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LG Envoy II (U.S. Cellular) review: Subpar specs in a subpar performer

The photo quality was not only poor, but much worse than you get from other 1.3-megapixel shooters, like the one in the Cosmos 3. Not only were colors muted and washed out, but edges were blurry and ill-defined, and objects were extremely out of focus.

LG Envoy II - outdoor
Despite my having held the camera as still as possible, this amply lit outdoor photo is out of focus. Lynn La/CNET
LG Envoy II - indoor
Though the CNET carpet is easy to see, this picture is still blurry and muted. Lynn La/CNET

LG Envoy II - SSI
In our standard studio shot, the white background is an unpleasant shade of brown and yellow. James Martin/CNET

I tested the handset here in San Francisco, and call quality was respectable, though not the clearest I've heard on a feature phone. Though none of my calls dropped and audio didn't cut in and out, voices sounded muffled and dampened, and I could hear a bit of static with every word. Granted, it wasn't enough to prevent me from hearing what was being said, and it wasn't distracting, but it did reduce the call quality. Furthermore, the maximum volume for the speaker phone could stand to be a lot louder. I had to remain pretty close to the Envoy II in order to hear my friend speak.

I was told I could be heard clearly, though I did sound a bit flat. My friend even commented that I sounded a little nasal as well.

LG Envoy II (U.S. Cellular) call quality sample

Listen now:

When it comes to Web browsing, the phone is understandably slow. It takes anywhere from 8 to 10 seconds to load a skeletal version of a Web page, and opening up the browser in the first place takes even longer. In the same vein, the camera is also sluggish. You'll need to hold the phone still for a few seconds after snapping a picture to prevent motion blur, and it takes about 1 to 2 seconds to fire up the camera.

The Envoy II has a 950mAh battery that has a reported talk time of 5 hours and a standby time of 12.5 days. During our battery drain test, it lasted 7.07 hours for talk-time. Anecdotally, the device has solid battery life, lasting several days (under minimal usage) without a charge. According to FCC radiation standards, the handset has a digital SAR rating of 1.15 W/kg.

Feature phones don't have top-notch specs, but the Envoy II is so lacking with its offerings that it's hard to imagine why one would pick it over U.S. Cellular's more stylish Chrono 2. The Chrono 2 has a bigger battery, your standard 3.5mm headphone jack, and 1GB of internal memory. And best of all? It's $20 cheaper than the Envoy II with contract.

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