LG CU400 (AT&T) review: LG CU400 (AT&T)

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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The LG CU400 is an attractive 3G/UMTS-capable phone with a great-looking display and excellent sound quality. It also has a camera, a camcorder, push-to-talk features, quad-band capabilities, as well as access to Cingular Video, streaming music, and other 3G content.

The Bad The LG CU400's VGA camera is disappointing, and it's difficult to take self-portraits.

The Bottom Line The LG CU400 is a speedy and attractive cell phone with access to high-speed 3G content such as Cingular Video plus access to cool mobile applications like XM Radio Mobile and MySpace Mobile. While we liked its push-to-talk features and its quad-band capabilities, we were ultimately disappointed with the poor quality of its VGA camera and the lack of a dedicated audio player.

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8.0 Overall

The LG CU400 can be considered a low-budget successor to the LG CU500, which is one of Cingular's first HSDPA phones to support Cingular Video. Although it's slightly slower with UMTS-level speeds, the CU400 offers the same access to Cingular Video, streaming music, mobile radio, and other 3G content. Not only that, the LG CU400 is also the first ever 3G-capable phone by Cingular to offer push-to-talk (PTT) capabilities. However, its VGA camera and lack of a dedicated audio player still make the CU500 the more attractive option if you are looking for a true multimedia phone. The LG CU400 is available for $229.99 at retail and for $29.99 with a two-year contract.

The LG CU400 is an attractive phone.

One of the first things we noticed about the LG CU400 is the attractive design. It has a sleek and curved body with a lovely matte black finish that feels quite soft to the touch. Its compact and lightweight design (3.36 inches by 1.89 inches by 0.90 inch; 3.27 ounces) makes it feel that much more comfortable in the hand and when cradled next to the face. On the front is an external screen framed in glossy black. Above the external screen is the camera lens. The screen, while monochrome, displays all the necessary information such as date and time, battery and signal strength, as well as caller ID. However, you can't use it as a self-portrait viewfinder, and there is no self-portrait mirror next to the camera, so you'll have a hard time trying to take self-portraits. On the left spine are the headset jack, the volume rocker, and a dedicated PTT key, while the right spine is home to the dedicated camera button. On top of the device is the speakerphone activation key, as well as a stubby antenna.

The LG CU400 comes with a VGA camera.

Flip the phone open and you'll note the 2-inch, 65,000-color display. The low 176x220 pixel resolution was a bit disappointing, and we would've preferred a 262,000-color screen. That said, it did look crisper than most other 65,000-color displays we've seen. You can adjust the screen's backlight time, the size and color of the dialing fonts, plus the way the date and time are displayed. Below the display are two soft keys; a four-way navigation toggle that doubles as shortcuts to messaging, instant messaging, the contacts list, and the MyStuff menu; a middle OK key that doubles as a shortcut for the browser; a dedicated Cingular Video key; a dedicated Task Menu shortcut key; the Send and End keys; and the Clear/Back key. While all the keys, including the alphanumeric dialpad, were a little slippery, they were sufficiently raised above the surface so that we could dial by feel.

Though its multimedia features are not as robust as the CU500's, the LG CU400 still has quite a lot to offer feature-wise. The CU400 comes with a 500-entry address book, and each entry is capable of holding up to five numbers, two e-mail addresses, and a memo. Each entry can also be assigned a caller group, one of 10 MP3 ring tones, and a photo for caller ID. Other basic features include a vibrate or silent mode, a flight mode, a speakerphone, a voice memo recorder, Bluetooth, text and multimedia messaging, mobile e-mail (supports Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, and AOL Mail), instant messaging (AOL, MSN, and Yahoo), a wireless Web browser (Cingular calls its Media Net), an alarm clock, a calendar, a notepad, a calculator, a tip calculator, a world clock, a tasks list, a stop watch, a unit converter, a date finder, and a "D-day counter" that counts down to a specific date. As was mentioned earlier, the CU400 is fully compatible with Cingular's PTT network and can hold up to 99 PTT contacts and 30 PTT groups. You can instantly speak with up to 30 people. The CU400 is also a quad-band GSM phone and can be used anywhere in the world.

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