"Chocolate" is a storied word in the phone industry. In terms of brand recognition, it's right up there with RAZR and iPhone thanks to well-executed marketing campaigns by both LG globally and Verizon in the US, but more recently, LG has moved on to other marques -- Shine and Secret, to name a couple -- leaving Chocolate to trickle downmarket. We wouldn't exactly call the Chocolate 3 "downmarket," but its launch is definitely not being played up to the same extent as, say, the original VX8500's was; these days, those honors seem go to iPhone fighters like the Dare.
So is the subdued launch justified? In our quick testing, we came away really impressed with our unit, which happened to be black (light blue is also available). Though the inside's nothing to write home about, the phone's exterior is really attractive in person thanks to a glossy (almost double-shot) finish, generous landscape external display, and a raised nav wheel that we found really easy to use. It actually spins -- imagine that!
Sound quality using the 3.5mm headphone jack was excellent with minimum background noise, though the loudspeaker was pretty tinny -- we wouldn't recommend using it to play music under any realistic circumstances. If the jack had been moved to the top or bottom edge, this would be a near-perfect music phone (which is what it's designed to be), but its location on the side makes it pretty awkward to shove into a pocket with headphones attached. Still, the 1GB of internal storage, microSD expansion, and FM transmitter make for a compelling, pretty package -- and another device worthy of the Chocolate brand.
*Verizon has acquired AOL, Engadget's parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.