Buyers interested in LG's 5350 for Sprint PCS service will most assuredly compare it to Samsung's similarly featured A500. While the LG isn't as light or as slick as that model, this attractive flip measures up to the Samsung in many ways and arguably offers a superior interface, button configuration, battery life, and price tag.
A pocket full of fun, this phone is fairly compact.
The external LCD is the standard monochrome variety and displays time, date, and caller-ID info, with a blue backlight for flair. All the main buttons on the phone are also lit in blue, except for the End button, which is conveniently illuminated in red.
We liked the dial-pad buttons; they're a decent size, slightly rubberized, and spaced far enough to minimize misdials. We also appreciated the four-way navigational button above the dial pad--it makes scrolling through menus easier--and the dedicated volume control on the side of the phone that doubles as a page up/down scroll button in wireless Web mode. Kudos to LG for avoiding Samsung's mistake with the OK/Enter button; on this model, it's where it should be: in the middle of the four-way navigational control. With its large animated icons, the interface is slightly slicker and cleaner than the A500's.
Like other PCS Vision-enabled phones, the 5350 lets you customize the look of your phone with downloadable graphics, pictures, and sounds, available as part of Sprint's next-generation data service. The wireless Web interface also looks jazzier, though it remains largely text-oriented. (See the Performance section for more on the wireless Web features.)
Keypad kudos to the 5350. It's easier to navigate the phone's menus than that found on Samsung's A500.
As noted, you can purchase downloadable screensavers and additional games--some are lame, while others are somewhat addictive--for a few dollars. Better yet, by using a special mode that turns off the cell radio, you can play them while you're on a flight.
Speaking of accessories, there's a wireless Web connection kit with USB that allows you to turn your 5350 into a modem. Also, the 5350 is compatible with Sprint's PCS Business Connection service, which allows you to receive corporate e-mail and view your calendar on your phone.
Heavy load: The 5350 comes with a not-so-portable desktop charger.
Thanks to Openwave's browser--which features Web-page-caching technology, among other enhancements--the 5350's wireless Web experience is slightly better than the A500's. But even though Sprint's 3G network is supposed to make surfing quicker, we didn't notice a significant speed boost. Simultaneously checking sports scores on this model and the WAP-enabled monochrome Sanyo SCP-6200, we didn't get the information any faster on the 5350. Sprint's Vision models currently limit you to XHTML sites, so you can't access the quicker-loading WAP sites. To be clear, the lag time isn't long, but you still have to wait about five seconds for the next screen to appear once you click a link.
As noted, battery life is good, particularly for a color-screen phone. We managed to hit the rated talk time of three hours and came in just a day short the phone's rated standby time of eight days. We should point out that the more you use the phone's backlight and wireless Web features, the bigger a hit the battery takes. Our result for talk time represents continuous use of the phone without the backlight on. Like other LG models, the 5350 comes with a power adapter and a charging cradle. We wish that LG would simply provide a travel charger that plugs directly into the phone.