Product: LG enV for Verizon
Price: $149.99 (with a 2 year contract and $50 mail in rebate)
Pros: QWERTY keyboard, speakerphone quality, 2.0 megapixel camera, wireless email, EVDO, flip-up design, price, battery life, instant messenger and Bluetooth 2.0.
Cons: Thick body, lack of mobile web browser, very small exterior screen and smaller than preferred interior screen.
Overall: The enV is a great option for teens and young professionals who are looking to stay in touch via email and instant messenger and are ready to move beyond a standard handset but don’t have the corporate account to pay for a Palm/Blackberrry/Windows Mobile Smartphone (and just aren’t feeling the Sidekick).
The LG enV (VX9900) for Verizon Wireless is the successor to the LG VX9800. It improves on its older brother, keeping and improving on many of the features as well as adding a bunch of new abilities.
Design – 6.5 – Hands down, the handset is large and clunky. Once we get that off our backs, we can re-look at the handset and see that it is actually smaller than the VX9800 but not by far. Its lines have improved and form factor feels sleeker, making it more comfortable to use but due to the vertical flip-open design, the phone is thick. Talking specs, the enV is 4.64×2.08×0.78 inches compared to the 9800’s 4.57×1.97×1.0 inches. Thankfully it is significantly lighter at 4.6 ounces, compared to 5.19 ounces.
The external keypad has a bright backlight but is very cramped. As the handset decreased in size, the display did as well, to a mere 1.25” diagonal. There is a 4-way keypad with a center OK button both on the exterior and interior of the enV as well as Talk, End, and two soft keys. The interior has a 2.25” LCD screen with stereo speakers on each side. The interior full-QWERTY keypad is spacious, and it is great that there is a dedicated email button, though I would have liked the keys to be raised slightly higher. The space bar is in a weird location but we were able to catch on quickly.
With the camera sitting on the back of the phone, it actually holds and feels like a real camera when taking pictures, a great improvement to most camera phones out there. LG has placed both a shutter control top (when holding it like a camera) as well as converted the volume buttons to zoom controls. To keep a natural feeling, you can use the external display as your viewfinder but the field is hard to see on the small screen. Once you pop open the camera to use the internal screen, the ergonomics aren’t as great but at least you can see what you are taking pictures of. Don’t fret about running out of space as there is a microSD card slot on phone.
Features – 7.5 – The address book hold 1,000 entries with six phone numbers, two e-mail addresses, notes, a photo, and one of 18 ring tones for each contact. If you are the type that prefers not to stop meetings with your phone ringing, you will be very impressed with the strong vibrate mode. Other features are text and multimedia messaging, voice commands and dialing, instant messaging, calendar, alarm clock, world clock, notepad, tip calculator, and voice memos. On the connectivity front there is EVDO, Verizon’s V-Cast store, VZ Navigator (a rather cool feature that we hope to cover in a standalone review) and Bluetooth 1.2 (which includes stereo sound).
Performance – 7 – The call quality on the phone was on par with most Verizon phones we use. The speakers were loud, great for speakerphone and sharing music with your friends, but the sound quality was sub-par given the two large drivers.
Email and instant messaging services were the main focuses of this test. Once we got our Wireless Sync up and running, the software was rather flawless. Emails were downloaded quickly and my inbox stayed up to date. You have the option of setting the phone to automatically download your email via timed intervals or on manual syncs only. The enV will also be happy to alert you when your new messages arrive. I had no problem typing on the keypad, even for longer emails, but the 2.25” screen was smaller than I would have liked. Very little fits on the screen before sentences wrap when reading and composing mail.
On the IM front, the handset is loaded with AIM, Yahoo Messenger, and MSN. Once logged in, your application stays open even if you leave the screen. While we didn’t mind this, you need to realize/remember that you are still logged in with people emailing you even when you put the handset down to watch the game (you can put on an away message but it is easy to forget). It is great using a QWERTY keypad for messages; I could never go back to mobile IM without it.
The LG enV (VX9800) has a talk time battery life of 4 hours and 30 minutes and a standby time of 19 days according to LG.