Dubbed the instant messaging phone, the LG F9100 for Cingular Wireless doesn't pretend to be anything more than what it actually is. But that's a good thing, for we're left with a handy communication device that hides a QWERTY keyboard in a unique slider design. There's no camera to confuse things, and higher-end features are decidedly absent. Yet if you're looking for a handset that excels at making calls and sending messages--remember, it is a cell phone--this is the mobile for you. On the downside, the overall styling could use some work, but this is definitely a case where function tops form. The F9100 is fairly priced at $199, but you should be able to find it for less with service. In general, the LG F9100 resembles the . On the design side, both handsets have a slightly bulky, rectangular shape that isn't stylish or streamlined. Measuring 4.1 by 1.8 by 0.9 inches and weighing a full 4.4 ounces, the F9100, as with the A630, fits snugly in most pockets, but it is solidly built and comfortable to hold while talking.
Yet the most prominent similarity between the two mobiles is that both hide full QWERTY keyboards, making them cool messaging machines. While the A630 opens like a book to reveal its keyboard, the F9100 instead hides its version behind the front face, which slides open lengthwise. We approve of this arrangement completely (see below). Also, it should be noted that upon sliding the phone open, the 1.75-inch-diagonal, 65,000-color screen switches to a landscape orientation and automatically brings up the IM menu.
The display itself is vivid, bright, and ideal for browsing through the simple but useful menus as well as for typing messages. Just be aware that it's hard to see in direct light. You can change the backlighting, but we are dismayed that you can't change the font size, something we consider necessary for this type of phone. Below the display are the navigation controls, which consist of a five-way joystick, two soft keys, the traditional Talk and End buttons, and a Clear key. Though they are easy to understand, we aren't in love with their design. The joystick and the Clear button are much too small, and the other controls are set flush with the surface of the phone. It does, however, have shortcuts to the media folder, the address book, text messaging, and instant messaging. The latter two are a bit of a curiosity. While you can type messages in the traditional manner by using the keypad with the phone closed, why would you want to?