When Phones Were Fun: LG Crystal (2009)

this video is sponsored by hellofresh america's number one meal kit the last time i brought you back to 2009 to show you a semi-transparent phone the label on the casing said sony and the clear part was the screen this time around the name on the box says lg and it's the keypad that's crystal clear all right before we get started a little psa for those of you who may have caught the vintage mobile phone bug from some of these episodes that's great but if you're buying an old gadget please confirm with the seller that it works first it sounds obvious i know but it's so easy to get caught up in the excitement and pull the trigger on a rare device auction before doing your due diligence that's what happened to the device that was supposed to be the star of this video the aol mobile communicator whose password its owner forgot sometime in the 20 years since he bought it and in a cruel twist the same thing happened to my first backup choice the oft requested samsung juke eventually i'll get other samples of these or figure out how to reset my way around the lockouts those videos will be done but just learn from my mistake verify functionality before you shell out all right on to the device of the day the lg gd900 better known by its code name lg crystal was widely requested in the comments of my xperia pureness video and now that i have one in my hands i understand why while the sony is flashier from a futurist perspective the lg is much more practical keep the phone shut and it easily blends in among its contemporaries echoing the lines of the lg voyager while recalling the company's chic prada line with this brushed metal effect on the function keys sadly the effect is just that as with almost every phone you could buy in 2009 the majority of this device was plastic that almost seemed to come out of the box already greasy but no other phone gave you a slide out touch pad quite like this it's glass and for good reason it's not just a keyboard but a capacitive trackpad that means you could control parts of the interface using gestures or move a mouse pointer on screen without obscuring the screen itself that sounds familiar maybe you were a blackberry fan many of that brand's devices starting with the passport and carrying right on through to the key2 offered a similar capacitive keyboard but i never knew when i first saw that feature in 2014 that lg had beaten blackberry by some five years and because it's glass on the crystal you're not dragging your thumb over physical keys to do it it is really identical in feel to using a touchscreen and honestly i think that's how lg achieved this it seems to be just the digitizer component of a touch panel built into glass with etched numerals and some led side lighting that never stays on long enough for me to get the shot but that's beside the point the crystal was forward thinking in other ways too in an era when front-facing cameras were still rare in the us this phone packed one of course its vga quality doesn't hold up to any of the modern marvels from 11 years later but the point is it was there the counterpart to this camera was an 8 megapixel primary shooter around back pretty high res for the day which you could activate with the dedicated shutter button and don't you dare even think about using the crop style digital zoom the old-fashioned way no no for that you trace the shape of a circle on the keypad to zoom in or out slowly and painfully while trying to make this work i couldn't help but think about some of lg's more recent experiments in user interface design i guess some things never really change powering the phone was a 1 000 milliamp hour battery it's about a third the average size of a modern smartphone which you could remove and replace but you didn't have to do so to get at the microsd card slot which was a somewhat rare convenience also audio files get your pearls ready for clutching this was one of the many devices of the period to omit a full-size headphone jack with lg instead bundling special earbuds that plugged into the micro usb port of course bluetooth was also available should you want to be one of those guys to my eye the crystal holds up quite nicely in 2021 seems like every time i look at it i find a new aspect to appreciate like the tasteful gradient that traverses the battery door from transparent through smoky grade piano black just before the word transparent appears to tell my brain what my eyes already know but you know while this series is called when phones were fun i got to tell you there are things i do not miss about this period in proto smartphone software design let me go cook up that list while i share with you some other stuff i've been cooking lately what if i told you the difference between this and this is less than an hour with no trip to the grocery store today's video is sponsored by hellofresh who sent over a calorie smart meal kit this month because with all this winter weather i haven't been able to get as many steps in as i'd like on top of that i haven't been cooking as much so my kitchen skills have gotten a little rusty as it turns out though hello fresh is so easy even i couldn't screw it up instead of undercooking the cranberry dijon pork tenderloin and overcooking the wasabi soy chicken like i expected each one came out perfectly and you know if i sound proud of that i am i never expected to be able to serve a meal that tastes delicious cuts calories and saves time just by following directions well hellofresh does all that with pre-portioned ingredients that give you everything you need and nothing you don't whether you go meat veggie pescetarian carb smart whatever you want to do plus it works with your schedule so you can add a meal or skip a week whenever you need go to hellofresh.com and use code 10 mr mobile to get 10 free meals including free shipping again go to hellofresh.com and use code 10 mr mobile to get 10 free meals including free shipping thanks to hellofresh for sponsoring this video okay so yeah in the wake of the iphone of 2007 and the first android phone of 2008 almost every manufacturer that wasn't using an existing smartphone platform was trying to push its own custom solution the lg crystals was called s-class and while it actually won an award at the time i'm forced to agree with flora graham who in a contemporaneous review for cnet wrote that s-class was low-class this is just the absolute perfect storm of all the overwrought design decisions that were happening at the time you've got a spinning 3d cube for a home screen widgets that are allowed to stack on top of one another for some reason every icon drips with the cloying skeomorphism that apple made popular with the first iphone but tragically the responsiveness of that iphone and android contemporaries like the motorola droid is nowhere to be found here in other words the crystal is slow but of course it was a product of its time and buried among all the lag and cuteness are some delightful totems of the turn of the decade for example accelerometers were still a fairly new addition to phones so lg loaded this thing up with gesture driven games that taught you how to use it with a virtual ping-pong paddle or a virtual fishing pole manufacturers were also opening up other phone sensors to developers for the first time too so you had apps like mellow candle with a flame that would react to how hard you blew on the microphone sure it's all stuff you can get for free in the app store today but at the time this was as groundbreaking as that lightsaber app for the nokia n95 or yeah the beer app for the iphone it was all about exposing you to sensors on the phone that you didn't necessarily know about and usage paradigms that you didn't necessarily consider and then there's the side benefit of reminding you that lg has always known how to build a powerful [Music] speakerphone [Music] eleven years after this phone hit the market for about 700 us dollars we're entering the biggest period of uncertainty that lg mobile has ever faced as such i'm currently working on a tour of some of the company's phones that i've found most interesting over the years but while i've never owned it myself this one in particular is special despite its software flaws which lg would effectively solve by sensibly shifting its focus to android soon after its release the crystal is a singular blend of everything i've long appreciated about lg an eye for beauty but an appreciation for restraint and a willingness to try something crazy if for no other reason then no one's ever done it before it's a totem from a time when twin touchscreens still felt like the future and phones were fun this episode was produced following an insanely rushed day with the gd 900 crystal purchased by mr mobile lg had no say in its production and provided no compensation for same quick shout out to os reviews on youtube for an in-depth walkthrough of this phone that taught me a few things if you haven't had enough of this phone i will link you to that video below check out earlier videos in this series at the mr mobile on youtube and please subscribe so you don't miss future features on old and new mobile tech alike until next time thanks for watching and until you get that jab in the arm remember to stay safe and mask up while you stay mobile my friends you

As found on YouTube