Review: LG Chocolate 3
The Chocolate 3 is a definite departure from the previous two models. Where the Chocolates 1 and 2 were sliders, the 3 is a clamshell. It does retain the scroll wheel on the front face, though, which is how you interact with the phone when it is closed.
The C3 is a nicely sized phone. It's not too big, not too small, and is the perfect weight (which is to say, it's light). It rests comfortably in your hand when closed or open, and the soft touch paint job on the back gives it that extra bit of grip so you can hold it securely, even with sweaty hands.
The front face of the phone has a generously sized display, below which is the scroll wheel. I am not a fan of scroll wheels, and the C3's does nothing to impress me. It feels cheap and plastic-y. Granted, it works better than others I've used (meaning it is more responsive), but I just can't get over the Fischer-Price feel to it. The scroll wheel doubles as a D-pad, and since you can do so much with the phone when it is closed, you'll be using it a lot. The center select button inside the scroll wheel feels slightly better than the scroll wheel itself.
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On the left side of the C3, you'll find one of the most welcome changes for this music-oriented phone: a 3.5mm headset jack. That means you can use your regular headphones with the C3, something you couldn't do with previous versions of the phone. It comes with a little rubber pin to protect the jack, but I promptly lost it. Below the jack is a volume toggle. The button is easily found, but I thought the travel and feedback felt a little cheap. Below that is the microphone key for recording memos. Last up is the hatch protecting the microUSB port. It is easily opened by your fingernail.
Focusing on the right side, the lock/unlock key is the top-most key. It is easy to find, and travel and feedback are good (much better than the volume toggle!). Just underneath that is a dedicated music key. LG was smart to put this key on the side of the phone. This way, your music is only a key-press away when the phone is both open and closed. It also has good travel and feedback. At the bottom of the right side is the hatch door for the microSD slot. Inserting and retrieving cards was not a problem.
With the phone open, you can use the C3s standard keypad, which is much improved over previous Chocolates. Where the keypads on the C1 and C2 were cramped, the C3's keypad is generously sized. They keys are easy to reach, have good travel and feedback and there's just the right amount of material separating each key so they are easier to find without looking.
Above the keypad is a regular D-pad, which is surrounded by a bevy of buttons. The D-pad itself is about the size of a quarter. All four directionals, plus the center button, work well and have good travel and feedback. At the 11 and 1 o'clock positions are the two soft keys. At the 9 and 3 o'clock positions are the speakerphone key and camera key. At the 7 and 5 o'clock positions are the send and end keys. And at 6 o'clock you have the clear key. All the keys are large and usable, presenting an equal amount of travel and feedback.
In sum, the C3 may not have the slick appearance and touch-capacitance features of the C1 or C2, but it is a much more usable chunk of Chocolate.