LG Cosmos 3 (Verizon Wireless) review: Free, but still not worth it

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MSRP: $189.99

The Good The LG Cosmos 3 from Verizon features a surprisingly sharp display, is equipped with a four-row keyboard, and it's free with a contract.

The Bad The Cosmos 3's camera doesn't have a flash and can't record video, and its Web browser is too cumbersome to even bother navigating.

The Bottom Line Though the Cosmos 3 is free with contract, you're better off paying more for a comparable handset, like the Samsung Intensity III.

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5.7 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 5
  • Performance 6

Contrary to its overselling name, the LG Cosmos 3 is anything but "out of this world."

True, it's just a feature device, and while it's good for anyone looking for a simple handset that's ideal for messaging, this phone brings little to the table that the Cosmos 2 didn't already offer.

And really, what's the point of making another iteration if it's nearly identical to its predecessor? Users still get the same 2-inch screen, same measly 1.3-megapixel camera, and same battery specs. It even sports the same look for the most part.

True, this phone is free, but so are a bunch of other devices (smartphones, even!) on Verizon. And if you're really adamant about a keyboard construction, well, the carrier has a better alternative for that as well.

Because the LG Cosmos 3 is a slider device, it won't be so slim that it'll fit comfortably in your pocket without a bulge. That being said, it's a relatively lightweight handset (at 4.58 ounces) that is easily maneuverable with one hand.

The phone measures 4.41 inches tall, 2.06 inches wide, and 0.63-inch thick. On the left are a small (and rather flush) volume rocker and a Micro-USB port that can be covered with a small attached door. Up top is a 3.5mm headphone jack and on the right is a hard key to launch the camera.

LG Cosmos 3 (Verizon)
For all you messaging enthusiasts, the handset is equipped with a four-row QWERTY keyboard. Josh Miller/CNET

On the rear is a 1.3-megapixel camera (that isn't equipped with a flash). Below that are three small slits for the speaker. You can remove the battery door by a small indentation up top. Once detached, you can gain access to the microSD card slot, which is expandable up to 32GB, and the battery.

The 2-inch TFT screen has a 320x240-pixel resolution and can support up to 262,000 colors. Given the Cosmos' bright and vibrant menu user interface, the display is pretty respectable. It has a wide viewing angle and in addition to crisp icons and texts, the device surprisingly retains a lot of details with photos.

To the left and below the display are two pairs of soft keys (the former for when you turn the handset on its side to type with the physical keyboard). You'll also get a speaker, clear, send, and power/end buttons, plus a circular navigation button with an OK key in the center.

Below all that is an alphanumeric pad. All these buttons are slightly textured and angular for easy pressing, and while the numbers are a bit small, I didn't have any trouble with my accuracy.

The four-row keyboard includes four directional keys, a spacebar that also launches social networks for Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, and shortcut buttons for things like the speaker, vibration, and messages. The snapping mechanism for the keyboard is sturdy and you can slide out the underside with little difficulty. In general, the keys are small and tightly spaced, but if you type with the tips of your fingers, you won't have any trouble messaging.

The phone can hold up to 1,000 contacts, and each person can have five numbers, two e-mail addresses, one geographical address, one screen name, one contact photo, and a note attached under his or her name. There's also a section in your contacts to add in In Case of Emergency data like favorite numbers and personal medical information. Lastly, you can send text, picture, and voice messages.

Basic task managing apps include standard and tip calculators, a calendar, a to-do list, an alarm clock, a stopwatch, a world clock, a notepad, voice commands, and a document reader that can read multiple file formats like word docs, Microsoft Excel files, and PDFs.

There are some rudimentary Web applications, such as an Internet browser, an e-mail client, and an app portal where users can purchase games, apps, and ringtones. Additional features include language support for Spanish, Chinese, and Korean, GPS capabilities, and Bluetooth 2.1.

LG Cosmos 3 (Verizon)
As a feature handset, the Cosmos 3 does offer a few software features, but not much. Josh Miller/CNET

The Cosmos 3's 1.3-megapixel camera isn't powerful by any means and comes with few editing options. These include a brightness meter, three photo sizes (from 320x240 to 1,280x960), a timer, three shutter sounds, five white balances, five color effects, a night mode, and a noise reducer.

As expected, photo quality wasn't anything to write home about. Pictures taken in dim lighting were very blurry, with ill-defined outlines and patchy rendering. Photos taken outside with ample lighting fared better, with objects appearing more sharp and colors more accurate.

LG Cosmos 3 (outdoor)
Despite many things going on in this shot, you can still make out enough details and objects are clear in this amply lit setting. Lynn La/CNET
LG Cosmos 3 (indoor)
Though this room was brightly lit, colors are muted and washed together, and the windows are blown out. Lynn La/CNET