Review: LG Viewty KU990R

October 3, 2008 / Opinion, Reviews, Technology / 83 Comments

Update (November 2008)

It looks like I have an older firmware. LG has yet to allow people to upgrade their firmware via their website. I will update this post whenever I make my way down to the LG Service Centre at Vivo City.

So, I got another cellphone for work purposes. And this was one of the phone I was considering to buy, if not for the lack of quadband capabilities: LG Viewty KU990R.

LG Viewty KU990R

In Singapore, it comes in three shades: white, pretty pink and sleek black. I had a hard time choosing between to two, but ultimately chose the black. I don’t think anyone will take me seriously with a bright pink cellphone.

LG Viewty KU990R Review


  • Responsive Touch Screen – The first that pops up when you switch on the phone is a touch screen calibrating system, which allows the phone to customize its responses to your fingers. And the touch screen response is simply amazing! So far, I’ve not mistyped an SMS or misfired while playing Space Commando (a futuristic phone version of Counter Strike).
  • Big Bright Screen – Even under the amazingly hot sun of Singapore, the screen is still very clearly visible.
  • Full-Featured Camera – Well, it’s not as a good as a digital camera, but it still performs better than most camera phones in the market. With the flash, it can even take decent night shots. Along with basic camera features, LG has also added different modes, image stabilization and special effects! It’s like the Mac photobooth – only portable!
  • Vibrate Touch Response – One of the common complaints about touchscreen gadgets is the lack of response when you press on something. LG has changed all that. Now the phone vibrates whenever you click on something. Good job!


  • Strange Scrolling Method – With any computer program, you would always scroll down by moving the scrollbar downwards or rolling the scrollwheel downwards. Even my Cowon D2 MP3 player does the same. But LG had to be special and have the user scroll upwards to move the page down, and scroll downwards to move the page up. It’s really confusing my senses even after using it for 2 weeks.
  • Fingerprint Magnet – This is quite standard for most touchscreen gadgets, right? Someone please invent a matte touchscreen!
  • No Full Keyboard – Well, it’s a touchscreen phone, why have a phone keyboard when you can add a full-sized QWERTY keyboard?! Even my tiny Cowon D2 has a full keyboard for the dictionary feature! So size is not a constraint at all!

Pictures from my LG Viewty KU990R

LG Picture
The BMW Garage at the F1 Singapore Grand Prix

F1 Singapore GP - Pit Grandstands
The Pit Grandstands at the F1 Singapore Grand Prix

Ivy’s Final Verdict


On the whole, this is a pretty good phone. Great camera, great touchscreen ergonomics and great looks. The designers clearly put a lot of thought into making this a fashion-forward and functional phone. However, the designers shouldn’t get too carried away by designing a scrolling system that is counter-intuitive. That’s as big of a blunder as replacing the QWERTY keyboard.

But is it an iPhone killer? Definitely not. It’s missing basic internet features like wi-fi, and full-fledged browsers like Firefox, Safari or even Internet Explorer. Although the LG Viewty does have good basic features like Google Maps, GMail and Google. Besides, I don’t really consider the iPhone a real phone with the lack of basic features like changing batteries; it’s more like an iPod that you can make calls with.

All in all, LG Viewty KU990R is the perfect gadget for camwhores and fashionistas (or fashionistos). It’s a great looking phone, packed with solid basic features, and full-fledged digital camera to capture your narcissistic moments.

And if you’re looking for an iPhone killer, look elsewhere – somewhere like the HTC Dream running on Google Android.

  • I wish we had cooler phones to choose from in the US, I don’t think I’d ever get an iPhone.

    • paigan

      How do you turn the button vibrate off? it’s driving me mad!

  • You are definitely lucky to be able to get new phones all from your company! I probably can get that luxury if I actually used my phone more for work. But I don’t. I ended up getting myself a new one, but I’m excited to see what Asia has to offer when I head to Japan!

  • Ashley

    hi, I’m very curious if the bright pink viewty you mentioned is the really hot pink instead of the baby pink one. I’m planning on getting one soon, so it would be great to confirm if Singapore has the hot pink one which comes with a lens cover. I’m from Malaysia so it’s rather difficult for me to confirm. Thanks.

  • Ivy

    @Ashley: Hi Ashley! It’s the light pink one, if I’m not mistaken. Don’t they all have lens covers? My black one has one. πŸ™‚

  • Thanks for writing a review on Viewty! I’ve got a friend who uses it too and she loves it down to every bit except for the scrolling system. Maybe it’s trying to imitate the scrolling style of iPhone – pushing your finger upwards means physically pushing the top content away from you and bringing in the bottom content. LG tries to do it the iPhone way but I guess it has kinda failed.

    Besides the weird scrolling ways and the non QWERTY keyboard, everything seems to be great! The photos are of decent quality although there is significant over-exposure when shot against bright light. There is a lack of contrast and there is a slight red shift in the photos (I’d blame it on the faulty white balance in the camera). BUT when compared to other phones, it’s still the cream of the crop! There are still many phones around that takes 2MP of photos and are blurred beyond recognition πŸ˜€

    The vibrate touch response is definitely a plus point, and that inspired Samsung to include the ‘Touch Back’ feature in their touch phones too! It’s like signalling to the user that the phone has recorded your response, and it feels more real and solid.

    Besides, I don’t really consider the iPhone a real phone with the lack of basic features like changing batteries; it’s more like an iPod that you can make calls with.

    … spot on, Ivy! I’ve always resented Apple for making their things exclusive and non-replaceable (but well that’s what you get from monopolistic firms) because they’re not afraid of losing customers due to their strong brand name. Dammit. I wish they could do something about the battries someday (although highly impossible)

  • Ashley

    @Ivy: hey Ivy, the one with lens cover are actually newer model, that’s why it’s KU990R. The older version ones without lens cover is KU990. That’s disappointing. I really want the bright pink one.

  • sumin

    hey there!
    are they still selling viewty pink in singapore?
    i heard that a lot of places out of stock. πŸ™


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  • Lucie

    Great review! πŸ™‚ im really going to get one now.
    One problem though – i can’t find the ku990R model.
    I Was wondering if you knew if it was availiable in the UK?
    Ive been searching on google but i couldn’t really find about about the ku990R model. Theres plenty about just the ku990 version.
    If you could help me, i’d really appreciate it.

  • Lydia

    i got the KU990R too. and i guess i’m one of the very fortunate few who managed to get it in white. it’s beautiful. ha. apparently this is the one with the camera lens cover. yay.

    one thing i’m wondering about is – why do you say it doesn’t have a qwerty keyboard? hmm. okay, for a while i had a qwerty keyboard, and then i changed the OS to operate in chinese, and i didn’t have it anymore… but when i changed it back to english, i could call up the qwerty keyboard once more. and yet another time when it disappeared, i reset the settings for the phone, and the qwerty keyboard came back. i think it just disappears sometimes. you should really try it again.

    oh but the battery life is really quite pathetic. i have to charge it everyday even though i switched the brightness to 20% and turned off the touch vibration. haven’t tried turning on power saver mode though, i probably should try it someday.

    another con that i have is that the software is more or less incompatible with windows vista, and doesn’t read japanese nor chinese. and i can only transfer files into it by making it a USB device… O_O

    last con – no copy and paste function. this is something i’m quite upset about.

    otherwise, i really do love this phone. and the fact that it’s white. πŸ˜›

  • Ivy

    @Lydia: The white LG is new. The reason you have QWERTY is because you have the latest firmware. I’m probably using one or two versions older; I should head down to the LG service center to upgrade it.

    But it looks like that firmware has also affected your battery life. My LG has a pretty good battery life. I only need to charge it once every 4 days if I leave it on and don’t use it at all. And once every 2-3 days if I make calls, send lots of messages and check my email.

    I use Mac, so I don’t really know the incompatibility woes of Windows Vista. πŸ˜€ Macbooks all come with a built-in bluetooth functionality. So I just bluetooth back and forth.


    hey viewty ku990r has a qwerty keyboard!!

  • Mindy

    Quoted from

    “KU990R has the following advantages over a normal KU990:
    ( I have the KU990R so I know this is true)

    Better, more responsive touch-screen. (On par with iphone)
    Xenon Flash (KU990 has a strobe flash)
    Lens Cover
    The size of pictures taken with the camera is less than 1 MB now
    Speed of camera is improved (About 2-3 second shot to shot time)
    New firmware”

    i quess KU990R is better than KU990

  • Ivy

    @UKIYA: As I explained above, QWERTY keyboard is only available with the latest firmware, which was not what I was given. T__T

  • Einil

    I luv this phone..but one thing..does the memory card only exceed to 2gb???thats kinda bad tough..

  • Ivy

    @Einil: The Viewty can take a memory card larger than 2GB. Just remember to format it with your PC first before inserting it into your phone.

    It may or may not work. The pictures sizes aren’t that big, 2GB is more than enough IMO.

  • Einil

    i see…thanks..1 more thing..the sound system of this phone is totally good right??

  • Luke


    Does this model support 3G?


  • Shubham

    i have just purchased a new ku990R it have a limited messages memory of just 300 msgs is there any way of increasing this limited msgs memory …?????
    by any way by storing msgs on memory card ????
    can i use 4 gb card ?????

  • xiao

    @Rina: iPHONE stinks

  • Ivy

    @Luke: Yups. It’s 3G.

    @Shubham: No, 300 is max. So is mine. There’s nothing you can do about it. You can use a 4GB card, but you’ll need to format it with your PC first before installing it into your LG Viewty KU990R.


    @xiao: Aww… that’s not very nice. I like the iPhone. Although, I’m just itching to get the Google phone. I need my QWERTY man. Hear me, Steve Jobs? QWERTY!!!

  • memo

    hey hi if i use a 1gb memory stick will i need to format it too?

  • Ivy

    @memo: No. The LG KU990R is designed to take up to 2GB memory cards.

    I have to admit that 1GB is more than enough for me though – and I take quite a number of 5MP pictures with it. I guess it depends on what you use the phone for.

  • hi all , thanks for all information about KU990 BUT :

    I have a big question :

    which is bether Nokia 5800xpressmusic or LG ke990 or Ku990R or Samsung F480

    this is very important for me

    thanks alot

  • Ivy

    @mahdi valinejad: Between the KE990 and the KU990R, KU990R wins hands down. KE990 doesn’t support 3G and doesn’t have the self-portrait camera. The main camera in KE990 also does not have flash, if I’m not mistaken.

    As for the Nokia 5800 Xpressmusic, I don’t really know how to compare it to the LG KU990R, since I’ve not familiar with the Nokia Xpressmusic series. Just by looking at the specs, I’d say the 5800 is more feature packed with WIFI support and the latest Symbian operating system.

    I suggest reading up on some 5800 reviews to check out the usability of the phone. Here’s a very extensive one for your reference:

  • jen

    Hi. I also have a LG ku990R. IF I didn’t read incorrectly. You said there is no full keyboard when texting? There is the full keyboard option, regular keypad option, and 2 hand writing options.

  • Ivy

    @jen: Hi Jen, as I’ve already stated in the first paragraph, I have an older firmware – which is why I do not have a full keyboard.

  • EM

    Hi, I would like to know how many hours should I charge for new LG KU990R?

  • Chika

    @EM: six hours for first time i believe. afterwards it’s about two hours. the sales guy told me to take care not to overcharge it because the phone could short circuit and the warranty is limited.

    wondering, does this phone have any compatible downloadable free games around? i wanna more games… TT^TT

  • cg

    hi i just bought viewty ku990r last nite. Can it recognize chinese handwriting? I changed the language to simplified chinese and found no input option using hanyu pinyin, let alone writing. Please help! Thanks a lot.

  • shane

    yeah…i am getting 1 this friday…so…i m so excited

  • Summer

    Hi, Ivy , how to you back up your data esp. Contacts to a Mac? Do you download a PC Suite for Mac? I just got this hp and is still learning. Thanks in advance.

  • Summer

    @cg: In the ‘Create New Message’ area, click on the icon on the bottom leftmost of the screen. Click ‘Writing Language’, choose your desired Chinese language. Then click on the top right rectangular box icon that is currently showing ‘Abc’ and click on the Chinese characters that appears. You can toggle between pinyin and handwriting style already by choosing the ‘Handwriting Recognition’ icon. Hope it’s clear.

  • Nahian

    Hi.. I am gonna buy a viewty very recently. Can any expert tell me what things I should check before the buy. Which is the latest firmware for it? Where can I find the latest firmware? Is there any way to find out if the set is brand new or refurbished? Is there any particular thing to check before the buy?

    And is buying it now a very good idea. As far as I have studied, the set has got very good features in the competitive price. Which firmware has the full qwerty keyboard? Please let me know? The sooner things are cleared the sooner I can buy it.

    Thanks in advance. This has been the most helpful forum I have found so far.

  • Ivy

    @Nahian: Hi Nahian, I don’t suggest you buy the phone now since a new Viewty is coming out very soon (depending on where you are, I guess). It’s called the Viewty Smart GC900. See video here:

    If you still want to get the KU990R, I don’t think you need to worry so much about the firmware with the QWERTY. I got mine Q3 last year, so the firmware is pretty old. The ones that are on sale this year should all have the QWERTY.

    @Summer: Hi Summer, I just transfer my contacts the ancient way – from the SIM card. So I don’t really have a data management program for the Viewty. Sorry can’t help you there. Anyone else can?

  • rina

    I want to know, Can it recognize korean handwriting?can we write message in korean language?

  • Summer

    @rina: You can see a choice of choosing the Korean language in ‘Writing language’ mode.

  • Summer

    @Ivy: So, my current mode of backing up ‘Contacts’ is to export it to external memory and then Bluetooth to Mac. I hope there is a way to backup the entire firmware to Mac, which I regretfully say, is currently unavailable.

  • Summer

    Hi, Does anyone knows how to change the shortcut icons on the Home Screen? You know, when you click the flashing arrows near the bottom, 9 shortcut icons will come out. Click the arrows again, and the shortcuts will scroll away. I want to change what is listed there. Thanks.

  • Summer

    Hi, Does anyone knows how to modify the Multitasking screen? When you press the 9 mini boxes on the top right hand corner of the screen, the Multitasking screen pops out.

  • rina

    really!so we can write message in Korean language..thank you…

  • New owner of lgk990r

    @Mindy: hi there, I own an iPod touch and I just got an lgk990r, and I think the touchscreen is anything but touch sensitive. For one thing, you have to apply force for it to sense anything. The iPhone beats it handsdown. In fact, I’m thinking of switching back to my old Sony Ericsson.

  • Matthew Connors

    You are a n00b. One of your cons is the scrolling method. n00b! Its not a con, its supposed to be like that! Try having a piece of paper, then write some stuff on it, get a smaller one but the centre is cut and pull (the paper which has words on it) up. Now you can see the words below! My you really are a n00b

  • Ivy

    @Matthew Connors: Clearly, you’ve never used an iPhone, a touch screen MP3 player or even Google Phone. You poor deprived soul.

  • April

    i was wondering if we can download additional languages onto the Viewty. Currently, i have most of the european languages, but i would like to have asian languages as well?
    is there someone where i can download the software for it??

  • Matthew Connors

    @Ivy: lol. You are another n00b. I said his con was the “weird” scrolling thingy. the iphone scroll is like the viewty scroll you n00b. I own an iPhone, the viewty and 2 ipod touch. So, the what I explained was the scrolling of the viewty and iphone being realistic instead of the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic which being a stuoid non realistic scroll method.

  • Ivy

    @Matthew Connors: I own an iPhone too. And I don’t like scrolls that go opposite of the page. And there is no comparison between the iPhone and the Viewty. Speed and response time is entirely different. I prefer the Cowon D2’s scrolling method, where it mimics the normal desktop/laptop scrolling style. Since you’re a n00b, you probably would’ve never heard of the Cowon anyway. Tough.

  • Matthew Connors

    @Ivy: Sigh…. Like I explained in my first post… I wrote that moving a piece of paper up from a frame will show you the below contents that was covered. Since you’re a n00b you wouldn’t realize. Hey, at least I’ve got brains.

  • Matthew Connors

    @Matthew Connors: And besides, I was only talking about scrolling method. Which the iphone and viewty have in common, not about speed n00b

  • Ivy

    @Matthew Connors: Clearly you didn’t read my review. I said it was different from Cowon D2, which I preferred. If you have nothing insightful to add except callow namecalling, do everyone a favor and just click the X button on the tab.

  • crystal

    @sumin: nopes ,they dun sell anymore.

  • Min

    im getting LG ku990r tmr!:D
    anyway, can you suggest what colour should i take?
    i just cant decide!!! ):
    which is more of a trend?
    i think black and white are nice.
    whichi which, black or white?? O:

    reply to my email, thanks so muchiez.
    God bless.

  • Ivy

    @Min: I got the black because I use it for work (and I generally wear more black). But I think white and the pastel pink are pretty cute, if that’s the look you’re going for. πŸ™‚

  • Min

    heehe thanks for the tip! (:

  • Martin

    emm…I have KU990R and…it does have a qwerty keyboard O.o! when you go into texting options, there is a small button you press to change the input, can be KEYPAD (like normal buttoned mobile phones), KEYBOARD (qwerty, unlike keypad, only useable with the stylus), and 2 HANDWRITING modes πŸ™‚

    so I dont know which phone you’ve reviewed, but it sure does have qwerty layout!

  • Ivy

    @Martin: Yes, as already explained in the earlier comments, the one I used was of a much older firmware so it didn’t have a QWERTY.

  • Belinda

    Hi! I was reading reviews on the LG Viewty KU990R & came across your site. I’m Sporean too. Just want to say thanks as this forum is really useful. You’re way cool. girl!!! Very well-informed, patient (replying to QWERTY comments from readers who didn’t read the comments section:) and willing & able to stand your ground and defend your views from rare readers who has more time on their hands than they know what to do with…. Keep on rocking!!!

  • Belinda

    Hi, in your opinion how does the HTC Magic compare to the LG KU990R?

    I do tons of sms and used different brands until I switched over to Nokia. Sadly, once I used Nokia I can’t seem to wean myself off a Nokia phone keypad logic. Gave up on a Samsung four years ago after months of struggling. So does anybody know if the LG KU990R “mimics” Nokia for sms text input logic? Seems silly to be held hostage by such a small thing (blush).

    Can I easily upload pdf e-books to read on the go? I have a Macbook with bluetooth.


  • Ivy

    @Belinda: HTC Magic wins, hands down. The OS is better and there are a lot more features. Although, if you’re going the HTC route, HTC Hero is better than the HTC Magic. So I recommend going for the HTC Hero if it’s within your budget. It just came out this weekend if I’m not mistaken. πŸ˜€

    LG KU990R is a pretty basic food, despite it’s decent camera. And that means no e-books, unfortunately. πŸ™

  • Summer

    @Belinda: Hi Belinda , do you mean the T9 text input method? LG Viewty can do it too! Just click the T9 box at the top of messaging for a circle button to turn green.

    You can Bluetooth with a Mac but to read pdf files, think may need a pdf reader. You can try but at your own risk. There is one here:

    Remember to backup before you try anything new! Especially contacts, videos, pictures and sound recordings.

  • Baby

    Me too owned a viewty but was the old version (w/o lens cover) i realise that my phone doesn’t support korean messaging. ONLY NEW VERSION can support is it. Tks ^^

  • omg… the battery life is so miserably short!!! I have to charge every 10 hours!!!

  • Greetings everyone,
    My concern is really about the text messaging area! If I type a whole text and want to view it like scroll back to the beginning to see what I have typed … It doesn’t do it … so basically i’m within the last few words i typed!? Kindly if anyone has something to say about this frustrating feature.


  • hey. .how to use the TV out?

  • Belinda

    Hello! A quick update for other users. I signed on a 2-year contract to have the Ku990r at no extra cost. Sms is my main mode of use and this is my first “PDA”/ touch screen phone.

    So far I have gotten used to sms via the touch screen keypad. The “touch vibrate” function is cool! The tactile feedback simulates using a physical keypad. Although a couple of keys can be better placed IMO – it’s way too easy to trigger the “save to draft” mode. The thing is to remember is not to choose either “Yes” or “No” (the latter discards the sms w/o saving it). Hit the “c” cancel button instead to get back to typing. I can’t believe how long it took for me to figure that out!! :O

    I explored and found another useful tip. To delete more than 1 sms at a time, select the little “menu” icon on the lower left corner of the screen. Do not choose “delete”. Instead select “mark/unmark”. That will bring you to a screen where you can mark the messages that you wish to delete. Then hit the “delete button” on the bottom centre of the screen. I think some users have not discovered this function, since there were complains about the inability to mass-delete messages on other forums. Well, who can blame them… the KU990r manual that comes with the phone is SAD. Hey LG, it doesn’t matter how great the product if your customers don’t have proper instructions on how to use it!

    I am not sure if the above applies to emails since I don’t use the email function.

    I can listen to audiobooks on the Ku990r and also watch mp4. Waiting to free up space to test m4v files.

    To other Mac users like me, you will find bluetooth is easy for transfering of files. What is more problematic is doing it via the miniUSB cable. Unfortunately KU990r is not compatible with Macs (mass storage device mode). In my case, I can’t eject the phone properly from my Mac. The phone keeps reconnecting itself to my Mac! So you either have to unplug the cable with fingers-crossed or power down your Mac to disengage the phone. The latter is a real pain. LG Helpline couldn’t help…they just kept saying their phones are not fully Mac-compatible. I bought myself a miniSD card reader, so will try that method next.

    I have not found a good way to read ebooks – does anyone know?? The KU990r pdf reader is lame and essentialy not condusive to reading ebooks. I downloaded several applications eg. Mobipocket Reader, but can’t figure where to store the pdf files for the application. The LG technical desk at Vivo City tried unsuccessfully to help. Well, guess can’t fault them for lack of familiarity since those applications are not LG proprietary software.

    The LG battery is weak. 1.5-2 days if I only sms and switch off the phone at night. An hour of listening to audiobook will consume up to 50% battery strength. Other users have commented LG battery life is susceptible to overcharging. I bought an extra battery AND a timer plug for paranoia sake.

    Last comment. I can’t seem to get the hang of the touch screen scroll function. I keep over- or under- shooting my mark. I think its just me. I use the camera toggle wheel instead for better control.

    All in all, I can live with this phone since my needs are fairly basic. For sophisticated users or people who can afford a higher budget, I suspect another phone may be more suitable.

  • fay

    do you happen to know how to remove shortcuts on home screen?? so that i can see my wallpaper……

  • Summer

    @fay: Hi Fay, At the bottom of your home screen, can you see two groups of flashing arrows? One set is pointing left and the other is pointing right. Pressing either of them will remove the shortcuts.

  • Summer

    Hi , does anybody knows, why sometimes the sms send function will ask ‘Send sms without saving? Yes of No’ (something like that) ? I don’t know what trigger it.

  • Summer

    Hi everyone, My number of sms messages is full well before the stipulated 300 messages is up. Does anyone knows why? It’s only 200++ number of messages.

  • tayluh

    you can change the phone keyboard to a qwerty keyboard when your sending a message. it has both…

  • eternal blaze

    hiie=) may i ask if what format of video does this phone support? when u watch videos are they clear and stuff? thanks!

    • Ivy

      Video formats: 3GPP, MP4 and DivX Mobile. They’re quite clear but this is quite an old phone so there are better phones out there that can do video playback.

      If you’re planning to use your phone for video playback, I suggest getting a phone with an AMOLED screen. It’s sharper than a TV or a computer monitor. Samsung and HTC makes AMOLED phones. Some AMOLED phones include: Samsung Jet and Nexus One.

  • eternal blaze

    thxs!may i ask if all lg phones are camera phones? are there like music phones(i want touch screen phones)for lg?or better but not very ex phones of other brands?

    • Lg camera quite unique

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  • vikas patidar

    very nice pics

  • letta

    i just want to know if you could use this phone with any us wireless providers??? and does it have a sim card slot?

  • hai
    saya mau nanya nich
    cara pemindahan data dari hp lg ku990r ke komputer gimana yah?
    dah saya coba tetap aja gak bisa.

  • Jen

    Hi, do you know how to write in Korean with Viewty?
    I just got this phone and wondered how I could write in Korean.
    I can definitely read in Korean right now, but can’t reply back πŸ™

  • sasi

    how to connect ku990r to tvout ,i tried it using my viewty head phones and nokia tv out cable, can i use that combination to play videos on tv? bcoz i dont have a lg tv out cable….tanks in advance πŸ™‚

  • edwin

    My touch screen of my LG Viewty is not working. Please help me what to do.

  • bratans

    @sasi… the tv out cable is a separate accesory…