LG EnV3 review: LG EnV3

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The Good The LG EnV3 has a slim and sleek appearance, with a spacious QWERTY keyboard, colorful dual displays, easy-to-use controls, plus it has updated features like a HTML Web browser and a 3.0-megapixel camera tricked out with special shot modes. Call quality is excellent as well.

The Bad The LG EnV3's number keypad is a little flat to the surface, and we would've preferred a faster way to enter URLs in the Web browser. Also, Visual Voice Mail and corporate e-mail support have monthly fees.

The Bottom Line The LG EnV3 has an impressive design and feature set that make it one of Verizon's top messaging phones.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8

The LG EnV2 was LG's first attempt at completely redesigning the look of the LG EnV. The previous Verizon LG messaging phones (the LG VX9800 and the LG EnV VX9900 respectively) were rather thick and chunky, while the EnV2 was slim, sleek, and much more compact. However, its feature set was a letdown, as it had almost the same features as the EnV VX9900. Not any longer with the LG EnV3. Though it looks almost identical to the LG EnV2, the EnV3 has a number of feature upgrades over its predecessor, like a 3.0-megapixel camera and a full HTML browser. This, combined with an improved keyboard layout, makes the EnV3 a great messaging phone for Verizon customers. The LG EnV3 will cost just as much as the LG EnV2: $129.99 with a two-year service agreement and a $50 mail-in rebate.

The LG EnV3 looks almost the same as the LG EnV2. It has a skinny and wide rectangular shape, a small external display, and a flat number keypad, all of which makes it look a little like a calculator. Measuring 4.11 inches long by 2.13 inches wide by 0.65 inch thick, the EnV3 is just a tiny bit taller than the EnV2, and it weighs in at 3.77 ounces, which is a little lighter than the EnV2's 4.23 ounces. The EnV3 feels comfortable in the hand, in both open and closed positions.

The LG EnV3 looks like a calculator from the front.

As we said, the external display is a very small 1.56-inch screen, with support for 65,000 colors and 160x96 pixels. It is bigger than the EnV2's 1.45 inch external display, though. Even though the screen is so small, we really liked how it looked--it looks colorful and vibrant, and it shows off the animated icons quite well. You won't get a full-grid menu interface in such a small screen, but the EnV3 does have a scrolling menu, where you can scroll through the more basic phone functions as well as the music player. For the more advanced applications such as the Web browser, e-mail, instant messaging, V Cast video, and VZ Navigator, you'll have to open up the phone for them to work--which is fine by us anyway, since you wouldn't want to see them on the tiny external display.

You can view the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and photo caller ID on the external display, plus you can see the currently playing track if the music player is activated. It also acts as a viewfinder for the camera. Since there's no self-portrait mirror, you can also make the external display your self-portrait viewfinder by turning on the Dual Display option in the camera settings, and then you can take a picture of yourself while holding the phone open, which can be a little awkward. You can adjust the backlight time and wallpaper of the external display.

Underneath the display is the navigation array, which looks a little different from the one on the EnV2. There's now a proper circular toggle in the middle instead of the simple up and down arrows, plus there's also a dedicated Contacts button, a Clear button that also acts as the voice command plus the voice recorder shortcut, and the Send and End/Power keys. In standby mode, the circular toggle also doubles as shortcuts for the My Music menu, the Bluetooth menu, the Messaging menu, and the photo gallery.

Underneath the array is a flat number keypad, which we found quite roomy despite the flat surface. The keys are divided with curved delineations, which adds a little bit of feel to the keypad, but there was still little to no texture difference between each key. We definitely wouldn't recommend dialing by feel because of that. Also note that you can choose to send a text message with the number keypad via T9 or the ABC method by pecking the letters out one by one, in case you don't feel like using the QWERTY keyboard.

On the left side of the EnV3 are the dedicated camera key and volume rocker, while the microSD card slot and 2.5mm headset jack are on the right. The charger jack is on the bottom, and the 3.0-megapixel camera lens is on the back, as is an LED flash.

The LG EnV3 opens up to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard.

Like the other EnV phones, the EnV3 flips open to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard. In fact, the EnV3 can be opened up all the way to 180 degrees, which is incidentally the only way you can access the aforementioned volume rocker and camera key. It also reveals a really nice 2.6-inch internal display, which is a little larger than the EnV2's 2.4-inch internal display. It supports 262,000 colors and 320x240 pixels, and it shows. The screen is bright and vibrant, and the images look colorful and sharp. You can adjust the backlight time, the font size and font type, the charging screen (what shows on the display when the phone is charging), display themes, the menu interface, and the brightness (though you can also set Auto Brightness as well).

Flanking both sides of the display are the stereo speakers, and directly underneath it are two soft keys. Underneath that is the full QWERTY keyboard, which we liked quite a bit. The keyboard is nice and spacious, the keys are raised above the surface, and each key has a nice give when pushed. There's a dedicated Favorites key for accessing your favorite contacts, a dedicated text messaging key, and of course, the typical Shift and Symbol keys. Thankfully, the EnV3 has the Space bar in the middle of the QWERTY keyboard, which is an improvement over the EnV2, which had space-bar buttons on the left and right of the keyboard. The 2, Q, W, 3, and S keys are blue to indicate video game controls.

As for the navigation array on the right, they consist of the Send and End/Power keys, a four-way square toggle, a middle OK key, the Clear key, and a dedicated speakerphone key. The up, left, and down directions on the four-way toggle can be mapped to three user-defined shortcuts, while the right leads to the My Shortcuts menu, which can also be customized with up to four shortcuts.

Another shortcut is a QWERTY keyboard shortcut, which lets you initiate a contacts search, a new text message, or a new note, simply by pressing any key on the QWERTY keyboard.

The LG EnV3 definitely has a number of improvements over the EnV2 in terms of features. Starting with the basics, the EnV3 has a roomy 1,000-entry phone book with room in each entry for five numbers, two e-mail addresses, and a street address. You can then organize your contacts into groups, pair them with a photo for caller ID, or one of 23 polyphonic ringtones. Other essentials include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, mobile instant messenger (AIM, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo), voice commands and dialing, a calendar, an alarm clock, a world clock, a notepad, a tip calculator, a voice memo recorder, and Bluetooth. Supported Bluetooth profiles include hands-free, dial-up networking, A2DP or stereo, phone-book access, basic printing, basic imaging, object push for vCard and vCalendar, and file transfer.

As a nice bonus, you can also add your social network e-mail address in the "Blogs" section in the Messaging menu. This means you can update your photos or videos in your Facebook or MySpace by just sending them to the appropriate e-mail address.

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