The Vortex wouldn't be a phone without solid phone features that include a speakerphone, conference calling, voice dialing, text and multimedia messaging, a voice recorder, and visual voice mail. Do note that Verizon's visual voice mail costs around $2.99 a month. The phone book is limited only by the available memory, and there's room in each entry for multiple numbers, e-mail addresses, IM handles, and so on. You can merge contact information from multiple e-mail accounts, and even from your Facebook and Twitter accounts. You can access e-mail from your own POP3/IMAP servers plus Exchange if your workplace supports it.
As the Vortex is billed as an entry-level phone, we wouldn't expect anything too extraordinary in the multimedia department. The music and video players are standard Android fare, with support for popular media formats like MP3, WMA, unprotected AAC, DivX, WMV, MP4, 3GP, and 3G2. You can sync music from PC to phone, create and manage playlists, and store music on the microSD card. The phone comes with a 2GB card installed, but it takes up to 32GB cards.
The 3.2-megapixel camera on the Vortex can take pictures in five different resolutions and three picture quality settings. It has a slew of other features like an adjustable ISO, white balance, color effects, a timer, brightness, six scene modes (Automatic, Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night, and Sunset), four focus modes (Auto, Macro, Face tracking, and Manual), five shot modes (Normal, Continuous, Smile shot, Beauty shot, Art shot), and 2x digital zoom.
Picture quality was pretty good for a 3.2-megapixel camera; images looked sharp, but colors did seem rather washed out. The video recorder can capture video in 640x480, 320x240, and 176x144 resolutions in either a long storage mode or shorter MMS lengths.
We tested the LG Vortex in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless. Call quality was good, but not great. On our end, we heard our callers quite clearly, but we did encounter the occasional voice distortion, especially if we were moving during the call.
Callers said they, too, heard us loud and clear most of the time. However, they did say our voice quality sounded quite harsh and digitized and not as natural as they would like. Speakerphone calls were pretty good--callers said they couldn't tell much of a difference when the speakerphone was on.
We were very impressed with the EV-DO Rev. A speeds on the Vortex. We loaded the mobile CNET page in just 5 seconds and the full CNET page in 25 seconds. YouTube videos only took a few seconds to buffer, though the video quality was rather blocky and pixelated.
The LG Vortex has a 600MHz processor, which may be far dinkier than the modern 1GHz processors on higher-end smartphones, but we found it suitable for our needs. There was hardly any delay or lag when launching or switching apps, or when swiping between home screens. We did experience the occasional app crashing, though--the browser crashed on us a couple of times--but this happened rarely. Zooming in and out of Web pages did seem a bit choppy as well.