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Commentary Phones

Remembering one of LG's coolest phones (that's not the V30)

Before the iPhone and Android, "feature phones" were the ultimate mobile experience, and the VX8300 was one of the best.

lg-vx-8300

The LG VX8300: Oh so simple now, but not 14 years ago

LG

Picture it: San Francisco, July 4, 2006. It's a year before the first iPhone would go on sale and six months before we even knew for sure that the earth-shattering handset existed. Sure we had "smartphones" at the time, in the form of Palm Treos and assorted Windows Mobile devices (for you youngsters out there, that was Microsoft's software before Windows Phone), but they never fell into the hands of mainstream users. And even by the standards of the time, Windows Mobile was a pain to use.

All that left us salivating over "feature phones" during the middle aughts. Though there was never a firm definition of feature phone, the term generally described a handset without third-party software that did much more than just make calls. It could have a full keyboard for texting like the LG EnV or even a rudimentary touchscreen, but it also could also have a simpler flip phone design, like one of my favorite feature phones, the LG VX8300

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An update to the cool blue VX8100, the LG VX8300 would be a burner phone today, but 12 years ago it told a different tale. Consider these (then) remarkable features, some of which the iPhone wouldn't get for a couple of years.

  • A 1.3-megapixel camera with video recording and a flash
  • External music controls and stereo speakers (on each hinge)
  • Support for Verizon's 3G EV-DO network
  • Call recording
  • A duplex speakerphone (meaning you and your caller could talk at the same time)
  • Voice commands
  • A microSD card slot
  • A tested battery of life 3.5 hours talk time and 13 days(!) of standby time
  • Stereo Bluetooth and the ability to use the phone as a modem (both features came in late 2006 through a firmware update)

In my review, I gave the VX8300 an "Excellent" rating of four out of five stars. Though performance was admirable, I didn't like the VX8300's Bluetooth didn't support file transfers. But that omission wasn't surprising as Verizon had a bad habit at the time of limiting Bluetooth features on its phones.

I haven't seen a VX8300 in at least a decade -- you can buy one online for less than $100 -- though it would be interesting to live with one again for a week. I'd have calls, music and texts, but no apps and an achingly slow mobile browser. It would be less useful, no doubt, but in an always-on world with constant notifications, that's sometimes appealing. 

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