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LG CU515 review: LG CU515

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The Good The LG CU515 offers a simple, user-friendly design, decent call quality, and a solid feature set that includes 3.5G support, Push to Talk, stereo Bluetooth, and world phone capability.

The Bad The LG CU515 has a disappointing external display and it lacks a camera flash and voice dialing. Photo and streaming video quality were uneven.

The Bottom Line The LG CU515 is great for making calls, but it's not AT&T's best cell phone for multimedia and wireless broadband use.

7.3 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7

Though LG's CDMA cell phones like the Rumor and the Voyager tend to get all the glory (at least in the United States), the manufacturer offers quality GSM handsets, as well. You won't find any at T-Mobile, but AT&T sells the

With its minimalist design and clean lines, the CU515 looks somewhat like Sprint's LG Muziq. Sure, the CU515 lacks its predecessor's external music controls, but the two handsets are roughly the same size (3.78 inches by 1.95 inches by 0.72 inch vs. 3.8 inches by 1.95 inches by 0.61 inch). The CU515 is a tad heavier (3.36 ounces vs. 3.14 ounces), but it still makes for a comfortable feel in the hand and it slips easily into a pocket. As with the Muziq, the CU515's unassuming design doesn't quite reflect the high-end features inside. But for some people, that's quite all right. The CU515 is available in black (our review model) or plum.

Front and center is the CU515's externa,ll display. It's not quite what we were hoping for on a phone of this caliber; not only is it rather small (0.98 inch, 96x64 pixels) but it's also monochrome, neither of which is ideal on a megapixel camera phone. The display won't function as a viewfinder for self-portraits and it doesn't support photo caller ID. It does show the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and numeric caller ID, but only the brightness level is adjustable. Completing the exterior of the phone are a volume rocker and the PTT button on the left spine while the microSD card slot and headset/charger jack sit on the right spine. The speakerphone button on the top of the rear face is a unique feature. Though we like that it lets us easily activate the speakerphone when we're on a call, we'd instead prefer to find such a control on the phone's side.

Fortunately, the CU515 offers a better interior display. At 2 inches (176x220 pixels), the screen is a decent size and its 262,000-color resolution makes it pleasing to the eye. Colors were bright and the graphics and animations were vibrant. The simple, user-friendly menus also looked good, and it performed nicely as a viewfinder for the camera. You can change the display's backlight time, brightness, and the dialing font size and color.

Below the screen is the well-designed navigation array, which closely resembles the LG Muziq. The arrangement is spacious, and although the controls are flat with the surface of the phone, they're tactile and easy to use by feel. There's a four-way toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, a camera shortcut, a Clear control, and the Talk and End/Power button. There's also a button for opening a multitask menu, and the toggle doubles as a shortcut to the Messaging menu, the instant messaging application, your Contacts list, and the My Stuff folder. The OK button in the middle of the toggle activates the Web browser when the phone is in standby mode; to open the main menu you have to use the left soft key instead.

The keypad buttons also resemble those on the Muziq. They're also flat with the surface of the phone, but their large size makes them easy to use. We avoided misdials, but even quick texters may need to look at the keys if they want to bang out a message. The numbers on the keys are larger, but the backlighting could be a tad brighter.

The CU515 has a 500-contact phone book. That's a tad small, but there's room in each entry for five phone numbers, two e-mail address, and notes (the SIM card holds an additional 250 names). You can save callers to groups or pair them with one of 10 polyphonic ringtones. You can assign your contacts a photo, as well, but keep in mind they won't show up on the external display. PTT contacts are organized in a separate list, where you can save up to 99 individual contacts and 30 groups.

Basic features on the LGCU515 include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calculator, a voice recorder, a calendar, a tip calculator, a world clock, a task list, a stop watch, and a unit converter. Two unusual applications are a date finder, which shows you the current date, a future target date, and number of days between the two, and a D-day counter, which acts like a countdown timer. Higher-end features include instant messaging, USB mass storage, e-mail, and stereo Bluetooth. Unfortunately, the CU515 doesn't support voice commands.

The CU515's camera lacks a flash.

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