Unlike the original Shine, the Shine CU720 packs quite a bit punch when it comes to features. For the basics, the Shine CU720 has a nice 1,000-entry contacts list with room in each entry for two numbers, an e-mail address, and a memo. You can also assign a contact to any caller group, a photo for caller ID, or one of 10 polyphonic ringtones. Other basic features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calculator, a memo pad, a calendar, a calculator, a tip calculator, a world clock, a tasks list, a stopwatch, a unit converter, a date finder, and a d-day counter. More advanced features include voice-command support, a wireless Web browser, a voice recorder, e-mail, instant messaging (supports AOL, Windows Live, and Yahoo messaging services), a speakerphone, and stereo Bluetooth.
The quad-band and 3G support on the LG Shine CU720 is really what makes this so much better than the original KE970. It works worldwide and is compatible with AT&T's high-speed HSDPA network, allowing it access to AT&T's broadband services. They include AT&T's Cellular Video, which lets you watch streaming video clips from sources like CNN and ESPN, as well as AT&T's Mobile Music service that lets you download or stream songs from either Napster or Emusic, provided you have an existing account. The LG Shine is also compatible with AT&T's Video Share service that lets you stream live one-way video during a mobile-to-mobile call (provided the other phone is also compatible with AT&T's Video Share). Other Internet applications include MobiTV, which lets you stream live TV, and MySpace Mobile, which provides instant access to the popular social-networking site.
Going along with the aforementioned AT&T Mobile Music service is a built-in music player. The music player has a fairly generic interface, with the typical player controls, a repeat and shuffle mode, and the ability to organize music with playlists and categories like albums and artists. The music player supports MP3, WAV, AAC, AAC+, and eAAC+ files, and you can transfer them to the phone via a simple USB cable without any software. The LG Shine comes with a microSD card slot, so adding more storage for music shouldn't be a problem. Alternately, you can use AT&T's Mobile Music to download songs. Included with the music bundle is Music ID (a song identification service), XM Radio Mobile (which streams satellite radio from XM if you have an account), the ability to stream music videos, a newsletter about the music industry from Billboard, and access to a music fan community.
The LG Shine CU720 comes armed with the same Schneider Kreuznach lens and autofocus 2.0-megapixel camera as the KE970, which we loved. It is definitely a fabulous camera, with great photo quality. Camera options include a range of resolutions, from 1,600x1,200 to 320x240 pixels. Other camera settings include a self-timer, three quality modes, four color effects, white balance settings, shutter sounds, and a multishot mode. There's also an included camcorder that shoots videos in two resolutions (128x96 and 176x144). The camcorder's editing options are similar to the still camera; plus you can use the zoom. Multimedia message video clips are limited to eight seconds, but otherwise you can shoot as much as available memory permits. Video quality wasn't great, but photo quality was fantastic, with sharp images, crisp detail, and rich colors.
You can personalize the Shine in a number of ways. It comes with an array of wallpaper, color schemes, clock and calendar formats, and alert tones. You can download more graphics and ringtones if you wish. The LG Shine CU720 comes with a few applications like Mobile Banking and My-Cast 5 Weather, as well as a few games like Diner Dash, Midnight Bowling, Pac-Man, and Tetris. Similarly, you can download and purchase more applications or games via the Shine's browser.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) LG Shine CU720 in San Francisco using AT&T's service. Call quality was very good, with little to no static, and a good amount of volume. Callers heard us loud and clear as well, though quality did suffer a little bit in a windier area. Speakerphone calls didn't do as well, due to a slightly muffled and tinny sound emitting from the phone's speakers. Callers said that they couldn't hear us as well, either. We managed to pair the LG Shine CU720 with the Cardo S-2 Bluetooth headset with great results--both calls and music sounded just fine.
Speaking of audio quality, we were satisfied with the MP3s we heard from the Shine's music player. Though the tinny speakers on the LG Shine didn't do the songs justice, the aforementioned headset delivered good, crisp sound. The streaming video quality from AT&T's Cellular Video didn't do so well, though. The videos look horribly compressed with a lot of pixelation and jerky movements--we could hardly read the text on the screen half the time. That said, streaming video had little to no rebuffering time, and downloads were quite fast. We managed to download a game in just a few seconds.
The LG Shine CU720 has a rated talk time of three hours and a promised standby time of 10 days. Our tests revealed a talk time of 3 hours and 41 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the LG Shine CU720 has a digital SAR rating of 1.14 watts per kilogram.