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HolidayBuyer's Guide

LG VX9800

LG EnV VX9900

LG Voyager VX10000

LG EnV 2

LG EnV 3

LG EnV Touch

LG Genesis

LG was one of the first phone makers to jump on the messaging phone bandwagon, and it did so with the LG VX9800 way back in 2005. But the VX9800 was no ordinary messaging phone--it featured a flip design, with not one but two screens. From the outside, the VX9800 just looked like a chubby candy bar, with a small display and a number keypad. But flip it open, and you'll find a 2.25-inch color display. Amusingly, we thought this screen was pretty good-looking for the time, and we found the keyboard easy to use as well.

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Following the success of the LG VX9800, LG followed it up with the LG EnV VX9900 the following year. It has essentially the same design, but with a few refinements to the keyboard and the 2-megapixel camera.

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When LG introduced the LG Voyager VX10000 in 2007, it really threw us for a loop. Instead of the external number keypad, LG had replaced it with a full-on 2.8-inch resistive touch screen. Truly, the Voyager was a complete revamp compared to the VX9800 and the VX9900, with features that were notably more advanced--EV-DO support, V Cast Mobile TV, integrated GPS, and even a full HTML browser. While it's not quite a smartphone due to the lack of Wi-Fi, at the time we thought it was quite remarkable, and even awarded it an Editors' Choice.

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After the success of the LG Voyager, we were again surprised by LG with the launch of the LG EnV 2 in 2008. It appeared to be a return to the original EnV form factor of a tiny external display and an external number keypad. Yet, it departed from the clunky and bulky form factor of its predecessors, opting instead for a slimmer and sleeker design. In fact, we thought the exterior looked more like a calculator than a phone. However, its features were unchanged from the EnV VX9900, which was three years old at this point.

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The LG EnV 3, which debuted in 2009, had essentially the same design as the EnV 2, but with an improved keyboard layout and more advanced features, which include a 3-megapixel camera, a HTML browser, e-mail, and more. It was one of the best messaging phones we saw all year.

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LG launched the successor to the Voyager, the LG EnV Touch, also in 2009. This too had a touch-screen display, but with a much improved interface. The display seemed brighter, bigger, and more vibrant, and the keyboard was certainly improved. We also liked the 3.2-megapixel camera with its multiple settings, a 3.5mm headset jack, EV-DO Rev. A, and more. If for some reason you weren't ready to make the leap to smartphones, the EnV Touch was as advanced as feature phones could get.

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The LG Genesis is what we would call the grown-up version of the EnV and the Voyager. It has that same dual-screen flip design, but it's no longer a feature phone. Indeed, it's actually a full-blown Android smartphone. While the Voyager and the EnV Touch only had one touch screen on the front (and a resistive one at that), the Genesis has two touch-screen displays, and both of them are capacitive. Continuing the reputation of the EnV series, the Genesis has a wonderful physical keyboard too.

Aside from its feature phone roots, the Genesis is quite a good midrange Android smartphone. It has Android 2.2, Wi-Fi, DLNA support, a decent 5-megapixel camera, and more. One key difference is that the Genesis debuted with U.S. Cellular, while the other EnV and Voyager models were Verizon Wireless exclusives.

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