LG F9200 (AT&T) review: LG F9200 (AT&T)

LG F9200 (AT&T)

Nicole Lee

Nicole Lee

Former Editor

Nicole Lee is a senior associate editor for CNET, covering cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, and all things mobile. She's also a fan of comic books, video games, and of course, shiny gadgets.

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6 min read


LG F9200 (AT&T)

The Good

The LG F9200 has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, an attractive design, user-friendly navigation, a camera, and a bright, colorful screen.

The Bad

The LG F9200's keypad is a bit difficult to dial by feel, and the small, flat buttons on the QWERTY keyboard are not as intuitive as we'd like. The limited phone memory and the standby battery life are also disappointing.

The Bottom Line

The LG F9200 is an attractive phone with a sliding QWERTY keyboard that's great for texting, and it has a camera to boot. We only wished the keyboard were easier to use.
LG F9200
At first glance, the LG F9200 for Cingular looks like a simple update to the LG F9100, yet styled in a different color. Like its predecessor, the F9200 is dubbed an instant-messaging phone, and it comes with a hidden QWERTY keyboard. But the similarities end there, as the newer model makes the keyboard much more useful. Not only can you use it to type text messages, but you also can use the keyboard to edit your phone book and send e-mails--two features not available on the earlier model. Overall, we're impressed with the F9200; the dial-pad layout and the pearly white color scheme are attractive, and the sliding QWERTY keyboard is sleek. We only wish the keyboard were easier to use, as its keys are much too small and flat. That said, we recommend the LG F9200 to anyone who wants a phone (and not a smart phone) with the flexibility of a QWERTY keyboard for messaging. It retails for $149.99, but after a mail-in rebate and a two-year contract, you can get it for $99.99. Despite the LG F9200's bulk (4.34 by 1.97 by 0.97 inches; 4.72 ounces), its pearly white body, silvery keypad, and navy-blue accents still make it an attractive phone. Besides, it's bulky for a reason. Although it may look like an ordinary candy bar phone at first glance, the LG F9200 hides a full QWERTY keyboard behind the front face. To expose it, just slide open the front face to the left lengthwise, then position the phone horizontally in order to text. Holding the phone this way is comfortable enough, though we had issues with the feel of the individual keys (more below). Overall, however, the phone's heft feels nice in the hand and comfortable when held against the ear. That said, it didn't fit well in our jeans pocket, and the slider mechanism seemed loose. On the left spine is the volume rocker, and there's a camera button and an earphone jack on the right. A camera lens and a self-portrait mirror are located on the back.

The LG F9200 is far from compact.

The main 1.75-inch-diagonal display (128x160 pixels; eight lines) does its job but is nothing to write home about. It has a standard 65,000-color palette that's easy enough to read indoors, but since it has a bit of a washed-out effect, it's hard on the eyes when you're outdoors in sunlight. The contrast and the backlighting time can be changed, but the brightness and the font size can't. When the QWERTY keyboard is slid out, the orientation of the screen automatically switches from portrait to landscape.

Below the LG F9200's screen are the navigation controls. There are two large soft keys on either side of a five-way navigation toggle. The two soft keys default to the menu and the address book when on the main screen. The navigation toggle also acts as a shortcut to text messages, instant messaging, the contacts list, and the My Stuff folder, which is a hodgepodge menu that includes games, graphics, and organizational tools. Underneath the navigation keys are the Talk button, the Cancel button, and the End/power button. There are also two soft keys along the right of the display that are activated when the QWERTY keyboard is slid out; in landscape mode, the keys are now on the display's bottom edge.

The LG F9200's dial pad has a unique geometric shape that is at once curved and angular and results in a pretty cool design. The keys are also beveled, which makes for easier dialing. Although we could dial by feel, the dial pad's unusual shape sometimes had us second-guessing which key we pressed. The dial pad's keys are illuminated in blue when activated.

The LG F9200's keyboard is useful but not very user-friendly.

The one big disappointment with the LG F9200 is, ironically enough, its biggest feature: the QWERTY keyboard. While we were excited to finally have a well-designed phone that has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, we were ultimately disappointed with the flat, small keys and the tricky keyboard controls. To the left of the QWERTY keys is the symbol button, a key with a horizontal line that acts as the function button for typing numbers and punctuation marks, as well as the shift key. As mentioned, the latter two controls were tricky to use, as in order to access basic characters such as a period or a comma, we had to press the function or symbol buttons each time. What's more, the flat, small keys made it a bit difficult to text; we imagine it would be even harder if you had large hands. But as quirky as the keyboard is, it is still far easier to text using it than via the dial pad. There's also a spacebar, as well as designated Backspace and return keys.

The LG F9200 can store up to 255 contacts in the address book, and each contact can store up to three phone numbers, one e-mail address, and a memo. You can assign contacts a photo for picture caller ID or organize them into caller groups. Unfortunately, only groups can be paired with a ring tone; you get 10 polyphonic (64-chord) tones and 11 monophonic tones. As for organizational features, they include an alarm clock, a calendar, 30-second voice memos, a calculator, a notepad, a world clock, a unit converter, and a tip calculator. Other features include text and multimedia messaging, instant messaging (AOL, Yahoo, and ICQ), Cingular's Media Net browser, e-mail support (includes Yahoo, Hotmail, and MSN), voice dialing, and a vibrate mode.

The LG F9200 has a mirror for taking self-portraits.

The camera included with the LG F9200 is VGA, which is pretty mediocre as far as camera phones go. However, it comes with a slew of options that helps make the snapshots a bit more palatable. You get four image resolutions (128x160, 160x120, 320x240, and 640x480), and you can control the brightness, the white balance (Auto, Daylight, Incandescent, Cloudy, and Fluorescent) and the image effects (Color, Sepia, and Mono). There's also a self-timer of 3 or 10 seconds; a 4X zoom; and a multishot feature that lets you take up to three photos at once. Plus, you can choose from one of three different shutter sounds or just turn it off. A flash was the only thing we missed. Once saved, the photos can be used as wallpaper, sent to friends via a multimedia message or set as a picture caller ID, as mentioned above. Another nice feature is that it lets you check the remaining phone memory to gauge how many more pictures you can take. This is a good thing, since the phone comes with a paltry 8K of memory and doesn't have an expanded memory slot. For a VGA camera, photo quality was solid; although pictures were a bit dark, image definition was sharp, and color quality was acceptable.

The LG F9200 has decent photo quality for a VGA phone.

The LG F9200 comes with Java (J2ME) support for games and applications, and a game called Action in Life already is preloaded; you can, of course, purchase and download more games if you feel like it. You can personalize the phone with one of five included varieties of wallpaper or a screensaver that displays the current time, or you can switch to a list view of the menu, as opposed to the traditional icon view. As usual, you can purchase and download additional wallpaper, screensavers, ring tones, and graphics from Cingular via the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser.

We tested the dual-band, dual-mode (GSM 850/1900; GPRS) LG F9200 in San Francisco on Cingular Wireless. The phone performed well; callers heard us loud and clear and vice versa. Callers said they could tell we were on a cell phone, and windy conditions muffled our voice a bit, but that didn't deter from the quality of the call. The Media Net portal was predictably poky, and since we were limited to sites that weren't graphic intensive and media rich, the browser was underwhelming, to say the least.

LG claims the F9200 has up to 4 hours of talk time and up to 12 days of standby time. In our tests, we doubled the talk time to an impressive 8 hours but got only 6.5 days of standby time. According to FCC radiation tests, the LG F9200 has a digital SAR rating of 0.89 watts per kilogram.


LG F9200 (AT&T)

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 7
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