In a world of complicated cell phones you always can count on Virgin Mobile to introduce a basic cell phone for making calls. We've seen it a few times before with handsets such as the Kyocera Marbl and the Kyocera Oystr, but this time around Virgin Mobile offers a new twist on the concept. LG makes its first appearance in the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) lineup with its Aloha LX140. The result is a user-friendly phone with voice dialing, but the ordinary design and varying call quality were somewhat distracting. We suggest you try the Marbl instead. The Aloha is just $34.99 with Virgin's prepaid service.
We're not sure about the Aloha moniker, as there's little about it to suggest the 50th state or even a welcoming spirit for that matter. The handset's design is so minimalist that it might even cause the late Mies van der Roe to wince. Clad in white and gray with clean lines and rounded edges, the Aloha is so devoid of outside features that even an external display and a volume rocker are absent. Normally, we're not fond of flip phones that have no external displays. While we realize that its lack of a screen helps account for the Aloha's low price, we still miss being able to check a caller's identity without opening the handset. That leaves just a headset jack on the left spine, a charger port on the Aloha's bottom end, and a small red light that shows through the front flap. It blinks to let you know the Aloha is on, but you can turn the light off if you prefer.
At 3.5x1.9x0.9 inches, the Aloha is average size for a flip phone, but at 2.7 ounces, it's quite light. It rested comfortably in the hand, but the hinge mechanism was a tad loose. Also, the plastic shell felt cheap.
The internal display is relatively small for the phone's size (1.5 inches; 128x128 pixels). It supports just eight lines of text, so you have to do a fair amount of scrolling though the simple menus (grid and list styles are also available). Also, the 65,000-color resolution means that graphics aren't very rich. But really, that's to be expected on a basic phone. You can change the backlight and the font size.
The keypad buttons have a standard design with a four-way toggle, a central OK button, two soft keys, talk and end/power buttons, and a back key. All the keys are easy to use; they're tactile and quite large. Additionally, the toggle doubles as a shortcut to the Web browser, the recent calls list, the messaging in-box, and the My Account feature. The backlit keypad buttons are tactile as well, and they are separated from each other.