LG 840G - Black (TracFone) Cellular Phone Reviews
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LG 840G - Black (TracFone) Cellular Phone

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A Feature Phone that Thinks it's a Smartphone

Feb 20, 2014 (Updated Feb 21, 2014)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

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Pros:Very capable feature phone with touchscreen. Bluetooth and wireless support. Easy to use. SD card.

Cons:Full keyboard not always available. Some storage limits. No mass contacts list import/export function.

The Bottom Line:

A great feature phone for someone who likes how a smartphone works but does not wish the burden of the cost or heavy data plan of a smartphone.

My primary use for this phone will be as a personal information manager (PIM) and music player... that makes phone calls. This is the approach that I will be taking in this review.

At first sight, the LG 840G touch-screen cellular phone looks and acts like an Android smart phone. It has three home screens that contain favorite app icons, widgets, and favorite contacts. A status bar at the top gives you vital information such as network strength, call status, wifi, time, etc. At the bottom of the screen you will find a dock with four fixed icons to make a call, access your contacts, compose a text message, and access all applications.

There are three backlit touch buttons at the bottom for Send, Back, and End functions. You can accidentally touch one of these buttons if you swipe your finger down the touchscreen too far. Physical buttons are a power/sleep button at the top right edge, and a volume rocker button on the left edge.

This is not a smart phone, but a very capable feature phone. All of the "Apps" are built-in. You can't add or remove Apps. The three home screens are dedicated to their separate functions, and the widgets available are also fixed in number and function. You can select which items to display on these screens from those available. Unlike some less well-designed feature phones, you can find multiple ways to do multiple things and pick the methods you prefer, which makes the phone very easy to use.

Built-in Apps are generous and should cover most of your needs. The calendar is very capable and includes features found in business PIM software such as MS Outlook (and which are missing from the stock Android calendar). A basic notepad and task manager are available as well. The Contacts App can store a lot of information about a person, however it can't import of export full contact lists through the SD card. It does support VCF files.

Other Apps include a calculator (with scientific functions available), tip calculator, unit converter, alarm clock, stopwatch, social media (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace), and an E-mail client. Media Apps include a camera, music player, video camera, and a voice recorder. Utility Apps manage various settings, and there is a full File Manager App that allows you to access and manage non-system files and folders. Some Apps are hidden, such as the World Clock which can be accessed through the World Clock widget.

It is possible to add Java MIDP (.jar) Apps to the phone, but you're on your own to find these and see if they work (such as Opera Mini, for example). Java Apps live under the "Games & Apps" App in the phone. You can install them by downloading them directly through the web browser (when connected through WiFi), or by copying them to the SD card through USB.

The phone itself is fairly compact, but thicker and heavier than the more expensive phones out there. It feels solid and has a rounded, textured back that makes it comfortable to grip without feeling like it will slip out of your hands. It's cleverly constructed to look like it's made of metal and glass, but it is really all plastic (but not "cheap" plastic). The back shell lifts off by inserting your fingernail into the micro USB slot at the bottom and gently pulling the cover off.

Hardware uses standard, proven technology to keep costs down while retaining quality. The touch screen is very responsive, but only supports single-touch functions (no multitouch pinch-to-zoom, for example). The screen is a standard-resolution 320x480, 150 DPI, 2x3.5" TFT backlit LCD. It is basically a small screen enlarged to support touch; not a sharp display. The graphics and text are well-rendered and the brightness is excellent, but the viewing angle is fairly narrow. Photos are a bit fuzzy when viewed on this display. The CPU is beefy enough to make the phone very quick and responsive. There is a micro SD slot available once you remove the back cover. It ships with a 2GB card, but you will need something larger if you plan to use the media features. A micro USB slot at the bottom provides charging functions as well as unlimited mass storage access to the SD card.

Unlike a smartphone, there is no rotation sensor, ambient light sensor, or other fancy sensors that would allow the phone to adjust to its environment. You must adjust the brightness manually, and I find that the "20%" setting works well in most situations. The phone will automatically switch to landscape (sideways) mode for certain operations such as the camera and typing using the full touch keyboard. Some may find the fact that it doesn't auto-rotate when turning the display rather refreshing.

Bluetooth capabilities include a generous number of profiles, including high-quality stereo audio, remote control, and file send/receive. When connecting a stereo audio device, wait for the second connection notification to appear before hitting play, otherwise it will use the low-quality audio profile that always connects first. The signal is strong and you can easily wander around. The phone can send and receive contacts one-at-a-time in standard VCF format, as well as photos.

WiFi stores multiple locations and will take the place of the cellular data connection for the web browser. Just make sure that the WiFi icon is displayed on the status bar before opening the browser, or you will use up your data service. I find that I have to manually connect the WiFi every time I enter a hotspot, but the credentials are stored and only have to be entered once.

The web browser is a basic WAP browser that will ask web sites for their mobile version. Facebook and GMail work well, for example. Other web sites may not render well. This is the fastest WAP browser that I have used on a feature phone, yet. You will be restricted to the wireless provider's "walled garden" of canned sites unless you connect to WiFi. You can save favorite sites without restriction. You can't put the phone to sleep when the browser is active, probably because it eats data units while open and connected through the cellular data service.

There are some limits to how much information the phone can support. You can have up to 1,000 contacts, 500 text messages, 200 calendar events, 60 tasks, and 30 notes.  The media player can access up to 2,000 MP3 files (which some may find limiting).

The music player is very functional, but don't expect iPod or Zune features or performance. You will need a micro SD card to take full advantage of this feature (16GB for 2,000 standard-quality MP3 files with room for photos). When you change the contents of the SD card, it can take a few seconds to a several minutes to update its database from the MP3 metadata tags when you launch the music player, depending on how much was changed. It can be slow to navigate if you have a lot of music, and the drop-down A-Z menu on the side will "click through" as if it isn't there until it finishes populating the list. It takes some getting used to. The device supports AAC (M4A) files, but the music player will not index these, only MP3 files. You can play MP4 files through the separate Audio App or File Manager App. The phone supports Bluetooth A/V remote commands, but not wired headset buttons.

Podcast support is nonexistent. You will need a third-party podcast manager that supports mass storage, such as the free gPodder. Just be aware of the 2,000 file limit of the device. I recommend re-tagging the MP3 files with the genre, "Podcast," so that you can find your files. It will show multiple menu levels indexed first by genre, author, album, then title, for example. Personally, I re-tag the author to the name of the podcast to make them easy to find.

The camera has a lot of features, but it is only 2 megapixels (1920x960) and has no flash. This is great for quick snapshots, but it is not for the serious photographer. You can launch the camera and take a photo very quickly without any lag, which is a plus. There is a video recorder that will take 320x160 (QVGA) videos suitable for messaging or quick sharing. Multiple sharing options allow you to send photos and videos through text, e-mail, or bluetooth. With an SD card, you can access and manage your photos through USB. The phone can handle higher-resolution JPEG files, but larger ones (such as 8 megapixel) will display a "not compatible" message.

The File Manager opens up some interesting options. You can store and view text files (.txt) on the SD card, but you can't edit them on the phone. Audio files in AAC (M4A) format won't be indexed by the music player, but can be played from the File Manager or Audio App. You can also choose to play music, view photos, or play videos from the File Manager instead of the dedicated Apps. Be aware that you can't put the phone to sleep using the sleep button when you do this, which is kind of strange. However, the phone will go to sleep by itself unless you are playing a video file.

Oh, yes, it also makes phone calls. You can make calls through the keypad, Contacts App, or recent calls list, accessible simply by tapping the Send button. The earpiece is very clear, and doubles as a speakerphone, so be careful that the speakerphone is off before putting it to your ear. The speaker is tinny, of course, but very clear. Wired headsets, Bluetooth devices, and hearing aids are supported.

Text input is done through an onscreen T9 keypad by default, which can be rather awkward. The options available vary per App, which seems inconsistent. Most often you have options between full keyboard input in landscape mode, T9 predictive input through a 3x4 keypad, or multiple-press input though the 3x4 keypad. Sometimes you have to switch to the full keyboard every time you access a function, which can be a little annoying.

The phone comes with a brief introduction guide and a charger. You will need to supply your own standard micro USB cable. The manual is available for download from LG's web site. It covers everything at a basic level, but you will have to explore the phone's features yourself to discover the details.

This phone is a great feature phone for someone who likes how a smartphone works but does not wish the burden of the cost or heavy data plan of a real smartphone. It looks just like an Android device, so you don't have to worry about blending in when you put it down on the conference table.

Recommend this product? Yes

Amount Paid (US$): 40
Recommended for: Professionals On-the-Go - Internet and Email is a Must!

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