Despite its name, the LG Extravert won't be the life of a party. As a feature phone, of course, it won't impress anyone who has the latest smartphone complete with all the bells and whistles. However, if you belong to a crowd that has an affinity for simple devices that can do their job dependably, this handset will do the trick.
With its 2.8-inch screen, slideout QWERTY keyboard, and 2-megapixel camera, the Extravert has all the basics covered. There are also some surprising features thrown in, like customizable widgets, a one-touch voice recorder, and interesting preloaded apps.
The device is available now for Verizon customers for $49.99 after you sign a two-year contract. And if you're new to the network, you can get it for free.
The compact LG Extravert and measures 4.13 inches tall, 2.09 inches wide, and 0.62 inches thick. At only 4.3 ounces, it's light and fits well in the hand. Because of its petite build, it slips easily in a jeans pocket. However, due to the keyboard lending some extra thickness, it does feel bulky at times.
The handset's backing has a smooth plastic finish that has several grooves running across it for aesthetics. Not only does this material make the phone feel cheap, but also it makes it hard to grip. Especially when I tried pushing the keyboard out with one hand; the device would easily slip away from my fingers.
On the left side of the phone is a Micro-USB port that covered by an attached door. Above that is a volume rocker. Up top is the sleep/lock button. Keep in mind that this is not the same thing as the power button. Next to it is a 3.5mm headphone jack. To the right of the handset is a shortcut key to access the camera.
On the back of the device is the 2-megapixel camera. To the right of it are a few open holes for the output speaker. On the bottom, there's a small indent, which you can use to pry off the backing. Once it's off, you'll see the lithium-polymer 950 mAh battery. To the right of the battery is the microSD card slot, which holds cards up to 32GB.
The Extravert has a 2.8-inch WQVGA touch screen. With a resolution of only 400x240 pixels, and the ability to display up to 262,000 colors, don't expect to see images with smooth edges and rich color. Because menu icons and widgets are simple, however, those graphics appear well displayed and crisp.
The screen itself isn't very responsive, and it was frustrating when I tried to swipe through the different pages of the homescreen. Dragging widgets around on the homescreen to customize is a pain; because the screen isn't very sensitive and doesn't register touch well, moving items around is difficult.
Below the display are three small buttons. On the right is a send key, which brings up your call log. (I'd prefer a call button that'll bring up the phone keypad instead.) In the middle is a voice and back button. If you're on the homescreen and press the button once, the voice command feature pops up. Hold it down for a few seconds and you can begin recording audio. If you're in an application and you press the same button though, it'll go to the prior menu page. The right button is the end button, which takes you to the homescreen and doubles as the power button when you press it down for a few seconds.
The QWERTY keyboard underneath the device's display has four rows of keys that light up when in use. In addition to that, there are four navigational arrows. There are a few shortcut keys as well. When you're at the homescreen, the shift key takes you to texting, and the spacebar opens up a shortcut to your social-networking sites.
The sliding mechanism of the keyboard is sturdy and snappy. Of all the QWERTY handsets I've dealt with, I liked this one the best so far. The keys are well spaced out, appropriately sized, and easy to press. Keep in mind I have small hands, so somebody with larger fingers won't have as easy of a time texting and typing.
The LG Extravert runs on a 1.9GHz processor and comes with some basic task management features. Under the Tools icon, you can access the device's built-in voice command feature, tip and standard calculators, a calendar, an alarm clock, a phone book (that can hold up to a 1000 contacts), a stop watch, a world clock, and a notepad.
Some nifty extras include a simple graphing feature included in the calculator, an "eco-calculator," which lets you figure out your carbon dioxide emissions while walking or biking (random, I know), and a rudimentary drawing pad. Although it's not easy to use because of the unresponsive screen, the pad does give you five different stroke thicknesses and eight color options.
There's also Bluetooth 3.0, a music player, and text, picture, video, and voice messaging. For texting, you can still type without sliding out the keyboard, though the touch pad will be in a condensed setting (where three letters share a key. Also included is a My Verizon app, which lets you quickly access your account and plan information, and a Media Center that enables you to buy ringtones and wallpaper.
Under the app icon, you can purchase games and apps. The handset is already preloaded with Pac-Man and Poker. Other apps include Mobile IM, V Cast Tones to buy and load more ringtones, and Daily Scoop, which gives you info about local daily deals.
Again, with feature phones like the Extravert, a data plan is not required. If you get one, though, you're able to use the on-board Opera Mini Web browser. The device also has a mobile e-mail client, where you can add your Microsoft Exchange, Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, or AOL account.
The homescreen has three pages: one for messages, another for your favorite media files, and the main page, which lets you place widgets for your alarm clock, calendar, memo pad, or a bunch of other task management apps. Though there isn't room to display all the shortcuts, you can drag and drop these widgets wherever you like on the screen, much like how you do on an Android device. A small tab with a star icon in the corner lets you access the rest of your widgets not on display, as well as your top contacts. A dock at the bottom of the screen gives you one-touch access to your mail, phone, apps, and address book.
The handset's 2-megapixel camera features a brightness meter and a settings menu where you can customize your photo options, which include: five white balance choices (auto, sunny, cloudy, fluorescent, and glow); a self-timer; a night-mode toggle; four resolution settings that range from 1,600x1,200 pixels to 320x240; and five color modes (normal, negative, aqua, sepia, and black-and-white).
The same white balance options, color modes, and brightness meter are seen in video recording as well. In addition, users can also customize their video quality (choosing between high, medium, and low); recording duration (choosing "for send" lets you record a 15 second video, choosing "to save" enables you to initially record an 18 minute video, but as internal memory gets eaten up, this max time lowers); and video resolution (either 176x144 or 320x240 pixels).
I tested the dual-band (CDMA 800) LG Extravert in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless' services. Call quality and connection were strong. I didn't experience any dropped calls, extraneous buzzing, or audio clipping in and out. When I talked to people while I was both indoors and outdoors, my friends sounded loud and clear. Friends told me that I could be heard fine and that my volume was ample.
Listen now: LG Extravert call quality sample
For a 2-megapixel camera, the photo quality was adequate enough. Outdoor pictures weren't blurry, per se (perhaps it was because I had to keep the handset very still after I clicked the shutter); colors bled into one another and edges weren't crisp. There's no autofocus, either, so bright whites, like clouds in the sky, washed out. Indoor shots looked grainy, and colors weren't as vibrant as in real life, but objects weren't impossible to distinguish.
The quality of the videos is mediocre, but that's expected from a low-spec camera. Recordings were heavily pixelated, and voices sounded tinny and harsh. Feedback lagged behind my moving of the camera, but not significantly so. Since there was no focusing feature, bright hues were washed out, and it was hard to distinguish dark or black objects.
Like most feature devices running on Verizon's EV-DO Rev. 0 technology, browsing the Web wasn't quick by any measure. However, because Web pages are modified to load with their coding stripped away of complex graphics and images, some sites loaded in a reasonably amount of time. Our CNET mobile site took an average of 10 seconds, and The New York Times mobile site took 11 seconds. ESPN's mobile site loaded in 8 seconds. Links to these two publication's full sites were not available. Watching YouTube was unpleasant. In addition to recorded video shot on the handset, YouTube videos cannot play the full area of the display, and it only occupies about one fifth of the screen. This means I had to watch the trailer for "The Dark Knight Rises" on an area as large as a postage stamp.
During our battery drain tests, the Extravert lasted 6.6 hours. Anecdotally, it had a solid battery life. It doesn't do much to begin with to drain the usage time anyway, but it was nice to only lose one battery notch after spending most of the day trudging through the Web, talking to my friends, and watching videos large enough for an ant-size drive-in. According to FCC radiation tests, the phone has a digital SAR rating of 0.96W/kg.
The LG Extravert from Verizon Wireless is feature device worth considering. I like it slightly better than the Pantech Hotshot due to its ease of use. Putting the annoyingly unresponsive touch screen and design flaws aside, the keyboard is spacious, the call quality is solid, and the customization options are nifty. And after you sign a two-year contract, you can get it for the reasonable price of $50 (or free, if you're new to Verizon).