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LG C1300 (AT&T) review: LG C1300 (AT&T)

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The Good Small and light; well-integrated instant messenger; solid call quality.

The Bad No external display; keys are small and hard to press; poor standby battery life.

The Bottom Line LG's sleek, flyweight C1300 is great for a starter cell phone, but its quirky design and subpar battery life won't please everyone.

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5.6 Overall
  • Design 5
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6

LG C1300

With its mirrored surface, its curved lines, and its colorful screen, LG's compact C1300 for Cingular sure looks great. Unfortunately, we quickly grew annoyed by the phone's hard-to-press keys and the blink-and-you'll-miss-it standby time. And unlike the LG L1200, which was introduced at the same time, the C1300 is without an integrated camera. Call quality was excellent, but if you're looking for a sharp but basic phone that's small and light, you can do better. The phone is fairly priced at $189.99.

Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more. Featuring smooth curves and a slick, mirrored face, the LG C1300 is all about understated elegance. Measuring just 3.2 by 1.7 by 0.8 inches and weighing a mere 2.8 ounces, this bite-size phone felt light as a feather in our fingertips, and it fit in our jeans pocket with plenty of room to spare. In terms of size, this is the perfect night-on-the-town, don't-know-it's-there phone.

Small stuff: The compact C1300 is ultraportable.

Though the C1300 has the real estate for an external screen, it instead has a 1-inch-wide, one-way mirror that looks like a porthole. A single LED behind the mirror blinks green when there's a signal and red when it's charging or when out of network range. While the mirror might be cool for some, we would have preferred an actual display instead. Without one, you have to open the phone not only to see the caller but also to get such vital information as the time, the battery life, or the signal strength. Flip the C1300 open and things get a bit better, though, as you'll find the small but vibrant 65,000-color display. The 1.5-inch-diagonal screen is vivid when you're indoors, but we could barely read it in direct sunlight.

Strike a pose: The C1300's mirror will show who's the fairest of them all.

The phone's stylish, backlit navigation buttons can't be faulted for appearance; the oval four-way toggle and teardrop-shaped soft keys look fabulous, and LG wisely included an OK button in the toggle's center. You get quick shortcuts to your messaging, your contacts, the main menu, and ring tones with the four-way key, while the star key lets you change the ringer mode. Unfortunately, the navigation and keypad buttons are small considering the available space, so our fingertips regularly missed the mark when dialing a number. The only control on the phone's exterior is a small volume rocker.

The C1300's colorful, animated menus are easy to use, though they are not as attractive as those on its sibling, the LG L1200. However, we liked the floating shortcut bar on the main screen that gives you quick access to instant messaging, message in-boxes, and voicemail. The bar disappears after a few seconds of inactivity. The LG C1300 sports a solid lineup of features for a basic phone, including a 255-entry address book. Each entry has room for three phone numbers, an e-mail address, and notes. Contacts can be assigned to caller groups, and you can store an additional 250 names on the SIM card. Other features include text and multimedia messaging, a WAP 2.0 wireless browser, speed dialing for 9 contacts, 8 polyphonic and 10 monophonic ring tones, a vibrate mode, a calendar (with month and day views but no week view), an alarm clock, memos, a calculator, a world clock, and a metric converter. Unfortunately, the C1300 lacks a speakerphone.

We like the C1300's support for ICQ and AOL Instant Messaging, which allows you to save login settings and stay connected while you're using the phone's other features. You also get a single Java (J2ME)-enabled game, SpaceBall, in which you guide a snakelike creature around a grid, collecting little balls along the way. If you're more than 13 years old, we recommend skipping it and instead downloading other games or applications via Cingular's Media Mall service (fees will vary).

The C1300's customization options are disappointingly slim. Other than choosing your own wallpaper, message tones, or key sounds, there isn't much left to tweak--no screensavers and no color themes. The C1300 also has only a list view for the menu design. We tested the dual-band (GSM 800/1900, GPRS) LG C1300 in the New York metro area using Cingular's service. We had no trouble with our calls--our conversations were so clear our callers thought that we were on a landline.

We got about 3.5 hours of talk time on the C1300, which is slightly better than the 3.4 hours listed in LG's specifications. However, standby time was terrible: just more than 3 days, compared with LG's promise of about 10 days. If you're planning on using the C1300 as your primary cell phone, keep the charger handy.

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