for multimedia, is there separate speakers i could buy after i buy the phone or accessories to do with the music aspect of the phone?

    • 4.1

      Thanks for your comment. There are portable speakers available, the one that LG recommends is the LG MSP 300. But these are by no means fancy docks specific for the LG Arena, these speakers work simply by plugging in the device via its 3.5 mm audio jack.

    • 4.2
      Lee says:

      You get headphones with the phone i think they are awesome best headphones ive ever used! i use them in my ipod and that aswell.

  5. 5

    [...] doing the LG Arena KM900 review, we received a few requests for asking us what the camera’s quality is like and whether we [...]

  6. 6
    Katie says:

    What is the battery life like for the LG Arena please?

    • 6.1

      Thanks for your comment Katie. As we just replied to JT above. Stand by time of the Arena as claimed by LG was up to 300 hours while talk time was about 4 hours. We certainly did not need to recharge even once during the four to five days in which we were playing around with its main functions and features, cameras, etc.

      The battery did not get drained rapidly and seemed to be able to handle the Arena’s battery demand quite well, this is quite different to the iPhone for example, hope this helps.

      • 6.1.1
        Stephanie says:

        I got my Arena less than a month (brand new), and battery life is very very short. I recharge it every other day, if i use it only for a few calls. Otherwise, it needs to be charged every day.

    • 6.2
      abc says:

      Charged my phone yesterday and left it sitting on my desk overnight; in 14 hours the phone battery was completely empty.

  7. 7
    Ciaran says:

    Is there anywhere i can download a mobile version of windows live messenger for the ARENA?

    Or other app’s?

    Thanks

  8. 8
    Tim says:

    I know this phone has been compared to the iphone. However, are you able to download apps like the iphone?

    Thanks,

    Tim

    • 8.1

      Hi Tim, thanks for your comment. Unfortunately not, this was confirmed when this question was directed at a LG official at a recent press event we attended. Because they think the S-Class UI will become an open source platform anytime in the near future, downloading apps won’t be possible.

      • 8.1.1
        Asad says:

        Hi there,

        So just to clarify, did you mean that S-Class UI WILL NOT become open source??
        Its a shame that this phone won’t allow the freedom to install third party apps if this is true. As this new OS just won an award!

        I have just got a samsung i8910 HD and it uses a symbian s60 v5 OS which is great for installing apps, but if this LG had this capability i would definitely have opted for this instead. :-(

        • 8.1.1.1

          Asad, that’s correct. It is ashame, it isn’t a bad UI at all. On the other hand, LG will also be launching new Android phones in the future, so if you like LG, that is the good news. If you like their S-Class UI, unfortunately we probably won’t see it become open source.

    • 8.2
      alchie says:

      opera mini downloads and installs ok.runs alot better than pre installed browser.

  9. 9

    [...] GadgetLite were also impressed, their summary featured Seven Pros and only two cons: Pros * Elegant slick design * Clear, catchy high resolution WVGA * New S-Class UI is incredibly easy to learn and use * Range of connectivity including A-GPS as well * Dolby Mobile equipped – helps the Arena stand out for both watching movies and music play * A truly multimedia phone * Multi-functional camera that suits both basic and advanced users, even sports movie editing [...]

  10. 10
    Mabkab says:

    Hi, I enjoyed reading your very informative article which covers just about everything today’s mobile phone users want to know. One feature though that nearly always fails to get a mention is the calendar. I want to move away from a windows mobile phone but have not yet found a decent non WM diary. Doesn’t anyone need help organising their busy lives these days? Is it all about music, email and web browsing. Any info on the calendar events, reminders/alarms/repeats/note facility etc would be most appreciated. If the LG Arena uses ActiveSync 4.5 does it mean a calendar can be downloaded?

    • 10.1

      Mabkab, thanks for your comment. We appreciate your feedback, I believe we do sometimes get too concentrated on multimedia features of gadgets like latest mobiles, we will definitely take it into consideration your feedback for our future reviews.

      In reply to your question, I can tell you that included with the KM900 is a software for your PC or Mac OS X called LG PC Suite. This can sync your computer’s phonebook / contacts, messages, schedules, to dos, memos and music to the Arena.

      Alarm functions include two types of alarms: quick alarms which are limited to a max of 60 minutes, and “normal” alarms and yes repeat function is available.

      Other functions which we haven’t mentioned include radio, memo, stopwatch, voice recorder, world clock and calculator. Hope this helps, if you have any further questions, we’d be happy to help!

  11. 11
    Asim says:

    Hi,

    Thankyou for that review. Just 1 question, can you tell me if the lg km900 arena edits and creates documents or does it have just a document viewer, as I like to work on the go so document editing, creating is important to me. Thankyou for your time.

    Asim.

    • 11.1

      Thanks for your message Asim. Just had another look to make sure. The LG Arena does not create or edit but only has a document viewer for popular documents such as pdf and doc. Hope this helps!

  12. 12
    Damir says:

    Thank you for your review… You were mentioning that photos made with Arena’s 5MP camera turn-out to be very good… What about their quality when taken in very low-light conditions with its LED flash? Are they any good?

    Thanks.

  13. 13
    the_New_Mr says:

    Hi guys! thanks very much for the informative and very well written review. Just a few questions.

    I was watching the video review on cnet.co.uk and they said there that the lag in text entry meant that fast texters (Such as myself) would find it annoying and would end up missing letters as opposed to use on the iphone. They had a side-by-side comparison. I have a feeling that this might have had something to do with it being a pre-release version though but was wondering if you could confirm.

    Second, how does it handle delivery reports? as if they were messages or as seperate reports?

    Finally, what about multi-tasking? how may simultaneous java apps can you run at the same time?

    Thanks in advance :)

  14. 14
    Giles Slater says:

    Hi,
    I have had my KM900 for 2 weeks and can not transfer music from pc to phone! I have tried both the software included and windows media.

    A list has been transfered but no music – the track length reading is 00. It occured to me that there might be a box I need to tick on the phone.

    Anyway I would really appreciate your help as the MP3 player & Dolby sound was why I bought the phone.

    Thansk in advance,
    Giles.

    • 14.1
      Martin Parker says:

      Have you tried checking the music sync option under USB options? It’s found in Connectivity. This might do the trick.

  15. 15
    Marc McCafery says:

    Hi,
    I have had the LG KM900 for 1 week,great phone but I can not transfer anything from my p.c to phone! I have tried both the software included,could someone help me please.
    Marc

  16. 16

    [...] back in April, there were a fair few fans of the LG Arena (KM900) on our blog roll – Gaj-It, GadgetLite and ShinyShiny were all impressed, but some of our fellow bloggers weren’t quite ready to [...]

  17. 17
    Desmond says:

    Tried to sync my Ms Outlook calendar into my Arena, the system shows successful, but when I look back into my Arena, i couldn’t find any information in my phone.

    Secondly, where to download Opera mini? Can i install MSN into Arena?

    Thanks!!

  18. 18
    shelly cole says:

    Can someone please help? Had the Arena KM900 for about 2 weeks and I still can’t download my music from my mac! I have the USB connectivity set correctly but my Mac does not seem to find the phone when I open Itunes. i can Isync the calender etc so I know that it can work.
    Can someone please help me??

  19. 19

    LG arena is an excellent phone. Screen is wonderful, very responsive to touch. The only problem is with the divx, since often it doesn’t work.

  20. 20
    David says:

    Very nice review. Arena is an all-in-one phone… where is the speaker that music player use? does it have another one or it use call speaker?

    thanks :)

    • 20.1

      Hi David, sorry for the late reply to your comment. The Arena doesn’t have a separate speaker for multimedia purposes, instead it just uses the phone’s speaker, which is one of the let downs in its features. Hope that helps!

  21. 21
    ashleigh says:

    Have jus bought my KM900 and cannot transfer music or anything from PC to phone have tried everyting possible and not workin .. please help!!

    • 21.1

      Hi, this appears to be a common problem ashleigh. Have you tried putting your music on a memory card?

    • 21.2
      Barbara Gomes says:

      Connect to usb on mass storage mode, create a MP3 folder and drop all your music there. It's what I did, worked just fine. I couldn't make it work with the software provided (but then again, I didn't try that hard).

  22. 22
    john says:

    How come when there is a question about the divx player no one has any answers. I cannot get it to work even when i installed it how lg said from there support line. Does it work or is it just false advertising.

  23. 23
    natalie says:

    hello wanted to ask if when someone is calling you, when your phone rings.. will the backlight on? according to the other comments i view from others, they claim that they doesnt know who is calling them because the backlighting wasnt on.

    • 23.1

      Hi Natalie, just had a look and I can confirm for you that the backlight definitely 100% lites up when there is a call. I am not sure why some would suggest that but there is definitely no problem with ours.

      • 23.1.1
        Rick says:

        I have had the LG KM900 Arena for some time. The backlighting does come on when you get a call but its meant to go off when you put the phone down. Naturally bringing the phone up is a similar motion to putting it down the backlight will go off once in a while.

  24. 24
    Yago says:

    Is there anywhere i can download a mobile version of windows live messenger for the ARENA?

    Or other app’s?

    Thanks

  25. 25
    Ervina says:

    hi!

    i just got my phone a few weeks. i totally love this phone! the only thing that is bad about it is the battery life. i know its supposed to be 300hours but my phone only lasts for 1 1/2day (internet,email,sms &calls).

    just wondering whether its the battery’s fault or firmware? or is it something else?

    thank you!

    • 25.1
      kenan says:

      hi ervina,
      you share this qestion.
      did you find an answer?
      I woner its.
      if you found, can you write to me
      thanks.

  26. 26
    Fran says:

    I want to configure Google Apps (Google Sync) on my LG Arena, to have my google apps gmail, calendar and contacts syncronized with me phone.

  27. 27
    Malishkasubasinghe303 says:

    CAN ANYBODY TEL ME WATS THE PRICE OF THIS PHONE IN UK!!!!!PLSSSSSSSSSSSSS

  28. 28

    Pretty good post. I merely stumbled upon your website and desired to declare that We’ve really enjoyed reading your web site posts.Anyway Ill be subscribing to your feed and I i do hope you post again soon

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