The Good Full QWERTY keyboard; high-quality displays; EV-DO capable; MP3 player; Mini SD card slot; 1.3-megapixel camera; Bluetooth; loud stereo speakers/speakerphone; voice-recognition features.
The Bad Bulky; awkward camera ergonomics; small navigation controls; tiny screen type; tinny, metallic voice quality.
The Bottom Line A QWERTY keyboard makes messaging faster, easier, and more fun on the fully loaded LG VX9800, but the trade-off is a bulky, less-than-cool handset.
LG VX9800 (Verizon Wireless)
After a slow start, text messaging has caught on in a big way in the United States, and Americans now send more than 5 billion text messages every month. In response, carriers have begun to introduce handsets such as the LG VX9800 for Verizon Wireless. Although mainly the domain of smart phones and PDAs, full QWERTY keyboards are now appearing on basic cell phones, and the VX9800 marks the fourth such handset picked up by a U.S. carrier. Whether the convenience of the keyboard on this mini-laptop-like 3G (EV-DO) cell phone trumps the inconvenience of its bulkiness and ergonomic compromises is up to you. But there's no denying that the keyboard vastly improves messaging on every level. Just be prepared to open your wallet wide for the privilege: The LG VX9800 comes at a pricey $299.99, with an online discount and a two-year contract available from Verizon Wireless. The overall aesthetics of the LG VX9800 reflect its multiple functions. It's essentially the cell phone version of The Three Faces of Eve. From the front, it's a standard candy bar mobile with an alphanumeric dial pad, a navigation array, and an external display. Turn it over, and it resembles a thin digital camera with a flash above the lens, a portrait/macro toggle below it, and the shutter-release key on the top-right side, where your right index finger thinks it will be. Finally, like the , the VX9800 opens lengthwise to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard and a separate internal display.
Although this transformerlike form factor is eye-catching and user-friendly, as with all multifunction devices, compromises have been made on all three faces. At 4.57 by 1.97 by 1 inches and a hefty 5.19 ounces, the LG VX9800 is heavy and bulky. It fits only in bigger pockets, and it can be uncomfortable to hold against your face for long conversations. On the upside, it's solidly built, and there's no external antenna to add to the bulk. The external display supports 65,000 colors, but it's relatively small--especially considering the phone's size--measuring 1.75 inches diagonally. It shows all the necessary information, including the date, the time, battery life, signal strength, and photo caller ID (where available); conveniently, you can use it to scroll through some of the menus without having to open the phone. Additionally, you can change the backlighting and the font size.
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