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Hands-on with the LG Lotus Elite

We take a closer look at the LG Lotus Elite, the latest fashion messaging phone from Sprint. It has dual 2.4-inch QVGA displays, with an external touch screen as one of them.

LAS VEGAS--Mere hours after LG announced the Lotus Elite, we headed over to the company's booth to get a closer look at the touch-screen successor to the LG Lotus. The Lotus Elite is indeed much curvier and sleeker than the original. Measuring 3.43 inches wide by 2.44 inches long by about three-quarters of an inch thick, it still has that square-ish design and is quite lightweight at less than half an ounce as well.

The most interesting part of the new design is, of course, the new external touch screen. It is 2.4 inches diagonally, which takes up quite a bit of real estate on such a small phone. With 262,000 colors and 320x240 pixels, it looks sharp and colorful and is surprisingly intuitive to use. You can access your e-mails, voicemail, texts, contacts, pictures, and recent call history from the external screen just by swiping and tapping your finger.

The interior of the phone reveals yet another 2.4-inch display with the same specifications. You get the same menu interface as the original Lotus with Sprint's OneClick taking center stage. Some of the more interesting shortcuts in the OneClick carousel include access to Facebook, Twitter, and Google Search.

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Interestingly, the 2-megapixel camera on the Lotus Elite is located right on the hinge of the phone. When the phone is closed, the camera lens appears on the upper left side of the phone's rear. When the phone is open, the lens appears on the hinge in between the display and the keypad. This certainly makes it easier to take self-portraits.

The Lotus Elite also now has three dedicated shortcut keys labeled Social, Email, and Text underneath the navigation keys. The Social key can be mapped to a social network of your choice--Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter. And since it is a messaging phone, it also has a full QWERTY keyboard for all your texting needs. The keyboard feels good--not too cramped or crowded--with domed keys that feel snappy when pressed.

As we mentioned in our announcement, the LG Lotus Elite has EV-DO Rev. 0, GPS with Sprint Navigation, access to Sprint broadband services like Sprint TV, and a music player.

As we said, the LG Lotus Elite will be available on January 10 for $99.99 with a two-year agreement and a $50 mail-in rebate.