Slide the phone open and you'll find a surprisingly tactile keypad. Slider handsets usually have very flat keys, but this one is an exception. The keys all have a nice curve and bump to them. The top row consists of the Talk, speakerphone, and End/Power keys, and the rest are the number keys. The keys are well-spaced and are raised above the surface.
The LG Rhythm has a 1,000-entry phone book, with room in each entry for five numbers, two e-mail addresses, and a memo. The entries can be organized into caller groups, assigned a photo for caller ID, or paired with one of 30 ringtones or one of six message tones. Other features include a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, voice command and dialing, a calculator, a tip calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a stopwatch, a unit converter, a world clock, a notepad, and a vibrate mode. More advanced users will like the wireless Web browser, mobile Web e-mail (with support for Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, AOL Mail, and Gmail), instant messaging, and stereo Bluetooth support. Do note that you can only use the e-mail and instant messaging within U.S. Cellular's easyedge browser. The Rhythm also comes with EV-DO, which makes Web surfing a lot faster.
The music player on the LG Rhythm is one of the best implementations of a mobile music player we've ever seen. It has a great user interface and is decked out with features you would normally find on a full-blown MP3 player. The songs are categorized into artists, albums, and genres, and you get to play the music in either full view or list view, plus you can choose whether you want to view the album art or see the music spectrum when the song is playing. Other music player settings include the typical shuffle and repeat modes, the ability to create and edit your playlists, highlight animations, and whether you want the music to keep playing in the background.
Most impressive of all are the preset equalizer settings programmed by Mark Levinson, a designer of premier high-fidelity audio equipment. The settings are Natural Sound, Flat, Live, Virtual Bass, Comfort, and Clear. The Rhythm also boasts 3D sound, digital signal processing, and stereo speakers. As we note in our performance section below, this makes a huge difference in the sound quality of the music. Another cool music player feature is that it comes with a built-in FM transmitter, which you can set to any FM band you want. Select a band, tune your car or home stereo to it, and your phone's music will be transmitted over the airwaves. The Rhythm also comes with a microSD card slot to store your songs.
The LG Rhythm comes with a simple 1.3-megapixel camera. It's not the greatest camera we've seen, but it is OK for simple snapshots. You can take photos in five resolutions (1,280x960, 640x480, 320x240, 176x144, and 160x120), three quality settings, five white balance presets, and six color effects. Other camera settings include a night mode, multishot, a self-timer, the choice of four shutter sounds plus a silent option, a brightness setting, and up to 10x zoom (You can't zoom in at the highest resolution, though). Photo quality was good, but nothing to write home about. Images looked a little blurry, though colors appear fine. The built-in camcorder can record up to two resolutions (320x240 and 176x144) in two different times (15 seconds for MMS and up to 1 hour for saving). As expected, video quality is low and shaky, but it's fine if you want to just capture something quick to show to a friend.
You can personalize the Rhythm with a variety of wallpaper and alert tones, plus you can always download more options via the easyedge store. The Rhythm does not come with any games preloaded.
We tested the LG Rhythm in San Francisco using U.S. Cellular's roaming service. We were very impressed with the call quality. Callers said we came through crystal clear, as if we were talking on a landline--no static or crackling at all. The same goes on our end as well. Speakerphone quality was also surprisingly decent. Our callers couldn't hear much of a difference when the speakerphone was on.
Audio quality overall was great. As we said earlier, LG did a great job in making the Rhythm sound like a real music player. There's digital signal processing, 3D sound, and a surprising smooth bass. We definitely still recommend the use of a headset for the best listening experience, and luckily for us, the Rhythm has both stereo Bluetooth plus a 3.5mm headset jack so you have the choice.
We were impressed with the EV-DO speeds; Web pages loaded fast and downloading applications took a mere second or two.
The LG Rhythm has a rated battery life of 3.3 hours talk time and 7.5 days standby time. The tested talk time is a tad longer at 4 hours and 5 minutes. According to the FCC, the LG Rhythm has a digital SAR rating of 0.798 watt per kilogram. The LG Rhythm satisfies the M3/T3 rating in hearing aid compatibility.