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Probably the best "simple phone" you can get from VZW
Written: Apr 9, 2012
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
I'll start by saying that I am relegated to a "simple/ basic phone" due to being on a family plan (which contains zero data/smartphone features), which saves me a lot of money each month on my phone bill. Of course I'd like to have the latest, greatest smartphone, but spending $100+ a month on a phone isn't for me.
I have had this phone for about 9 months now, so I feel I can give it a full and accurate review. I will proceed through design, functionality - text, call, camera usage, and pros and cons. This is going to be a long review - it seems like whenever I get a new phone, I wish I had someone who took the time to explain it well. It's a longer-term investment, since you'll have it for two years (theoretically), so it's important!
It's a flip phone, plain and simple. Generally, it has the square "candy bar" profile that many people like. The front has the usual number buttons, a D-pad, and send/end/contacts/clear buttons. The numerical buttons are arranged in four rows across the front, with each row of 3 buttons being one piece of plastic. In other words, there are no individual keys to the front for you to press. The front screen is bright, with clear definition. Around the side you have the camera button, sound rocker for adjusting the ring volume, and a small headphone jack, which you will be unlikely to use since you'd have to get special headphones. There is also the port for mini-USB charging and syncing. On the back there is a brown metal plate covering the battery (I personally like that part of my phone is brown) and a 3.2MPX camera with flash.
Flipping the phone open, you find the longer horizontal interior screen. It's flanked by a speaker on either side. They are two real speakers, not one speaker and one set of little holes to make you think there's another speaker present. The keyboard is arranged QWERTY, and each button is nearly flush with the phone, and is square shaped. There is also a D-pad here for navigation, as well as send/end and OK buttons. You can also access the speakerphone from here.
Since this phone will be purchased by texters largely, I will cover that first. Starting with the exterior, the T9 function on this phone is very difficult and unwieldy. It seems like it has little knowledge of English, and chooses unlikely words rather than more useful ones. Trying to hold this phone in one hand and text from the front is also difficult because of the button placement. Given that most people who use this phone will be right-handed, they should not have put the "space" button at the bottom right of the phone. In my right hand (I have average sized hands) my thumb has to cramp itself to reach the space button. It's not a natural movement for texting, because it's too far of a bend to be comfortable. On the bottom left side of the keypad, they put the shift key, one of the least important for fast texting. I have only texted with the front of the phone about three times, and I gave up each time and opened the phone to do the rest.
On the interior front, things are better. The spacing of the keys is okay for your fingernails (it will be difficult if you have large fingers, as the keys are very small with no space between them). They're flat, so you have to look at the keyboard to type - no tactile feedback to know where your fingers are. As well, the keys feel hard to push, like they snapped the buttons down too far at the factory, so there's little travel. I am sure it was designed this way, but it causes an unsure feeling when you are typing. Having this phone nearly a year now, I am still not used to this feeling when texting (I text regularly, every day). The flat nature of the keys does enable you to slide your fingers around, not having to pick them up so far, making things a bit faster.
Past the ergonomics of the keyboard, the texting menus are much like any other recent VZW phone, with menus for contacts and messages received. I have my messages arranged by contact, but you also have the option to arrange them by date. This would seem more difficult however, because all your conversations will be scrambled in a big list. I think they would be very hard to keep track of this way.
There is also an auto-open function for messages, where they come up without you having to press OK to read them. I used this function for a short while, but found it annoying. If you are typing a text to someone and you get a new message, the phone automatically saves your message as a draft, and opens the new message. This was very irritating, and made it nearly impossible to carry on more than one conversation at a time, so I disabled it.
On the same topic, whenever you are typing a message and you get another, the phone notifies you with the "new message" screen, giving you the option to open the message or ignore it. This gets old quickly, as the actual action of receiving the message means the phone does not pick up on the last couple of words you were typing. Since you're already looking at the keyboard to type, you might not notice immediately that you have a new message on the screen. I have wasted a lot of time typing while on the new message screen - only to have to clear the new message and resume what I was doing before.
If you choose to open the new message, your current message you were working on is saved as a draft. This is fine - but is limited to 20 drafts total on the phone. It becomes an issue, because when you open a message to read it, even though you might not have started a reply to the previous message (only a blank message box to type in) the phone saves it as a draft. You find that your draft box is quickly full of messages with no words on them. Then, when you go to open a new message, and want to save the one you were actually working on, it says "draft box full" and you lose your message entirely. Eventually you learn to eye your draft box when you are texting people, and clear it out before it causes an issue. I feel VZW should program a phone to know when the message box has zero content in it, and not save a draft. The same goes for exiting messages. If I press "end" and don't want my message (again, even if the message is blank) I get a "Do you want to save as a draft?" notification. If you DO save as a draft, and then press end/clear, you get another message, asking if you want to save. So potentially there are 3 or 4 drafts started for each text message, depending on how often you get interrupted, and how many times you say yes to saving a draft.
When viewing a conversation on the inside of the phone, you will get a more simple message box saying "new message from _______" and it comes up at the bottom, like an instant message. Then, you only have to type to reply to it. However, there is no option to have this view as standard. You must go through your menu, and open an existing conversation manually. When you receive a new text and open it from the "new text" red screen, it takes you ONLY to that message, not to conversation view. I feel this is limiting, and causes you more work to be able to see the whole discussion. Sometimes texts are far apart, and it's more helpful to see previous messages.
Generally the phone is pretty responsive, but when you are in conversation view or listening to music, the typing response is very slow. By this, I mean I can get 4 or 5 words ahead of what the phone is displaying on the screen. It really throws you off when you have a keyboard sound enabled, as the sounds are aligned with the letters on the screen, not your actual pressing of buttons.
For each message sent, you get a check mark indicating it was sent successfully. This is nice, because when you don't get one (for any reason) you know your message didn't go through. Fail messages occur many times, for various reasons. The most prevalent is when you are getting another text message. If you press send, and your phone is in the process of receiving a message from someone, your message will not send. I cannot tell you how often this happens since I text a lot, and it's hard to explain how frustrating it is. In my opinion, the phone should wait til my message is sent, then download the new one. Same thing happens with picture and video messages. As you type, and receive a message you get a CONNECTING screen, which does not allow you to type at all. You must wait for whatever message it is to download, then tell the phone you don't want to read it, then you can continue typing. It's tiresome.
Using the phone menu to navigate contacts is pretty easy, and typing from the front of the phone for a couple of letters to pull up a contact is easy as well. The simple send/end is fine. Call quality is generally good, and the speaker on the handset gets pretty loud if need be. Be warned, it's not a concentrated type sound (more of a wide-spreading type), so anyone around you is going to hear what's being discussed when the volume is up high. I generally don't have any connectivity issues, and you can turn on an option to play a beep sound, to tell you when the call has been connected. No beep sound means you're still waiting to connect.
The speakerphone is pretty good, and pretty loud. I credit the high quality speakers as part of the "music" appeal of this phone. Several people have commented at their surprise with the quality and volume of the little speakers on the inside of this phone. These people were smartphone users as well, generally reticent to admit a basic phone can do anything better than their metallic-God-cum-smartphone. If you're on a call with the phone closed, and flip it open (I have done this many times so I can do other things while talking) it goes to auto-speakerphone, so you don't have to press anything. People are able to understand me while on speaker, as long as there isn't a lot of background noise. Beware, they can always tell you have them on speaker.
My beef with the speakerphone functionality is - when you turn it on (from the phone's interior button), you get a message that says "Speaker will be turned off after 1 minute of inactivity." So you make a call within a minute, and the speakerphone is indeed on. If you end the call, leave the phone open, and make another call in 10 seconds, the speaker will be off. This is annoying when I want to make a series of calls, because I have to mess with settings each time! It hasn't been a minute of inactivity, so the speaker shouldn't be off.
The battery life of this phone (while talking, texting, or music usage) is excellent. I can charge it while in the shower, and that's enough to keep me going all day long. Maybe once a week I charge it overnight, and the rest of the time it just gets charged while I get ready in the morning. Best battery life of any phone I've ever had!
Plain and simple, the phone isn't great at taking pictures. Usually the light is too low, or there's a glare. My last phone had only 2.0mpx as opposed to the 3.2 on here, and it took better pictures. You have to hold it very still to get a clear picture, and it's best if you have a bright, sunny day, and are between the hours of 1:30 and 4:30 PM. The plastic over the lens on the phone's case is fragile and weak, and mine had big scratches (further diminishing picture quality) after about 3 months.
As a note on syncing functionality, it can be difficult (via USB to your computer) as it wants you to install VZW and LG software to update the phone. Then when you plug in, it says you need an update. You do the update, and it says you need more updates. Eventually you disable the program on your computer, because it will never finish with infinite updates. When it does complete the updates and you unplug the phone from your computer, the very next time you plug it in, it wants to install updates again. I just go to sync mode in the phone, and it will let you explore files via your PC and Windows Explorer, to add your music. I wouldn't bother trying to do it via the software.
-Compared to other simple phones, this one isn't bad!
-QWERTY keyboard is better for texting.
-Hinge allows the phone to stand up, so you can view the screen without holding it.
-No data fees! It's a simple phone with a keyboard!
-Front dial difficult, must look at the phone, no discernable button elevation.
-Text from front near impossible
-Screen on the outside prone to smears and dirt
-General fingerprints happen on the inside.
-Front scratches easily
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Amount Paid (US$): 150
Recommended for: Stylish Trendsetters - Hip and Trendy