The LG Dare has just launched with Verizon Wireless and will be available via Verizon's online store starting tomorrow. We'll admit that we were prepared to dismiss the Dare as yet another iPhone clone when we first read about it a couple of weeks ago, but we recently had some hands-on time with one, and we have to say the Dare, well, dares to be different (I know, the pun is horrendous, but it needed to be said). Not only does it come with a whopping 3.2-megapixel camera with flash, it has light exposure control, auto focus, and even face detection and noise reduction. There's even a "Smartpic" technology that will compensate for face color and low light. The built-in camcorder is able to record up to 640x480 video with 120fps and play it back with 15 fps slow motion, which is a first in the U.S.
Other stand-out features include a full HTML browser, a proximity sensor that automatically turns off while in a call (similar to the one on the iPhone), a light sensor that adjusts LCD brightness automatically, plus an accelerometer that rotates the screen to landscape mode in certain applications (the browser and text message interface rotates up to 90 degrees anticlockwise, for example). You also get a unique "drawing pad" feature that lets you draw a map or picture with your finger. You can then send this image over to your friend if you want via MMS. Another nice feature is the ability to handwrite your message similar to Graffiti. Even though the Dare doesn't have a stylus, you can use your finger to draw out letters and characters, and it has a pretty smart handwriting recognition that will recognize them. As for text messaging, you can either tap em out in T9 mode, via a virtual QWERTY keyboard, or via the aforementioned handwriting method.
Last but not least, the Dare features a unique menu interface. You have the option of selecting a "scattered" layout which lets you drag and drop icons to new positions. Why you would do this instead of relying on the standard square grid is a little strange, but I did think it was rather fun. From the Dare's home screen, you can get single touch access to a shortcuts menu, plus you get to drag and drop certain shortcut icons directly to the home screen for easy access to your favorite applications. You also get haptic or tactile feedback when using the touch screen. The Dare also lets you pick up to 9 favorite contacts, which you can assign pictures to, and place instantly accessible from the home screen. Other features include haptic feedback, EV-DO Rev. A, Verizon's stable of broadband services, and more.
As you can see, there's a lot to like about the Dare, and we haven't even begun to scratch the surface. We'll give you a more complete overview once we receive a review unit. The Dare will be available for $199.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and a two-year service agreement, which we think is very competitive, especially in light of the iPhone pricing. The Dare will be available in Verizon Wireless retail stores in July 3rd.