The LG F7200 marks Cingular's first foray into push-to-talk (PTT) technology, making it the first phone from a GSM network to feature such a service. Long the domain of Nextel and the CDMA carriers, PTT has increased in popularity among consumers lately, and Cingular has clearly recognized that potential with this user-friendly phone. Unlike a lot of PTT phones that are bulky and unattractive, the LG F7200 has a decent design, thanks to its smooth slider form factor. Even so, the lack of features on the F7200 makes this a rather basic offering, most likely targeted at consumers who just want a good-looking PTT phone without extras. The phone costs $69.99, but Cingular is offering a buy-one-get-one-free deal if you opt for the PTT service. Compared to most PTT phones, the LG F7200 is downright fashionable. Its smooth rounded corners, curved design, silver and blue-gray hues, and grilled mic on the front add up to a cute yet space-age look. At 4.06 by 1.97 by 1.02 inches and 4.6 ounces, the F7200 is clearly not the smallest phone out there, but it's compact enough to slip in a small handbag, and its chunky form feels solid in the hand. The LG F7200 has a slide-up form factor, meaning you have to slide the phone's front face upward to reveal the keypad. A little effort is required, but the slider pops open with a very satisfying springy action. Turn the phone on its left spine and you'll note the dedicated PTT button and a volume rocker, while its right spine is home to a dedicated speakerphone button and a headset jack.
The large 1.8-inch display is one of the first things you notice on the phone, but we're disappointed that it supports only a 65,000-color palette with 128x160-pixel resolution. As expected, it displays signal and battery strength, date, time, caller ID (where available), and your choice of wallpaper. The backlight time is adjustable up to 3 minutes, but you can't alter the contrast, brightness, and font size on the display.
Underneath the display, the phone's controls are laid out in a curve; the two soft keys, Talk and End buttons, and the Cancel key are positioned on a silvery curved border, whereas the four-way navigation toggle and middle confirmation key is displayed in an eyelike shape in the center. This results in a very sleek look, but we didn't find it to be the most functional. The buttons were a little small and narrow, and they might be a problem for larger hands. Also, the two soft keys are located too far to the sides, which led to us to try to press nonexistent buttons underneath the screen. The navigation toggle doubles as shortcuts to text messaging, instant messaging, the address book, and the My Media folder, whereas the middle confirmation key serves as a shortcut for Cingular's Media Net portal. Slide the phone open and you'll be presented with a smooth, slightly domed keypad that is textured enough so that you can dial by feel. The asterisk acts as a vibrate-mode toggle, whereas the pound sign doubles as a voice-tag button.Other than the obvious PTT function, the LG F7200 doesn't have many other features aside from the basics. The phone comes with a 255-entry address book that stores up to three phone numbers, an e-mail address, and notes for each contact. You can assign contacts to one of seven predefined groups: Family, VIP, Friends, Colleague, Group 1, Group 2, and Others. Each group can be assigned a personalized ring tone and a group icon. Buried in the My Media menu is the Tools submenu that lists all the organizer features: alarm clock, calendar, voice memo, calculator, notepad, world clock, and unit converter. Both text and multimedia messaging are enabled, and the F7200 supports four instant-messaging networks: AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, ICQ, and Cingular's own IM service. As is common with most Cingular phones, the F7200 provides access to Media Net, Cingular's mobile Internet portal that provides access to a WAP 2.0 browser as well as various Internet services such as news, weather, and e-mail. There's a handy speakerphone that is supereasy to use, thanks to the dedicated button on the side, although you can activate it only during a phone call. The F7200 supports numerous other call features: caller ID, conference calls, voice dialing, speed dialing, call waiting, and call forwarding.
The main feature of this phone, of course, is the PTT functionality. There's a separate list for PTT contacts, but since Cingular uses the same number for both regular phone calls and PTT calls, you can easily copy contacts to and from the address book. Before you can connect to someone using PTT, you have to send out a PTT invitation, which the other person can accept or reject. Cingular also offers Quick Group Calling, allowing you to place a PTT call to a group of people that you can assign on your phone. You can easily tell who on your contacts list is available by the icons next to the name. There are also icons for Do Not Disturb, Invitation In Progress, and Silent/Vibrate mode. You have to hold the PTT key down while you talk, and you should make sure not to speak until after you hear a tone. Any time during a PTT call, the call originator can convert the call to cellular by going to Options and selecting Convert to Cellular; callers need not press the PTT button to talk. Other PTT options include a Call Me Alert, which can be sent to any of your PTT contacts; voice messages; call waiting; and contact alerts, which let you know if one of your contacts is available.