The LG Octane might as well be dubbed the LG EnV4, as it looks almost like a successor to the LG EnV series of messaging phones for Verizon Wireless. Sure the design is a little different, but the overall form factor is the same--it has dual displays, a number keypad, and a flip-out keyboard. The features are pretty similar too; they include a 3.2-megapixel camera, EV-DO, a music player with V Cast Music, an HTML Web browser, and GPS. The LG Octane is available for $99.99 after a $50 rebate and a new two-year agreement.
As mentioned above, the LG Octane looks a little like a fattened-up LG EnV3. At 4.21 inches long by 2.16 inches wide by 0.63 inch thick, the Octane is much rounder and thicker than the EnV messaging phone. With a silver chrome border and a reflective display, it's also much shinier--so much so that you can use the front surface as a mirror. Weighing in at 4.5 ounces, the Octane looks and feels like a thick and hefty candy bar phone, but of course it's only that thick because of the flip-out keyboard underneath.
Beneath that shiny front surface is actually a 1.76-inch external display. It has support for 262,000 colors and a 220x176-pixel resolution, which is quite impressive for a simple messaging phone. The screen may be small, but it looks very colorful and vibrant. You can use it to view the currently playing song if the music player is activated, and you can use it as a camera viewfinder. You can also use it as a self-portrait viewfinder if you activate Dual Display mode in the camera settings. Bear in mind that you have to hold the phone open when taking a photo this way, which can be a bit awkward.
You won't get a full menu interface when the phone is closed, only a limited version. You only get to scroll through the menu in a tabbed-style interface, and you can't fiddle with all of the phone's features and settings. For example, you can't access Mobile E-mail, VZ Navigator, and the Web browser when the phone is closed. This sits fine with us, as you probably wouldn't want to surf the Web on such a small screen anyway. You can change the backlight time, brightness, wallpaper, charging screen, font size, and clock format on the external screen, and you can do the same with the main display too. For the main display, you can also adjust the font type and menu layout.
Underneath the display is the navigation array, which is set inside an oval-like panel. In the middle is the OK button surrounded by a square toggle. That in turn is surrounded by the Contacts key, the Send key, the Clear/Voice command key, and the End/Power key. The toggle also doubles as shortcuts to the My Music menu, the Bluetooth menu, the Events page, and the Messaging menu. The toggle is raised above the rest of the keys, so it was easy to navigate by feel.
Below that is the number keypad. It's spread out from one edge of the phone to the other, and is very roomy overall. The keypad is divided into four rows, and each row is neatly delineated with a curved angle. This definitely helps us to dial by feel. If you would rather not use the QWERTY keyboard, you can even type out text messages here via the alphanumeric keypad. On the left spine are the volume rocker and camera key, while the Micro-USB charging port, microSD card slot, and 2.5-millimeter headset jack are on the right. The camera lens and LED flash are on the back.
The phone flips open from the right to reveal a second internal display plus a full QWERTY keyboard. The hinge feels pretty solid, and we like that you can position the display for the proper viewing angle when texting. You can also open it up all the way to 180 degrees if you want to access the aforementioned volume rocker and camera key. As for the display, it's a 2.6-inch, 262,000-color TFT and 320x240-pixel resolution screen. Like the external display, it looks great. Graphics are vibrant with color, and text looks sharp. We also applaud the use of bold animated icons to give the phone that extra design touch. On both sides of the display are stereo speakers.
On the keyboard side of the phone, you get two soft keys positioned directly underneath the display. Underneath that is the full four-row QWERTY keyboard, with a row on the top just for numbers. We felt the keyboard was very roomy and comfortable to use on the whole. There's a subtle curve around the sides of the keyboard, which act as nice resting areas for our thumbs, and the individual keys are raised and well-spaced. Each key clicks nicely as well, and feels good when typing. We like that the Space bar is situated around the middle, and that there is a dedicated period key. The Space bar doubles as a voice command key.
Also on the keyboard is a navigation array on the right side--it consists of the Send and End/Power keys, a square toggle with the middle OK key, a Clear key, and the speakerphone key. The square toggle can be mapped to three user-defined functions with the up, left, and down directions. The right arrow brings up a My Shortcuts window which you can populate with up to four shortcuts. You can also set up a "QWERTY keyboard shortcut" which lets you initiate a contacts search, a new text message, or a new note, simply by typing out letters on the QWERTY keyboard from standby mode.
Along the left side of the keyboard are shortcuts to Verizon's Social Beat app, a new text message, a Shift key, and a Function key. The 2, Q, W, E, and S keys are grayed out to act as a D-pad when playing video games.