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LG Enact (Verizon Wireless) review: Dirt-cheap slider marred by slow speeds

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MSRP: $349.99

The Good The reasonably priced LG Enact has 4G LTE, a useful and comfortable sliding keyboard, and an optional user interface for smartphone beginners.

The Bad Slow internal speeds and a mediocre camera tarnish the handset's otherwise reliable performance.

The Bottom Line Verizon's budget-conscious QWERTY lovers should consider the Enact, but if cost isn't an issue, the Motorola Droid 4 is the better phone.

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7.3 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7

Outfitted with a generously spaced five-row keyboard, the LG Enact Android smartphone is a great device for quick-type message artists who aren't looking to spend an arm and a leg. In fact, with its $19.99 on-contract sticker price, the handset is a downright bargain.

In addition, the 4G LTE-enabled Enact features a simplified Starter Mode user interface option, which allows Android neophytes to navigate their way around the phone without feeling too overwhelmed.

But, as always, with a low price comes some drawbacks. Namely, the handset can lag at times, and don't expect to book any studio time with its ho-hum 5-megapixel camera.

That being said, you can opt for more expensive QWERTY handsets from Verizon (like the Motorola Droid 4). However, at its current price, the Enact stands on solid ground as a high-value Android smartphone.

Small but sturdy, the LG Enact is a compact device that measures 4.37 inches tall and 2.06 inches wide. It's comfortable to hold in one hand, but at 6 ounces, its weightiness is immediately noticeable. Furthermore, because it is a slider handset, it does have a thick (0.62-inch) profile that feels snug or bulky in pockets of jeans.

On the left are a Micro-USB and a volume rocker that's texturized with a dimple pattern. This makes it easy to distinguish just by touch. Up top is a 3.5mm headphone jack and on the right is a sleep/power button.

The back houses a 5-megapixel camera with an LED flash and a small audio speaker designated by two small slits on the right side. A small indentation at the bottom edge allows you to pry off the battery door with your fingernail. Once removed, you'll gain access to the 2,460mAh battery, SIM card slot, and a microSD card slot that's expandable up to 64GB.

LG Enact (keyboard)
The Enact features a spacious five-row sliding keyboard. James Martin/CNET

As for the 4-inch WVGA display, it's topped with Corning Gorilla Glass and has a 800x400-pixel resolution. The touch screen is responsive and feels rather slick. It accurately displayed a white swatch, but I could see a bit of speckling against the screen. In addition to menu icons, text also looked clear, but there were times when a small, serif typeface showed a notable amount of aliasing around the edges of letters. Above the display is a VGA camera and below are four hot keys (back, home, recent apps, and settings) that glow when in use.

Though the smartphone is rather petite, its five-row sliding keyboard beneath is generously sized and spaced. It's also easy to push out and in, due to the sturdy snapping mechanism. The keys were not so flush that they were difficult to feel out, nor were they so bulbous that it looked awkward. Each button took very little effort to press and I like how the space bar in particular is so wide. Included in the keyboard are four navigational keys, shortcut keys to turn on vibrate, and a launch button to open a memo app. There are also PC-esque functions you can carry out. For instance, if you press down the "fn" button, followed by either the letters A, C, or V, you will be able to select all, copy, or paste text, respectively.

Software features
Although the Enact doesn't run on the most recent OS, its Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean version still brings plenty of features, such as Google Now, which you can launch by long-pressing the home key. It also comes with Chrome, Gmail, Plus, Local, Maps with Navigation, Messenger, Search, Talk, and YouTube. The Google Play stores for Books, Magazines, Movies & TV, and Music are included as well.

The device is overlaid with LG's user interface, the Optimus UI 3.0, and comes with a few of LG's signature software features. These include the option to customize certain app icons; QuickMemo, which lets you jot down quick notes or sketches directly over images onscreen; and QSlide 2.0, a multitasking function that you can use to view and resize apps (like the calculator and video player) while using other apps or viewing the home screen.

LG Enact (screenshots)
The multitasking function QSlide 2.0 (left) and the Starter Mode UI. Lynn La/CNET

Also included is VuTalk, which lets you create annotations on documents and photos while sharing it in real time with another VuTalk-enabled handset through either a network or Wi-Fi connection, and Smart screen, a feature that keeps the display on as long as it senses you are looking at it.

As a keyboard phone, the Enact features a function LG calls Quality Communicator. Essentially, its a notepad app that launches any time you start typing on the physical keyboard. You can share what you wrote across different apps and platforms, attach photos, and format lists.

In addition, because the device is aimed at first-time smartphone users, the handset has two UI options: Starter and Standard. Tucked in the Settings menu under "mode change," the Starter UI has a more simplified design. The home screen saves on search time, and puts favorite contacts, a few choice apps, and setting options like brightness front and center for easy access.

LG Enact (Quality Communicator)
True story. Also, you can share your memos via the apps listed below the text. Lynn La/CNET

Verizon threw in a bunch of its own apps too, like Accessories, where you can shop for mobile accessories; My Verizon Mobile, which lets you check your data use and minutes; Verizon Tones music and media store; the video portal, Viewdini; and an app for video calling that just prompts you to download either ooVoo or Tango. The carrier also included apps for setting up visual voice mail and your mobile hot spot, its branded navigating app, and VZ Security.

There are also basic task-management apps, such as an alarm clock, a calculator, a calendar, a dictionary, a native e-mail client, a memo pad, two video editors, a voice recorder, a weather app, and a voice dialer.

Other apps include several Amazon apps (the store itself, Kindle, MP3, its app store, and Audible), NFL Mobile, the mobile office suite Polaris Office 4, a language translator, a gaming portal, two content-sharing apps (FileShare and SmartShare), Slacker Radio, a help app, and the IMDB movie database app. Lastly, you'll also get Bluetooth 4.0 and 8GB of internal storage.

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