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LG Chocolate 3 - black (Verizon Wireless) review:

LG Chocolate 3 - black (Verizon Wireless)

Underneath the display is a simple navigation array, which consists of two soft keys, a circular toggle plus OK button, a dedicated speakerphone key, a dedicated camera key, plus the Send, Clear, and End/Power keys. The up, down, and left directions on the circular toggle doubles as shortcuts to three user-defined functions. For even more shortcut options, the right arrow leads to a My Shortcuts folder, which you can list with any four favorite shortcuts.

The overall keypad, both the navigation array and the alphanumeric keys, felt quite slippery and flat. There were slight delineations between each key, which helped with dialing and texting, but we still wouldn't recommend dialing by feel.

The LG Chocolate 3 comes with a USB cable plus an AC adapter.

Like all the other Chocolate phones, the LG Chocolate 3 is one music-focused phone. But first, the basics. The LG Chocolate 3 comes with a 1,000-entry phone book, with room in each entry for five numbers and two e-mail addresses. The entries can then be organized into caller groups, assigned a photo for caller ID, or paired with one of 21 ringtones or one of six alert tones. Other features include a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, voice command and dialing, a calculator, a tip calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a stopwatch, a world clock, a notepad, and a vibrate mode. More advanced users will like the wireless Web browser, e-mail, instant messaging, USB mass storage capabilities, and a support for a robust array of Bluetooth profiles--they include stereo Bluetooth, phonebook access, dial-up networking, printing, file transfer, and more. It also has support for VZ Navigator, Verizon's location-based turn-by-turn service.

Since the LG Chocolate 3 has EV-DO support, it has access to Verizon's full array of V Cast services, which include streaming video courtesy of V Cast Video, as well as music downloads thanks to the newly launched V Cast Music with Rhapsody. You can download songs over the air directly to the phone for $1.99, which also includes a simultaneous download to the PC. To save money, you can download songs to the PC for 99 cents each, and then transfer the songs to your phone via a USB cable. The Chocolate 3 has a whopping 1GB of internal memory, plus you can supplement it with a microSD card slot that takes up to 8GB cards. Though you can stream music to your PC via the $14.99 a month Rhapsody service, you can't stream music wirelessly to your phone.

The music player interface is fairly simple, and it appears the same on both the main and external display. The album art dominates the screen, while the player controls appear along the bottom. As we mentioned earlier, you can use the scroll wheel to control the music as well as scroll through the list of songs. Music settings include shuffle, repeat, six equalizer presets, and music only mode (this turns off the cell phone radio so that you use the phone only as a music player). You can create and manage your own playlists, plus there's a rhythmical cursor option that has an effect of a colorful cursor as the music is playing. Also a very nice feature of the music player is that there's a built-in FM transmitter for three different bands--88.1 Mhz, 96.1 Mhz, and 106.1 Mhz. Just select one, tune your radio to it, and the music will transmit to your radio. The music player supports WMA, MP3, and unprotected AAC and AAC+ file formats. You can multitask while listening to the music as well.

The LG Chocolate 3 had decent but not great photo quality.

The LG Chocolate 3 has a 2.0-megapixel camera, which is an improvement over its predecessors. It can take photos in four different resolutions (1,600x1,200, 1,280x960, 640x480, and 320x240), five different white-balance settings, five different color effects, and three different spot photometry modes. Other options include a brightness setting, a self-timer, plus the choice of three shutter sounds (plus a fourth silent option). Photo quality was pretty good, but nothing spectacular. Images looked sharp enough, but they did seem slightly washed out. There's also a built-in camcorder that can record up to two resolutions (320x240 and 176x144) in two different times (up to 30 seconds for MMS and up to 1 hour or available memory). Video quality was expectedly low-quality and shaky, as expected from a camera phone. That said, it's okay for simple candid shots.

Personalization options are aplenty with the LG Chocolate 3. There's a variety of wallpapers, alert sounds, and display themes to choose from, and if you aren't satisfied with what you get, you can always download more via the Web browser. No games or applications come with the phone, but again, you can download them via the Web.

We tested the (CDMA 800/1900; EV-DO) LG Chocolate 3 in San Francisco using Verizon's service. We were very impressed by the call quality. Callers had no problem hearing us; we sounded loud and clear with very little static at all. We also heard them without much problem, though there was the occasional static in the background. Speakerphone quality was predictably tinny and hollow, but callers could still hear us quite well. We were able to pair the Chocolate 3 with the Aliph Jawbone 2 without a problem.

Music quality was decent as well. The bass was a little lacking, but the overall quality is good enough for short stints while waiting in line or riding the bus. Of course, we recommend the use of a pair of good headphones for the best listening experience. Download speeds were more than satisfactory--a 1.8 MB song took a little less than a minute to download. Streaming video quality from V Cast is about the same as other phones with the same service--rather pixelated for fast-action movies, but very little rebuffering time.

The LG Chocolate 3 has a rated battery life of 4.5 hours talk time and 14.5 days of standby time. Our tests revealed a talk time of 5 hours and 7 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the LG Chocolate 3 has a digital SAR rating of 1.26 watts per kilogram.

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