LG and Alltel have long been friends, so it didn't surprise us when the two companies introduced a new handset. The LG AX275 offers basic to midrange features in a minimalist design. It won't wow cell phone geeks or slaves to fashion, but it should satisfy anyone looking for a simple phone for making calls and taking photos. The AX275 is a reasonable $139, but you can get it for $99 with service.
The AX275 isn't the most stylish phone, but it has an understated appeal just the same. Available in silver or pink (we reviewed the silver model), it has a basic rectangular shape with clean lines and a smooth finish. The angles are a bit sharp, but it's compact and lightweight (3.58 inches long by 1.81 inches wide by 0.78 inches thick and 2.82 ounces) and has a comfortable and solid feel in the hand. The external display is small (0.75 inch diagonally) for the phone's size, but it manages to cram in all the essential information, including the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID. The display is monochrome, however, so it won't show photo caller ID, and it doesn't work as a viewfinder for taking self-portraits with the camera.
The camera lens sits just above the display, while a speaker sits on the bottom of the front flap. A black rectangle surrounds the external display on both the pink and silver versions and adds a bit of color contrast. Other features on the exterior of the AX275 are few. A volume rocker, camera shutter, and covered headset jack sit on the left spine, while the charger port rests on the right spine.
The square internal display is also a bit small at just 1.5 inches diagonally (160x120 pixels), but it has a decent resolution, with support for 65,000 colors. Graphics weren't terribly sharp, but on the whole, the screen is perfectly fine for this caliber of phone. The simple menus are easy to understand and come in two styles. You can change the dialing font size and color, the brightness, and the backlight time.
The navigation controls are very spacious; in fact, they take up almost a third of the phone's lower flap. There's a square four-way toggle with central OK button, two soft keys, the Talk and End controls, and a back button. The latter key does double duty as a speakerphone control (nice), and the toggle works as a shortcut to four features. Just be aware that all navigation controls are flat with the surface of the phone, so dialing by feel can be difficult. They keypad buttons are flush as well, but they're quite large with clear definition between the individual keys. Also, they have large text and a bright backlighting.
The AX275 has a 500-contact phone book with room in each entry for five phone numbers, two e-mail addresses, and notes. You can save callers to groups and pair them with one of 31 polyphonic ringtones. You can assign a photo as well, but remember that it won't show up on the external display. Other features are pretty standard. There's a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, voice dialing, USB mass storage, a speakerphone, an alarm clock, a calendar, a tip calculator, a notepad, a world clock, a stopwatch, a unit converter, and a calculator. The AX275 has about 15MB of shared memory.