By December 1, 2009

LG BL40 Chocolate review

LG have produced a new form factor for the BL40 – a long, slim design with a full 21:9 cinematic widescreen display. The second edition of the top selling Chocolate is here.


The LG BL40 Chocolate


What’s in the box?

  • BL40 Device
  • 1000mAh Battery
  • USB Data cable
  • Earphones/mic kit
  • Userguide & software


Have a look at Matt’s LG BL40 unboxing video for more.


LG BL40 Chocolate Specification:

  • General: GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, UMTS 1900/2100 MHz, EDGE class 10, HSCSD, GPRS, HSDPA 7.2 Mbps
  • Form factor: Candy Touchscreen bar
  • Dimensions: 128 x 51 x 10.9 mm ( 5×2×0.4 inch )
  • Weight: 4.6 oz.
  • Display: Unique 4" TFT 16 million colors capacitive touchscreen with 21:9 aspect ratio and 800 x 345 pixels resolution, Multi-touch input method,
  • scratch resistant glass
  • Camera: 5-megapixels auto-focus camera with Schneider-Kreuznach lens, LED flash, geo-tagging, image stabilization, face detection, Smile Shot,
  • Blink detection, Intelligent shot, Beauty and Art shot, VGA video recording at 30 fps
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi (WLAN), Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP, standard microUSB v2.0 port, GPS receiver with A-GPS, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Messaging: SMS, MMS, T9 text function, E-mail, Internet browsing
  • Entertainment: FM radio, Java, Audio player ( eAAC, MP3, WAV ), Video player ( DivX, H263, MP4, xVID )
  • Platform: Latest S-Class Touch UI
  • Other features: UI auto-rotate, Auto turn-off, Gesture controls, 3.5 mm audio jack, DMSE, Games, TV out
  • Internal Memory: 1GB internal memory
  • External Memory: microSD card slot ( up to 32GB )
  • Battery: Standard battery, Li-Ion 1000 mAh
  • Talk time: about 3.2 hours
  • Standby time: up to 250 hours

About the device

The most striking aspect of the BL40 is undoubtedly the slim, tall dimensions and screen. The front of the device is dominated by the extra large TFT touchscreen. Space remains at the top of the screen for the speaker grill and forward facing camera, and a simple silver LG logo sits below it. Its a minimalistic approach, made possible by the large screen. The dual purpose screen means menu command buttons don’t need to be hardware based – they just take up a percentage of the screen space.

LG BL40 front view

LG BL40 front view


The top of the device has a rather tasty orange/red finish, on which sits the power/lock switch, and a standard 3.5” audio jack. The orangey finish might sound odd – but it looks VERY nice indeed.

LG BL40 top view

LG BL40 top view


The side to the left of the screen houses the none-standard USB(ish) port, which covers both charging and data needs. Midway down the side is a dedicated music button, which whisks you directly to the music player within the OS.

LG BL40 left side

LG BL40 left side


The right hand side has a volume control, made up of two simple push buttons, and a two-stage camera shutter control – push half way to focus, depress to take a shot.

LG BL40 right side

LG BL40 right side


The bottom of the device again has the orange/red finish, and just a small mic on an otherwise empty panel.

LG BL40 bottom view

LG BL40 bottom view


The back of the phone has another grey LG logo towards the bottom, and the camera, with flash sits towards to the top of the device.

LG BL40 back view

LG BL40 back view



  • That screen – Responsive and bright vivid colours make this one of the best displays you’ll find on a phone
  • Video playback – The 21:9 screen layout provides proper cinema-format widescreen – and movies do look pretty awesome on it!


  • Battery life – It’s not the worst I’ve come across, but at only 1000mAh it seems to run out far too quick.
  • Size/Shape – I’m totally sold on the long-and-thin shape. Yet.


I guess the original Chocolate phone was a bit of a era-defining one in the none-smartphone world, and LG flogged a crazy number of units worldwide. Onc e again with the “new Chocolate” LG are trying to refine the phone. Clearly the USP here is the 21:9 full cinema widescreen display – no hardware buttons, just one large touchscreen covering all control needs itself. It actually works pretty well, and while other phones have already switched hardware buttons for touchscreens, the extra size here really helps.

The screen is visually stunning – despite being extremely slim, despite being an extremely large TFT size, its bright, colourful and very responsive to touch.

Just to get a rather disappointing area out of the way to start with – as it could well be connected tot that lovely screen – the battery is not great. I tried to get some information to back this up, but its hard work judging battery life when the phones own battery guage appears to have taken crack. It’s simply all over the place, with options basically consisting of ‘full’ or ‘empty’

Now I’ll admit I didn’t make many calls on the phone, but during light testing the call quality was perfectly acceptable, as was the speakerphone function. Callers reported dubious sound quality when I was using the mic in speakerphone mode, but I guess thats to be expected.

As usual with LG, the S Class OS is onboard, and personally I struggle with it. I like how they are trying to the best features of other more expensive phone, but in places the OS just ends up in a mess of dead end menu structures and page after page of similar sounding options. LG seem to constantly get the hardware side of things spot on, but I do think work is needed on on the software side.

I wouldn’t normally comment too much on the general phone functionality but its worth mentioning the messaging app, covering both sms and email. The long screen splits into a dual screen layout, and the messaging app mimics Outlook’s reading pane view. Your message list is displayed on the left, and the full message text of your selected item is shown on the right. I like it – a lot.

The lock screen takes the form of a large glass panel, which you ‘swipe up’ to remove, and unlock the device. However from this lock screen you can also use various built in – but customisable -finger gestures to take you directly to different areas of the OS. It’s actually a decent feature really. It’s of no detriment to the general purpose of the lock screen – I didn’t have any accidental unlocks, but does save time if you customise it to taste.

Because most phone networks don’t seem to be able to provide a decent signal to my house, I spent a lot of time relying on the WIFI, and bl40 didn’t let me down. It was fairly easy to set up – saving the network key automatically, and from then on – just working.

Although the built in browser gets the most out of the screen real-estate, I was interested to know whether Opera would install. Oddly it wouldn’t – despite the java engine launching correctly (with a on-screen keyboard taking up some of the screen), Opera itself wouldn’t install. Sticking with the internal browser did allow me to experience the multi-touch interface, and its not bad really. It’s got all the usual sweepers and pinches found on the iphone and android, but I found it to be a bit laggy, and very hard to find an acceptable zoom level at times. It also seemed to do some odd things when switching from portrait to landscape modes.

The 5 megapixel camera was somewhat disappointing in terms of pure quality, but the app itself, packed with features, was pretty impressive. There is an abundance of functionality, with multiple shooting modes, stabilisation and geo-tagging all ready to go. There is a manual focus option, but it is missing the iphone-style touch-to-focus method. Sadly despite the multitude of ISO and white balance options, photos suffered from noise even in bright conditions, and I couldn’t find a white balance option I was happy with. It’s suffers a bit with over-exposure, but this seems to affect quite a few camera phones, regardless of actual resolution. Video quality is acceptable without being anything to write home about.

As described above, the 3.5 audio jack means you can use your favourite earphones with ease. However, for a change a device manufacturer hasn’t just bunged in the cheapest plasticy headset they could buy. There’s a kit of different size rubber ‘buds’ and the earphone offer genuinely good quality sound. I’m sure it won’t be enough to please the real audiophiles, but they are much better than you’d usually get with a phone.

The music player is very much as any other – full playlisting ability, search by various different ID fields, Dolby Mobile support and various different visualisations – which do look pretty cool on the large screen.

Providing you get the aspect ratio right, you can’t help but be impressed by the video playback on the 21:9 screen. It’s large enough to be used to watch a film without eye strain, and as I keep saying, that screen is beautiful.

Oddly for such a fashion conscience phone, there appears to be only a limited number of skins (ok.. 2), and no ability to add or create your own. OS Customisation appears to be limited to the lock screen and menu background image. You can change the font size and style, but colour scheme editing is out.




The BL40 has its problems, but has enough stand out features to hide these issues. The screen is obviously, and rightly its most impressive feature, whether using core phone functionality with the dual screen mode, or watching a film on the move. Just make sure you have an AC adaptor or spare battery!

The New Chocolate has enough high-spec goodies to be a head-turner, and it’s by far the best LG phone I’ve used. It’s definitely aimed at the video-friendly side of the market, and as a video-playback phone it does very little wrong. While it’s not perfect, and not right for everyone, it’s hard not to recommend what is a very good phone from LG.


Review by: Mark

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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