LG Cosmos 2 (Verizon Wireless) review:

LG Cosmos 2 (Verizon Wireless)

Also included in the Cosmos 2 are quick access shortcuts to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. Before you get too excited however, these are not really dedicated apps--you won't have direct read access to your Twitter stream or Facebook wall on here; you'll still have to launch the browser to get to the mobile version of those sites. What the social network shortcuts on the phone do is provide a faster way to post updates. They're essentially pre-entered numbers that you can send updates to, and you'll actually have to set up your phone number on the services separately to do this. It's all a bit cumbersome, but it's at least the easiest way to send updates and photos with a simple messaging phone like this.

While the Cosmos did not have a music player, the Cosmos 2 does. It's pretty generic, with not much in the way of features, but it does the job. It arranges songs under artists, albums, and genres, and you're allowed to create and edit playlists on the fly. You can also set tracks to repeat or shuffle, and there's a Music Only mode that shuts off the phone's wireless frequencies so you can still listen to the player when you're on a plane. You can load up songs on a microSD card--the phone takes up to 32GB of additional memory.

The LG Cosmos 2 takes decent pictures for a low-megapixel camera.

The 1.3-megapixel camera is largely unchanged from before. Settings include three different resolutions, brightness, a self-timer, white balance presets, color effects, night mode, noise reduction, and three shutter sounds plus a silent option. Photo quality is OK for a low-quality camera like this. It takes acceptable photos due to the various noise reduction and night mode features, but colors are a little overcast, and low-light images do get rather pixelated.

We tested the LG Cosmos 2 in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless. Call quality was very impressive. We enjoyed full signal strength here in the CNET office, and we had no problems hearing our callers. They sounded loud and clear, with no distortion or crackling.

LG Cosmos 2 call quality sample Listen now:

Callers, too, said we sounded great. There was a tiny bit of hiss in the background, but it wasn't discernable for the most part. Most of the time, they said our voice sounded natural, warm, with plenty of volume. Speakerphone calls went well--there was a little bit more echo on our end, but that's not unusual.

As the LG Cosmos 2 only has 1xRTT and no 3G, Web speeds were predictably pokey. Loading the mobile CNET page took around 20 seconds, for example. The phone is clearly meant for occasional Web use at best.

The LG Cosmos 2 has a rated battery life of 6 hours and 10 minutes talk time and 34 days and 2 hours of standby time. According to FCC radiation tests, it has a digital SAR of 1.25 watts per kilogram.

The LG Cosmos 2 is not so much a sequel as it is a slightly improved clone. Indeed, the Cosmos 2 and the first Cosmos aren't that different design-wise and feature-wise. Still, we do like the Cosmos 2 as a beginner messaging phone. It has a great keypad and keyboard, a surprisingly sharp display, and a decent array of basic features. We also welcome the few improvements it does have, like a 3.5mm headset jack and a music player. The whole social networking angle is a bit dodgy, as the shortcuts are really just glorified text messages, but we appreciate the effort at least. Best of all is that the Cosmos 2 is free, as long as you sign for the two-year contract with Verizon Wireless and agree to the $79.99 discount.

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