This is the LG music phone – the U400. As with many LG phones, it’s firmly ingratiated with 3, featuring the 3 Player (their MP3 player interface). LG see it as a contemporary for the Sony Ericsson Walkman range, and since they’ve brought out the W850i it can’t differentiate itself based on its 3G capabilities.
It’s a slider phone which features the MP3 player controls on the front of the handset, as well as call answer and reject buttons. The numbered keypad is revealed when you slide it open.
Because the MP3 controls are on the front of the handset, the U400 successfully stakes its claim as a true phone/MP3 hybrid. It’s got an internal memory of 70MB, and a MiniSD slot which can expend it by a further 1GB. In total this will hold about 500 songs, which doesn’t make it the biggest out there, but will be adequate for many people out there. It’s bundled with a 512MB memory card to get you started.
Because it’s exclusive to 3, it’s integrated with the 3 player – their MP3 interface. This allows you to view your library to include the songs you’ve uploaded onto your phone, as well as those you’ve bought and crucially, those that 3 have available for you to buy. This makes it really easy for you to spend your gas bill money on tracks at 99p a pop.
There are other things that make this a good music phone. Headphones are bundled with it, and appear as standard in-ear headphones, connected into an in-line remote via a 35 mm jack. This means you can quickly discard them and insert your noise cancelling/sporty/just plain comfier headphones. It’s also got stereo Bluetooth, so if you’re a flash git, you can even stream music without the wires. But be warned, as I have previously mentioned, I have never been able to get my Plantronics headphones to connect to an LG phone.
Other positive aspects: the screen is bright and crisp, the camera isn’t hidden under the slide like many of these types of phones (this means you can shoot with it as you would a normal camera), and the colours of the casing make it attractive, and MP3 player-like.
Five minutes out of the box, and the U400 was covered in finger prints – it’s got a nice finish but it’s just not equipped for the real life situation for being touched by a human hand. There’s also a problem using the softkeys. They’re situated on each side of the scrollwheel, which is itself to the left of the phone. Getting to them requires a bit of finger gymnastics and a lot of getting used to.
You can’t transfer music with a simple drag and drop between drives with the U400. There’s software to load and even when this is done, loading tunes is hit and miss. Once you’ve loaded the songs, there is a horrible DJing function that means you can put a kind of ‘wiki-wii-wik’ scratching noise over the top. It’s a horror to behold, although I recognise that if someone else wrote this review, that might well appear in ‘The Good’.
The camera is also nothing of note. It’s 2 megapixels but doesn’t have any zoom or autofocus built in. You do get the feeling that LG concentrated so hard on the music part of the phone that everthing else kind of fell by the wayside. This is particularly obvious when you try to write messages, find contacts or any of that phone type stuff – there aren’t the familiar soft keys that we’ve quickly become to depend on.
In our opinion
The LG U400 is a good MP3 player, with everything you’d want included in an MP3 player. However, without stereotyping too much, I tempted to conclude that the slightly bulky size, and the masculine black and blue casing means that I’m perhaps the wrong sex to fully appreciate it. And to be honest the wiki-wik noise means it will never be found in my bag.