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 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 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 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.