Though the slick LG VX4600 is the next model above the , the two Verizon handsets hardly look like each other. For starters, the VX4600 is smaller and more stylish, with longer battery life and an external display that resembles the type found on Verizon's LG VX6000. The VX4600 also lacks its predecessor's speakerphone, yet it's an excellent midrange mobile for users who primarily want to make voice calls. Don't bother looking for this model in Verizon stores, however, because it's offered only online. The $119 price is fair, but you can get it for as low as $69.99 with a two-year contract. The LG VX4600 doesn't reinvent the standard flip-phone design so much as refines it. The handset measures a svelte 3.43 by 1.81 by 0.98 inches and weighs in at a slight 3.4 ounces, despite the thick, 1-inch external antenna. It slides easily into a front pocket but still comfortably covers the distance between your ear and your mouth when you're making calls. This model clearly is a step up from the in terms of looks; it shaves off the VX4500's teardrop shape for a smaller and more streamlined profile. The phone feels very solid, and the deep-blue and silver shell resists smudges and scratches. The only controls on the outside are a volume rocker, a key to activate voice dialing (see ), and a 2.5mm headset jack on the left spine.
The LG VX4600's small, rectangular Organic Electro-Luminescent (OEL) external display is taken straight from the LG VX6000. The result is a cool retro look with the same flashing colored dots and scrolling text. Though the screen is monochrome, the bright-blue text can be seen as easily in streaming sunshine as it can in a pitch-black room. The dots light up to indicate incoming calls, voicemail, and text messages, and the screen shows the time, signal strength, caller ID (where available), and battery life.
The interior display is also eye-catching. With 65,000 colors to work with and a choice of two font sizes, it's great for checking out the vibrant wallpaper and playing downloadable games. It's also more viewable in direct sunlight than other phones we've seen. To keep the display from consuming too much juice, you can set the backlight to turn off after a certain amount of time. Just be aware it looks dead without the backlight, but it springs back to life when you touch any key.
The navigation system and the animated menus are easy to use. There are two soft keys, and a four-way circular toggle offers shortcuts to the calendar, the wireless Web, Verizon's Get It Now, and the messaging services. The VX4600 also features a centrally located and clearly labeled OK button used to make most of the menu selections. The keypad buttons are well spaced, but they're set flush with the surface of the phone, and the blue backlighting is rather dim. As a midrange choice, the LG VX4600 ships with a basic but respectable set of voice and data features. The phone book can store 499 contacts, each of which can take five numbers and three e-mail addresses. In addition to silent and vibrate modes, the handset comes with 36 polyphonic ring tones, and more can be downloaded online. You also can assign ring tones and pictures for various contacts, though the pictures don't show up on the external display. You can even choose separate tones for any text messages received from a given contact.
The organizer features include a calendar, an alarm clock, four-minute voice memos, a notepad, a tip calculator, a calculator, and a world clock. You can get Enhanced Messaging Service (EMS) to send and receive text messages with graphics, as well as sound-text messaging and voice-activated dialing. One feature noticeably absent was a speakerphone, though it can be found on the .
You can personalize the phone with a choice of wallpaper or theme colors. In addition to the Openwave UP 4.1 Web browser, the VX4600 can access Verizon's Get It Now service, which offers a number of BREW-supported games, ring tones, and wallpaper designs. Get It Now lets you choose from a variety of images, ranging from cute puppies to monster trucks, which you can use as start-up or shutdown splash screens. Although the prices can be steep ($1.99 for a single image of a sad-faced pug or a peppy poodle), the screen is great for gaming. You can also download games, such as Tetris and Downtown Hold'em, and applications from Accuweather.com. The ability to check the real-time Doppler radar in your area from your phone is worth the $2.99 fee. We tested the dual-band (CDMA 1900/800) LG VX4600 in New York City using the Verizon network. The phone consistently found a clear, strong signal, and we could hear callers easily. Although some callers complained of an echo effect, the overall sound quality was excellent.
The standard battery delivered nearly 3.5 hours of talk time, beating the rated time of 3.3 hours. On standby, the phone made it through 6 days without requiring a recharge, just short of the promised 6.8 days. One item we didn't like: The handset comes with a bulky desktop charger, which won't thrill hard-core road warriors.