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LG made its T-Mobile debut this year with three phones--the Sentio, the dLite, and finally, the LG GS170. Whereas the Sentio and dLite touted interesting design and multimedia features, the GS170 is a decidedly entry-level phone. Still, you do get a VGA camera, a speakerphone, and Bluetooth, and the call quality isn't bad either. The LG GS170 is available for free with a new two-year agreement.
The LG GS170's design is that of a basic rectangular flip phone with a simple plastic shell. At 3.6 inches long by 1.9 inches wide by 0.7 inch thick, the LG GS170 is a slim and compact with smooth tapered sides and rounded corners. The surface is made out of a soft touch material that makes the handset easier to grip. The GS170 is lightweight at 2.8 ounces. It's wrapped in red all around with hints of gray on the sides.
On the front of the phone is a 1.04-inch 96x64 pixel external display. It supports up to 65,000 colors and displays the usual date, time, battery life, and signal strength information plus caller ID. There are no external camera controls, though, so you won't be able to use it as a self-portrait viewfinder. Above the external display is the camera lens. On the left side is the volume rocker whereas the Micro-USB charging port is on the right spine. It has a nice sturdy hinge as well.
The rather small (1.8-inch) TFT display supports a 176x220 pixel resolution and 262,000 colors. We were fairly impressed by the interface--the menu icons are colorful, and there's even a three-dimensional cube rotation as a transition between menus. Still, the display isn't as sharp as we would like--graphics looked a little jagged and blurry on the edges. You can adjust the look of the home screen, the handset theme, the menu style, the color of the dialing font, the font size, and the backlight time.
The navigation array consists of two soft keys, a messaging key, a camera key, and a square D-pad with a middle confirmation key. On standby mode, the D-pad corresponds to shortcuts to call history, audio postcards, the contacts list, and a list of more customizable shortcuts. The D-pad is a little flat compared to the other keys, but it had enough texture that we could still navigate by feel.
Under the navigation array are the Send key, the Back key, and the End/Power key, followed by the number keypad. Though the keys look flat, there are enough dips and curves that still make it easy to use. The keypad is quite roomy, and the keys themselves are a nice size.
The LG GS170 doesn't have a lot of features, but it does have a 1,000-entry phone book with room in each entry for six numbers, an e-mail address, a birthday, company name, job title, and memo. You can add an image for photo caller ID, and one of 22 default sounds as ringtones. You can use your own MP3s as ringtones, too.
Basic features include text and multimedia messaging, a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, audio postcards, a calendar, an alarm clock, a tasks list, notes, secret notes (password-protected), a calculator, a stopwatch, a unit converter, a world clock, and a date finder. You also get a voice recorder, Bluetooth, and a basic WAP browser. However, the Bluetooth on the GS170 does not support A2DP stereo.
There isn't a dedicated music player app per se, but you can load songs onto the phone, which are then accessible via the Sounds folder. So though you can play and pause music, you're not able to create a playlist or set songs on repeat and shuffle like on a music player.
The camera on the GS170 is very basic. It can only take pictures in two resolutions (640x480 and 320x240) and there are three image quality levels. Other settings include color effects, white balance presets, a night mode, a timer, a shot mode (normal and burst shot), and three shutter sounds plus a silent option. The photo quality is predictably poor. Images are horribly blurry and colors look muddy and overcast.
You can download wallpaper and ringtones from the T-Mobile mobile store if you're not satisfied with the default options. The GS170 doesn't come with any games or apps, but you can purchase and download them from the mobile store as well. You have to access the browser in order to get to the store.
We tested the LG GS170 in San Francisco using T-Mobile. We were very impressed with the call quality. Callers sounded very natural and crisp, with good volume as well.
On their end, callers said we sounded absolutely crystal clear, like that of a landline. They couldn't hear any static or hiss at all, and background noise was practically nonexistent in quiet situations. On speakerphone, they detected a bit more environmental sound, but it was still very good.
The LG GS170 has a rated battery life of 7.5 hours talk time and 23 days standby time. It has a tested talk time of 7 hours and 46 minutes. According to the FCC, it has a digital SAR of 0.91 watt per kilogram.