The knock code has for long been used by prisoners to communicate with each other by producing a series of tap sounds. Alphabets, with the exception of K, are visualised in a 5×5 grid, and each letter is represented by two taps. The first tap signifies the row and the second tap tells the column in which the letter is in the grid. Prison authorities couldn’t decipher the code due to the incessant chatter of prisoners using prison walls, bars etc to tap coded messages. When held in isolation this was perhaps the only way that a prisoner could talk to other inmates.
Decades later, Korean electronics giant LG has patented the Knock Code and introduced a striped down version of it in its new entrant to the L Series Collection, the L90. LG in its press release claimed it to be the “most secure pattern unlocking mechanism”. And we put that 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 — human error — the phone picks the sequence and unlocks without delay. You will get a maximum of three tries before it asks you a security question.
The Knock Code wasn’t the only thing that impressed us. The design and build was 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, power button at left, the volume control is at right and the earphones jack is at top. Its textured rear gives you a good grip and the phone feels lighter than LG’s bundled earphones.
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The screen is 4.7-inch in size and it comes with a HD resolution of 960 x 540. All popular video formats — AVI, MP4, etc — are compatible with the device. You don’t need to install one of those popular VLC player from the Play Store for your daily fix of 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. This reviewer finished watching an entire season of Person of Interest without complaining about the colours or pixel density. He wish he could say the same about the speakers, but the audio output seems to be at a frequency lower than the human hearing range.
We weren’t expecting a state of the art, surround sound Dolby speakers, but we weren’t expecting two mini matchbox strips, with holes poked in, to be passed on as speakers either. Another complaint that we have against the L90 is its bundled earphones. They look like one of those things that people from the millennia buried inside a time capsule for future generations to discover. The L90 earphones can be best described as two oversized plastic heads without eyes, ears, nose and mouth. They are simply not designed for the human ear. They 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 8 GB internal memory and the 8 MP 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 fallback on the L70, a phone with almost the same configuration but .2 inch smaller in size.