Despite the many advanced feature phones out there, there's definitely still a market for simpler phones without too many bells and whistles. Take the LG LX290 from Sprint, for example, which doesn't even have 3G or a music player. It does, however, offer GPS with turn-by-turn directions, plenty of e-mail options, Bluetooth, and a no-frills 1.3-megapixel camera. We also like its smart slider design and the four dedicated shortcut keys on the number keypad. So if you want a fairly simple phone with a good number of features, the LX290 might be for you. The LG LX290 is quite affordable, as well, for only $29.99 after a two-year service agreement and a mail-in rebate.
The LG LX290 has a simple yet attractive slider design. It measures 4.09 inches long by 1.94 inches wide by 0.63 inch thick, and it is wrapped in a smooth and matte black chassis with rounded corners all around. The phone is lightweight at 3.6 ounces and feels comfortable when held in the hand and when held up to the ear. The slider mechanism feels solid; it opens and closes with a reassuring "click" even after repeated use.
We like the 2.17-inch display on the front. It has support for 262,000 colors and 240x320-pixel resolution, which results in colorful images and sharp legible text. You can adjust the screen's backlight time, the menu style, and the font size for messages, the browser, the notepad, and the dialing digits.
Underneath the display is the navigation array, which consists of two soft keys, a round navigation toggle with a middle confirmation key, the Talk and End/Power keys, and the Back key. The toggle doubles as shortcuts to four user-defined functions. The navigation keys are somewhat flat to the phone's surface, but they have a nice give when pushed. On the left spine are the headset jack, the volume rocker, and the charger jack. The right spine is home to a dedicated camera key and a key that brings up the recent call history with a short press and the voice command controls with a longer press. On the back is the camera lens, but there is no flash or self-portrait mirror, which is a disappointment.
When you slide the phone up, you'll reveal a number keypad plus four unique shortcut keys at the very top. These shortcut keys lead directly to the text messaging menu, your e-mail in-box, the alarm clock, and the calendar. Though these functions are easy to get to within the menu, we think it's nice to have quick access to these frequently used features. All of the keys are well spaced and are in the form of raised bumps, making it easy to dial by feel.
The LG LX290 has a 600-entry phone book, and each entry has space for seven phone numbers, two e-mail addresses, a memo, a Web address, an instant-messenger ID, a street address, a birthday, job title, and company name. You can even set the contact to be hidden in your phone book (by selecting Secret or No Secret). You can also save the entry to a caller group, pair it with a photo for caller ID, one of 34 polyphonic ringtones, or one of four vibration types.
Other basic features include text and multimedia messaging, a speakerphone, a vibrate mode, an alarm clock, a calendar, a world clock, a calculator, a notepad, and a unit converter. The LX290 also has a wireless Web browser, USB syncing, Bluetooth, voice control, GPS with support for Sprint Navigation and Sprint Family Locator, and instant messaging (AIM, Windows Live, and Yahoo). You also have a variety of e-mail options, from online providers like AOL Mail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, and Gmail, to your own POP or IMAP account.