The CU515's 1.3-megapixal camera takes pictures in four resolutions (1,280x960, 640x480, 320x240, and 160x120), and three quality settings (super fine, fine, and normal). Other features options include a self timer, brightness and white balance settings, a self timer, three color effects, and three shutter tones (plus a silent option). There's also an 8x zoom and a multishot mode, though neither is available in the highest resolution. When finished with your photos, you can use the integrated photo-editing tool to resize, crop, and rotate your images or change the color effect. The camcorder shoots clips in a 176x144 resolution with sound. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at 45 seconds; otherwise you can shoot for as long as the available memory permits. The CU515 offers 55MB of internal memory. That's a decent amount, but we'd recommend investing in a microSD card slot for good measure. The CU515 can handle cards up to 4GB. Photo quality wasn't great. Our images were blurry and had a yellow tint.
As a 3.5G HSDPA device, the CU515 supports the full range of AT&T broadband multimedia applications. Cellular Video brings a wide variety of streaming video clips from such channels as NBC, Comedy Central, ESPN, The Weather Channel, VH1, and CNN. There's a special channel for kids as well, with programming from The Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, The Cartoon Network and Muppets Mobile. Premium entertainment is offered from HBO Mobile and Music Choice for an extra charge. For a full analysis of the offerings see our Cellular Video review. MobiTV applications are integrated as well. The handset also supports AT&T's Video Share application, which allows you to send live or recorded videos to friends while you're on a call (provided they also have a Video Share phone).
If you're more interested in listening to tunes, the CU515 also supports the AT&T Music application. The handset offers other music services including support for XM Radio Mobile, a Music ID application, a Billboard Mobile channel, and a community section with access to fan sites. The music player interface is like that on other AT&T music phones; the interface is basic and features are limited to shuffle and repeat modes, playlists, and an airplane mode.
You can personalize the CU515 with a variety of wallpapers, calendar styles, and color themes. If you'd like more choices you can download additional options and ringtones via the AP 2.0 wireless Web browser. The CU515 comes with demo versions of five games: Brain Challenge, Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man, Tetris, Tower Bloxx, and World Poker Tour.
We tested the quadband, dual-mode (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; GPRS; EDGE) LG CU515 world phone in San Francisco using AT&T service. Call quality was generally good during our test period. We had no trouble getting a signal, and the connection remained free of static or interference. During conversations voices sounded natural even if there was a very slight hissing sound at times. The volume level was decent as well though some users might find it a little soft. Users with hearing impairments way want to give the phone a test drive first.
On their end callers said we sounded good. They could tell we were using a cell phone, but they didn't have problems understanding us, even when we were in noisy environments. The only complaint was that the sound cut out for a second or two at times. That could be because of their phones, but we heard it from more than one person. On the other hand, we didn't have issues with automated calling systems. Speakerphone calls were quite good. We enjoyed enough volume, and we could hear callers clearly, even though the phone's speaker faces backwards. Callers also said they were satisfied as long as we spoke close to the phone and we didn't use it outside.
The CU515 supports the 850 and 1900 UMTS/HSSDPA bands so our connection remained strong as long as we stayed within San Francisco proper. Streaming video quality was somewhat hit or miss, however. Clips took about 10 seconds to download, which isn't bad, but browsing through the Cellualr Videos menus seemed a tad pokey. Individual clips were variable; while some were smooth and crisp, others had noticeable pixelation and jerky movements. Also, when we tried to watch a preview of the The Mist, we received a message that said that because of popular demand, the clip was unavailable at the moment. That's a first for Cellular Video. That said, sound quality for the videos was decent. Voices matched the speakers' mouths and the speakers provided good output. Sound quality for the music player was satisfactory, as well, but headphones will provide the best experience.
The CU515 has a rated battery life of 3.5 hours of talk time and 16 days of standby time. Promised talk time is rather low for a GSM phone. According to FCC radiation tests, the CU515 has a digital digital SAR rating of 1.3 watts per kilogram.