We absolutely love the LG VX8350's user-friendly keypad. All the keys from the navigation controls to the alphanumeric keypad are tactile, well-spaced apart, and have a pleasant raised curved texture that make them really easy to press and dial by feel. The navigation keys consist of two soft keys, a five-way toggle that doubles as shortcuts to four user-defined functions, Send and End/Power keys, plus a Clear key. There's also a dedicated speakerphone key that can be activated prior to a call.
The LG VX8350 comes with almost the same features as its predecessor, save for a couple of refinements here and there. As far as basics go, the LG VX8350 has a generous 1,000-entry phone book with room in each entry for five phone numbers and two e-mail addresses. You can then organize them into groups, pair them with an image for photo caller ID, or assign them one of 17 different ringtones and alerts. Other basic features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a speakerphone, instant messaging, voice recording, a notepad, a calendar, a calculator, a stop watch, an alarm clock, a world clock, a tip calculator, and voice command capabilities. On the higher end, you also get e-mail, a wireless Web browser, EV-DO support, and stereo Bluetooth. A departure from most Verizon phones, the LG VX8350 supports a wide array of Bluetooth profiles--you can transfer files via Bluetooth as well as use it as a modem if you wish. Another great feature of the LG VX8350 is that you can use it in USB Mass Storage mode.
Like its predecessor, the LG VX8350 supports both Verizon's V Cast as well as V Cast Music. Thanks to the VX8350's external music player controls, you can access the music while the phone is closed and treat it like a normal MP3 player. The album art on the display is a nice touch. The MP3 player itself is fairly generic, but you do get a decent track listing plus the option to play the playlist in shuffle mode. Also another upgrade from the VX8300 is that the VX8350 supports both WMAs as well as MP3s. Songs from V Cast Music cost $1.99 each if you download it over the air, but you can also load your own music onto the phone via a microSD card with Verizon's Music Essentials Kit ($19.99). We wish we didn't have to pay extra for the kit, however.
The LG VX8350 also comes with the 1.3-megapixel camera similar to that on the VX8300, and that's a good thing. Photo quality did not disappoint, with sharp images and vivid colors. Camera settings include three different resolutions (1,280x960, 640x480, and 320x240), a self-timer, white balance, shutter sounds (with a silent option), color effects, brightness, a night mode, photometry/spot meter modes, plus the option to save the image to the phone's internal memory or to a microSD card. We were, however, slightly disappointed that the camera had no flash. Camcorder settings are similar to that of the still camera, though there is only one video resolution of 176x144 pixels. The video length depends on whether it'll be for sending via MMS (which is up to 30 seconds), or whether it'll be for available storage on the phone (which is up to an hour or so). Video quality was quite acceptable for a camera phone like this, but it was still pretty low-quality with pixelated images and jerky movements.
Personalization options are abundant with the LG VX8350. You can change the wallpaper, display themes, clock styles, ringtones, alert sounds, and more. And if you aren't satisfied with what's included in the phone, you can always download more from Verizon. There aren't any included games, but you can feel free to purchase a game for either a subscription rate or for an unlimited-use, one-time download fee.
We tested the LG VX8350 in San Francisco using the Verizon Wireless network. Call quality was exceptional--we were very impressed with the clarity and crispness of the sound quality. We experienced no static, and callers said they heard us loud and clear. They didn't even think we called from a cell phone at first. The LG VX8350 also comes with built-in "Voice Clarity" mode that automatically adjusts the voice level based on surrounding noise. Speakerphone mode also did admirably well--we held the phone about a foot or two away from us, and callers still heard us just fine, albeit slightly muffled. Our only gripe is that the speakers are on the back of the phone, so the volume wasn't as loud as it should be. Similarly, music quality was fantastic as well--probably among the best we've heard from a music phone. It was still slightly light on bass, but that's to be expected from a device like this. We paired the phone with the Cardo S-2 stereo Bluetooth headset and used it for both calls and music without a problem.
EV-DO speeds made surfing and downloading files a painless experience. We managed to download a Simpsons game in a matter of seconds, and a song we purchased downloaded in less than a second, it seemed. Streaming video quality was very good as well, with little to no buffering.
The LG VX8350 has a rated battery life of 3.45 hours of talk time and a rated standby time of up to 8.75 days. We got a tested talk time of 4 hours and 15 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the VX8350 has a digital SAR rating of 1.30 watts per kilogram.