When LG announced the first Prada back in 2007, it was the handset to have. Anyone with money - indeed, anyone who wanted to show off - had to get one.
The South Korean manufacturer even claimed Apple copied the design for the first iPhone from its flagship phone. Whether that's true is an entirely different story - but it's fair to say that the iPhone has since taken the Prada's crown. And despite a further couple of iterations, it's never managed to steal it back. The phrase/cliche "iPhone killer" is banded about whenever a new device is launched. Question is, is the LG Prada 3.0 the one to claim it? Let's see...
Design and build
Well, it won't be winning any prizes for being miniscule. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Befitting Prada's fashion house ethos, the LG Prada 3.0 is both tall and incredibly slim. Not necessarily a size zero - but not far off.
At 127.5 x 69 x 8.5 mm and weighing 138g, it certainly feels light. In fact, it's just marginally heavier than the Samsung Galaxy SII and creates roughly the same footprint in the hand. A mesh back gives it a feeling of quality whilst an all black, gloss front reiterates that. There are four soft keys beneath the screen - just standard Android fare - but they only light up when needed and, befitting a quality device, there's no light bleed.
As a side note, it's also beautifully packaged. The brown cardboard box that it comes in is actually only protection for the quality faux black crocodile/snakeskin box with velvet interior. And perhaps in a nod to its exclusivity, the outer cardboard box is the only place you'll see the LG logo. Everywhere else, this is simply 'Prada.'
Again, there is a similarity here with Samsung's Galaxy S II. In fact, the screen is both the same size and resolution at 480 x 800 pixels, 4.3 inches (~217 ppi pixel density).
Although it's an IPS LCD model rather than Super AMOLED Plus, we'd say it is just as good. In fact, when you turn the Prada 3.0 on for the first time, it really takes your breath away. This is partly to do with the theme that LG has installed which matches the whole Prada colour scheme. Everything is in black with white icons and text. Sounds boring but looks amazing. It almost glows off the screen and jumps out and really needs to be seen to be believed.
Interface and OS
With the original Prada, LG used a proprietary OS. This time around, it's had the luxury of being a little lazier. Android is now the standard for LG and all it has had to do is add a skin to customise the look. In fact, the similarities here are very obvious when you compare it to, say, an LG Optimus handset.
What LG has done is change the colour screen of the weather widget and icons black and white and slightly altered them and what we're left with is a swish looking interface. Easy, yep. But also very effective. Under the hood, you'll find the bog-standard Android Gingerbread 2.3 rather than Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box.
The Prada 3.0 is equipped with a not-too-shabby 8MP camera. It may be a little 2011 but who cares when it does the job well. With the likes of autofocus, geotagging and an LED flash included, it takes stellar photos that come out well even in pitch black conditions. The zoom may be digital rather than optical (as 99.9% of handsets are) and that makes it a little rubbish for taking photos you'd normally take with a dedicated DSLR but this definitely does the job of a point-and-shoot incredibly well indeed. You also get the obligatory 1.3MP front-facing snapper for video calls and, of course, vanity shots.
As for video, we'd be amazed if this turned out a bad movie and we're pleased to say it doesn't. The HD quality gives us full 1080p HD and movies look amazing. Obviously, they're pretty big files which makes sending them via MMS or email a pain in the Prada-toting backside since there is no way of scaling them down automatically but this is a minor gripe.
Performance and battery life
The Prada 3.0 is a snappy little beggar - we'll give it that. With 1GB ram and a dual-core 1GHz processor, it's on a par with many other high-end smartphones at the moment. We tried to slow it down by opening up various high-maintenance apps and services but we experienced pretty much nothing by way of lag. It grunts along quite happily with the grace of a supermodel.
Unfortunately, it doesn't quite have the stamina of one. At 1540mAh, it's not the largest of batteries and especially not for a phone with such a large, juice-thirsty screen and processor. In fact, we struggled to get a day of medium to heavy use out of the LG Prada 3. We shouldn't be surprised as LG is notorious for having some of the worst battery life among its handsets but we were hoping this premium device would have some premium battery optimisation. In the same way clothes go out of fashion instantly, so does the power on this baby and you'll find yourself needing to charge it up an awful lot. Such is the price of beauty!
- Beautiful form and packaging
- Amazing display
- Fantastic camera
- Stable Android Gingerbread 2.3
- Not different enough from other high-end Androids
- Battery life is a bit of a joke
- May be svelte but is still fairly large in the paws
Verdict: Had Apple not invented the iPhone, had Samsung not given us the Galaxy S II, then the LG Prada 3.0 would be a feat of engineering and design. But alas, anybody who can afford a high-end handset is likely to go for Apple's offering while Samsung's Galaxy S II (and soon-to-be-announced S III) wipes the floor with it. When it comes down to it, this is just another LG Android handset that is not really that much different to any others we've seen before. Camera good, battery bad. It's the story of LG's mobile life and once you've put the snazzy packaging away and got the odd scratch on the screen, what do you have to show for it? Other than a Prada logo that is - because that is all you'll be paying for. It's not that the LG Prada 3.0 is a bad handset, because it's not. But there are just as good others out there. And whilst the Prada name may feel exclusive, unfortunately the Prada 3.0 phone doesn't match it.
A big thanks to Expansys for lending us the review unit.