LG was one of the first companies to release a HSDPA phone, with the LG CU500, and it was also the first to support AT&T's Video Share video calling service, with the LG CU500V. This cutting-edge streak continues with the LG Trax, a brand-new flip phone that will have all the same features as the LG CU500V, but with an entirely different look. The LG Trax has an external screen that doubles as a mirrored surface, and it sports a unique touch pad unlike any other cell phone we've seen. Unfortunately, we were not impressed with the phone's design, especially the tricky controls and the flat keypad. That said, it does have a slew of features, like a megapixel camera, HSDPA support, a music player, and access to AT&T's array of broadband services. The LG Trax is available for $129.99 with a two-year service commitment.
The LG Trax has a lot of flash going on in its design, with a mirrored surface doubling as the external screen, a brushed-metal front, and a rather thin profile (3.89 by 2.01 inches by 0.62 inch). But the overall style is still rather underwhelming, with a dull, gray overtone and a blocky box shape. It is quite lightweight at 3.55 ounces, and the hinge felt solid when opening and closing the phone. We felt it was comfortable enough to hold in the hand as well as next to the ear.
Rounding out the phone's exterior is a camera lens that sits on top of the external screen, a volume rocker and a dedicated camera key on the left spine, and a microSD card slot on the right.
Flip open the phone and you'll notice a decent 2.2-inch-diagonal internal display. Though it is bright enough, we were a little disappointed with the 65,000 color support, especially since the phone does have a number of video-related features. Images looked acceptable, with legible text and a colorful and animated menu interface. The screen has a backlight timer, a brightness setting, several color schemes, and you also get a choice of size and color for dialing fonts.
We'll say right off the bat that we were not pleased with the LG Trax's keypad. The entire keypad from top to bottom is flat and flush to the surface, with some minimal textured differences. We'll grant that the keys do provide a bit of snap when pressed, but that's about it. The navigation array consists of two soft keys, and a five-way navigation toggle that doubles as shortcuts to text messaging, instant messaging, the address book, the phone's MyStuff folder, and the wireless Web browser. There's also a dedicated music player button plus a key that activates a small shortcuts menu on the bottom of the screen. The Talk, End/Power, and Clear keys are underneath those. As we said, both the navigation array and the keypad consisted of crowded and flat keys that made it quite unpleasant to navigate and dial.
While we can't say we're too impressed with the phone's design, the LG Trax does come with a great feature set. The Trax comes with a large address book, with each entry able to accommodate up to five numbers, two e-mail addresses, and a memo, and to be paired with one of 10 polyphonic ringtones. Each entry can also be assigned a caller group and a photo for caller ID. Other basic features include a vibrate mode, voice command support, a voice recorder, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, instant messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, a notepad, a calculator, a tip calculator, a world clock, a to-do list, a stopwatch, and a unit converter. On the higher end, there's also mobile e-mail support, a wireless Web browser, USB mass storage mode, quad-band support, and stereo Bluetooth.
The LG Trax is also the latest HSDPA phone from AT&T. HSDPA is a 3.5G technology that can theoretically support download speeds of up 3.6Mbps, which allows the LG Trax access to AT&T's array of broadband services. This includes AT&T's Cellular Video service, which offers up exclusive HBO Mobile content as well as streaming video clips from the Cartoon Network, CNN, and ESPN. It also supports AT&T's brand-new video calling feature called AT&T Video Share, a video calling service that lets you stream one-way video to any other Video Share phone within a 3G network. Please read our review of Cellular Video and Video Share for more information.
If you would prefer some music over video, the LG Trax also supports AT&T Music, a suite of applications that lets you access the phone's music player, shop for ringtones, and access services like MobiRadio for radio, XM Radio Mobile, Music Choice for music videos, and MusicID for song identification. You can also download or stream music via a number of music partners including Napster and Yahoo Music To Go, as long as you have the appropriate account. The music player itself is pretty generic-looking, but it does support MP3, WMA, AAC, and AAC+ file formats. Music player settings include a customizable equalizer with visualization, as well as playlist management.
You can personalize the LG Trax with a host of different wallpapers, screensavers, greetings, clocks, calendar faces, and more. You can also download additional graphics or alert tones from AT&T's MediaMall if you wish. The LG Trax comes with a few games, like Brain Challenge, Pac-Man, Ricochet Lost Worlds, Tetris, and Tower Bloxx. It even comes with two applications--MobiTV for live TV on your cell phone, and My-Cast 5 weather for weather updates. Again, you can download more games and applications from AT&T's MediaMall.
We tested the LG Trax quad-band (850/900/1800/1900; GPRS; UMTS; HSDPA) phone in San Francisco using AT&T's service. Call quality was pretty good, though we did experience some hisses and pops occasionally that made it difficult to hear what the other person was saying. Overall though, voices sounded natural, and callers could hear us quite clearly. Speakerphone quality was a little tinny, but it was loud enough and did its job.
We paired the LG Trax with the Cardo S-2 stereo Bluetooth headset, and we heard a few song samples from both the speaker and the headset. Music quality was OK when heard via the phone's speakers, though it did sound a little hollow and the bass didn't sound as pronounced. But the headset changed all that, amplifying the melody greatly.
The HSDPA speed on the phone is quite impressive. We managed to stream videos and music without a hitch, and there was little to no rebuffering on the videos. The video quality was a little blurry, but it was still watchable.
The LG Trax has a rated talk time of up to three hours and a rated standby time of up to 12.5 days. Our tests revealed a talk time of three hours and 21 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the LG Trax has a digital SAR rating of 1.26 watts per kilogram.