Camera phones loaded with multimedia features may get all the headlines, but there are a lot of mobile users out there who just want to make calls. This low-maintenance group is the ideal market for the LG VI-125, a compact and simple clamshell from Sprint that delivers great voice quality and solid battery life. The unassuming form factor won't challenge cell phone newbies, while the basic but usable features should keep more-advanced callers happy. Also, at $189 or cheaper with service, you can't beat the price. The LG VI-125 sports a standard flip-phone design, but that's not to say it's completely boring. A black-and-silver color scheme and pleasant streamlined edges result in an attractive shape that is perfect for those who don't want to call attention to themselves. Weighing in at 3.35 ounces and measuring just 3.5 by 1.7 by 0.9 inches, the VI-125 slips into a pocket easily and is extremely light in the hand. The phone's portability is further enhanced by its internal antenna, so there isn't an external nub sticking out.
Fortunately, the mobile comes with an external display, a feature we always approve of. The postage-stamp-size screen is monochrome, but it shows time, signal strength, date, battery life, and caller ID (where available). The internal display measures 1.8 inches diagonally and shows 65,536 colors. It's bright enough so that you can clearly view pictures and phone numbers, but it's a little small for serious Web browsing or text messaging; you can't change the font size either.
With a design reminiscent of a Samsung handset's, the circular four-way toggle is used to navigate the phone's menu system, and the OK button is placed logically at the center. The toggle provides shortcuts to messaging, downloads, contacts, and a scheduler. You also get two soft keys and a dedicated Back button. The backlit keypad is well laid out and easy to navigate; the slightly raised keys are small but well spaced.
On the side of the phone, you will find volume controls, a 2.5mm headset jack, and a dedicated voice-dialing button. One bonus not found on most entry-level phones is an integrated speakerphone--a nod to how many users are now using this feature. The speakerphone button is conveniently located just below the circular toggle.Voice features dominate the LG VI-125's feature set, with a built-in speakerphone, 30 polyphonic ring tones, a vibrate mode, and voice-dialing capabilities. But there are a few fun extras as well. The phone book lets you create 200 entries, each with five numbers, an e-mail address, and a Web address. In addition to the conventional text and picture caller ID, the phone also provides customizable avatars for each caller. You configure a little anime character, choosing her hair, eyes, and clothing, and associate it with particular callers. Only a female avatar is included; male avatars, presumably, must be purchased separately.
Other productivity tools include a calendar with scheduler, an alarm clock, a notepad, a calculator, a tip calculator, and the ubiquitous world clock. Using the built-in voice recorder, you can also record you own voice ringers as well as up to 30 voice memos. Unfortunately, the combined length of your voice memos cannot exceed three minutes. The phone has only 1MB of internal memory, which is a bit low even for a model without a camera.