Unsound Deal

A user can preset a tap sequence on a 2x2 grid and use it to unlock the screensaver.

Written by Leela Prasad | Published: May 11, 2014 12:55 am
L90 is a mid-segment smartphone let down by its speakers. L90 is a mid-segment smartphone let down by its speakers.

The knock code has for long been used by prisoners to communicate with each other by producing a series of tap sounds, perhaps the only way for them to talk. On the prison walls, alphabets, with the exception of K, are visualised on a 5×5 grid like a square keyboard, and each letter is represented by two taps. The first tap signifies the row and the second tap is for the column.

Korean electronics giant LG has now patented the knock code in its new entrant to the L series, the L90, calling it the “most secure pattern unlocking mechanism”. We put it to the test.

A user can preset a tap sequence on a 2×2 grid and use it to unlock the screensaver. One would presume, the more the number of taps, the more secure the phone is. For all practical purposes, we set a 10-tap unlock sequence. Barring a few minor hiccups, owing to human error, the phone picks the sequence and unlocks without delay. You will get three tries before it asks you a security question.

The design and build is as impressive as the technology under its 4.7-inch hood. The ergonomics of the L90 are optimal. The charger slot is at the bottom of the phone, the power button on the left, the volume control on the right and the earphone jack on top. Its textured rear gives you a good grip, and the phone feels lighter than LG’s bundled earphones.

The screen comes with a HD resolution of 960×540. All popular video formats, like AVI and MP4, are compatible with the device. You don’t need to install one of those popular VLC players for your daily fix of serials like Person of Interest or Game of Thrones. The resolution may seem a bit lacking in pixels, but the video output is more than what you could have bargained for. We finished watching an entire season of Person of Interest without complaining about the colours or pixel density. We wish we could say the same about the speakers. The audio output seems to be at a frequency lower than the human hearing range. We weren’t expecting state-of-the-art, surround sound Dolby speakers, but two mini matchbox strips, with holes poked in, to be passed on as speakers was a surprise.

Another complaint that we have against the L90 is its bundled earphones. They can be best described as two oversized plastic heads without eyes, ears, nose and mouth. They are simply not designed for the human ear, and need to be superglued to stop them from slipping out of the earhole.

The L90 is powered by the latest Android OS, the 4.4 KitKat. The OS and the phone’s hardware appear to be in perfect sync, running applications seamlessly, but expect the phone to hang when you try to lock the screen.

Other notable features are the 8GB internal memory and the 8MP camera. The L90 also comes with a dedicated button for switching between SIM cards. Overall, the L90 makes a good mid-segment smartphone. If the Rs 17,499 price feels heavier on the purse, you can always fall back on the L70, a phone with almost the same configuration, but 0.2 inch smaller in size. n

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