Underneath the display is the navigation array, which consists of two soft keys, a square toggle with middle Menu/OK key, a dedicated speakerphone key, a Back key, and the Talk and End/Power keys. Underneath that is a full QWERTY keyboard, complete with a dedicated Text messaging key. The QWERTY keyboard is one of the best we've ever tried on a messaging phone. The keys are well-spaced, and each key has a bubblelike texture that is raised above the surface of the phone. The navigation keys are also roomy and easy to press.
The LG Lotus is not just a messaging phone-- it also comes with a host of multimedia and high-end features. But before we get to that, let's start with the basics. The Lotus has a 600-contact phone book, with room in each entry for six phone numbers, two e-mail addresses, an instant-messenger handle, a Web address, and notes. You can save contacts to groups, and pair them with a photo, any of 35 polyphonic ringtones, and any of four vibrations for caller ID. Other essentials include text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calculator, a scheduler, a voice memo recorder, a notepad, and a world clock. More advanced users will like the USB mode for PC syncing, voice command, instant messaging, e-mail, stereo Bluetooth, a mobile Web browser, and a document viewer. It also has A-GPS, which supports the Sprint Navigation and Sprint Family Locator services.
The Lotus comes equipped with EV-DO, allowing it access to Sprint's Power Vision. This includes Sprint TV for live on-demand television shows, Sprint Movies for on-demand movies, and Sprint Radio for streaming radio from more than 150 stations. Of course, as a multimedia phone, the Lotus also has access to the Sprint Music Store for wireless music downloads.
Speaking of music, the Lotus's music player is simple, but functional. You can either purchase songs over the air like we mentioned or transfer songs via USB. The player interface is pretty generic, with options for repeat, shuffle, and creating and editing playlists. You can send the music player to the background while doing other things like texting. The Lotus comes with 80MB of built-in memory, and if that's not enough, the microSD-card slot allows for additional storage.
The Lotus has a 2.0-megapixel camera, which can take pictures in four resolutions (1,600x1200, 1,280x960, 640x480, and 320x240), and three quality settings. Other camera options include brightness, white balance, spot metering, a night mode, five color tones, a self-timer, multishot, fun frames, a 4x zoom, four shutter sounds, plus a silent option. The built-in camcorder has editing options similar to that on the still camera. We liked the photo quality; images looked clear and sharp, but we did notice the colors appeared darker than usual.
You can personalize the Lotus in a number of ways. You can select different kinds of graphics for wallpaper and screensavers, different sounds for ringtones and alerts, and full games and applications as well. The Lotus comes with three games: Guitar Hero III, a demo version of JewelQuest2, and Space Monkey. It also comes with four applications: Google Maps, Loopt, NASCAR Sprint cup Mobile, and Social Zone. You can download more of these personalization options via the Sprint browser.
We tested the LG Lotus in San Francisco on Sprint's network. We were very impressed with the call quality overall. Callers sounded crisp and clear, without a lot of static. Speakerphone calls were quite good as well, albeit on the tinnier side. On their end, callers said we sounded loud and clear as well, though the voices sounded rather robotic, and they could still tell we were on a cell phone. Automated-calling systems recognized our voices just fine in a quiet room. Bluetooth calls were successful.
Music quality was decent. Bass was a little weak, but the melody and vocals sounded alright. We would recommend using a headset for better audio quality. EV-DO speeds were great. Streaming video from Sprint's PowerVision had no buffering issues. Video quality is similar to other Sprint TV phones. While typing out text messages, we found that text sometimes lagged behind our typing. This isn't a huge issue, but when it happened, we thought it was rather annoying.
The Lotus has a rated battery life of 5.6 hours talk time. Our tests reveal a talk time of 3 hours and 36 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Lotus has a digital SAR rating of 1.360 watts per kilogram.