LG Octane (Verizon Wireless) review:

LG Octane (Verizon Wireless)

The LG Octane has a 1,000-entry phone book with room in each entry for five numbers, two e-mail addresses, an IM screen name, a street address, and notes. You can organize the contacts into groups, or pair them with a photo for caller ID, or one of 30 polyphonic ringtones. Basic features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, voice commands and dialing, a calendar, an alarm clock, a calculator, a tip calculator, a to-do list, a stopwatch, a world clock, and a notepad.

Of course, as the Octane is a messaging phone, it offers text and multimedia messaging with threaded messaging support. The Octane also supports Mobile IM, which supports AIM, Windows Live, and Yahoo services. The Octane has mobile e-mail as well, which lets you have access to e-mail services from Yahoo, Windows Live Hotmail, Gmail, AOL Mail, Verizon.net, and your own POP3 account. You can also get corporate e-mail via Microsoft Exchange, provided your company supports Outlook Web Access. Note that mobile e-mail isn't free; it costs around $9.99 a month. The Octane is compatible with Skype Mobile, Backup Assistant, and Mobile Broadband Connect. The latter lets you use the phone as a modem for around $20 for 2GB a month.

Other features of the phone include USB mass storage, visual voice mail, a document viewer that can read Microsoft files plus PDFs and plain text documents, Bing search, and GPS with VZ Navigator. Supported Bluetooth profiles include A2DP stereo, dial-up networking, basic printing, phonebook access, object push for vCard and vCalendar, and file transfer. If you're a fan of social networking, Verizon has also included its SocialBeat app that will house all your major social network accounts and popular news feeds into one interface.

We're happy to see that the LG Octane has a full HTML browser. You get to it via a Web portal that provides quick access to other sites such as Bing, ESPN, WeatherBug, Reuters, Fandango, Fox News, Verizon's ringtone store, and your Verizon account profile. From there you simply use it like a regular browser--it has a full screen view, and you can zoom in and out of Web pages, manage bookmarks, subscribe to RSS feeds, and more. We're glad that, unlike the old version of this browser, there's a dedicated URL field plus a Search box at the top.

The LG Octane has EV-DO Rev. 0, which is enough to make the phone compatible with Verizon's broadband services like V Cast Video, Verizon's streaming video service, and V Cast Music with Rhapsody, which lets you purchase and download songs over the air for $1.99. If you have a Rhapsody subscription, you can transfer subscribed tracks to the phone via USB. Thankfully, the Octane's music player interface is separate from V Cast, so it feels quite intuitive and fast to use. You can view album art, too. The player supports MP3, WMA, and unprotected AAC and AAC+ formats. You can create and manage playlists on the fly, and set songs on repeat and shuffle. The phone supports up to 16GB of removable memory for external storage.

The LG Octane takes sharp pictures, but colors look a bit muted.

The 3.2-megapixel camera on the Octane can take pictures in five resolutions, and has a slew of other camera settings. They include a self-timer, flash, white balance modes, color effects, shutter sounds (with a silent option), and five different shot modes that include Smile Shot, Panorama, Intelligent Shot, and the aforementioned Dual Display mode. Picture quality was pretty good, but nothing great. Images looked very sharp, but colors seemed rather muted and washed out. Indoor shots did improve with use of flash, though. There's also a camcorder that can record video in either 320x240 or 176x144 resolution.

The LG Octane doesn't come with any apps, but you do get games like Uno and Scrabble. If you want more apps and games, as well customization items like wallpaper and ringtones, you can get them from the Verizon online store.

We tested the LG Octane in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless. Call quality was average overall. Callers said our voice came through loud and clear, but they did detect a bit of digital distortion toward the end of our sentences. They also said our voice sounded a bit different, and laced with a bit of an echo. Speakerphone calls had just a touch more echo effect, but nothing out of the ordinary. On our end, we experienced similar call quality, but we still managed to carry on a conversation without too many problems.

We have to admit we were a little disappointed with the speeds of EV-DO Rev. 0. We're used to downloading songs in under a minute, but with the case of the Octane, we downloaded a 1.9MB song in around 1 minute and 54 seconds. V Cast videos didn't take long to buffer, but the quality was rather blocky and pixelated.

As for audio quality, the songs sounded quite good over the phone's stereo speakers. There wasn't a lot of bass, but it wasn't as tinny as we expected. Volume was nice and loud, too. We're happy that the Octane has A2DP stereo, but were disappointed that it didn't have a 3.5mm headset jack, especially for a phone with a music player.

The LG Octane has a rated battery life of 6.3 hours talk time and 14.2 days standby time. In our battery drain tests, it has a talk time of 6 hours and 1 minute. According to the FCC, it has a digital SAR of 0.77 watt per kilogram.

What you'll pay

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