The GW620 is available for free on a £22-per-month contract, and you can also pick it up for around £270 SIM-free.
We like to think positive here at CNET Towers, so let's start with the good stuff. If you've got a short attention span, don't worry -- this part will be over quickly.
The GW620 has a slide-out keyboard, and it's not bad. The keys are pretty big for a phone, the layout has been judged well, and there's a pleasing little click when you press each button. When you compare this phone to the host of Android-powered handsets out there that only have virtual keyboards, it provides an effective reminder of just how handy a physical keyboard can be. The keyboard does make the GW620 rather on the chubby side, but it won't prevent you from shoving the phone in your pocket.
The GW620 runs on Google's Android operating system, which means this is a smart phone with plenty of brains. You'll get access to great Gmail and Google Maps applications, as well as heaps more from the Android Market -- and most apps are free.
But this particular version of the little green robot smells slightly stale. Indeed, the GW620 packs version 1.5 of the OS. The newest Android phones are currently rocking version 2.1, so you won't be flaunting the GW620 at your local 'droid-hacking convention, unless you enjoy being the subject of scathing geek taunts. It's still a very good OS, but you'll miss out on some of the newer features. Instead of native Exchange support, for example, you'll have to use one of the pre-loaded apps to check your Outlook email. You'll also miss out on some apps which don't support Android 1.5.
Messing with a good
We love HTC's Sense user-interface skin, as seen on the Hero, as it makes Android somewhat slicker and shinier, but we're not so happy with LG's attempt. You have two options when it comes to the GW620's home screen -- the standard Android implementation or LG's own version. But even if you opt for the standard Android version, you're still treated to a mixed bag of custom, iPhone-inspired LG icons, along with the default icons, and the result is messy. Seeing those rounded, iPhone-like squares on the face of an Android phone is just plain wrong.
As for LG's home screen, we don't think it's sufficiently different to be worth bothering with, although we like the fact that the menu allows you to group icons together as you wish, so you can group the calendar and radio functions together under the multimedia heading, for example.
LG has also ditched the plethora of physical buttons traditionally found on Android phones. There are touch-sensitive home and back buttons, and a large menu button that sits where the trackball or five-way function button is usually found. The menu button even looks like it could be a trackpad of some kind, so we found it took a fair amount of getting used to, but, if you've never used another Android phone, you may not care.
Stuck on the Web
LG has also tweaked the Android Web browser slightly, with a sliding, see-through menu that pops in from the side to give you access to the browser's functions. This feature reminded us of some of the best mobile browsers we've tested. It doesn't look pretty, but it's handy to have, although we sometimes beckoned it accidentally while scrolling around.
The Web browser does a good job of rendering Internet pages and displaying them on the 76mm (3-inch) screen. There's no Flash support, but the browser is excellent compared to that of similar-looking phones that aren't powered by the Android OS, such as the Samsung Genio Slide.
The GW620's touchscreen is of the resistive kind. This helps keep the cost down but the resistive screen isn't as bright and responsive as the capacitive type seen on the iPhone, for example. You'll need to apply a fingernail or firm pressure to make the phone do your bidding. But, as resistive screens go, this one isn't bad.
Unfortunately, the resistive touchscreen feels like a bad match for the touch-sensitive home and back buttons, and it doesn't help with the phone's occasional sluggishness either. Overall, we thought the phone felt numb and dull, unless we were using the keyboard.
With its low price tag, the GW620 really aspires to be a phone for youth folk, so you've got to expect some social-networking gravy to have been poured all over it. Indeed, the GW620 has an app, SNS, which brings together updates from Facebook and Twitter. But SNS is nothing special, especially compared with the alternatives available from the App Market. There's too much wasted space in this app, and you can only see a few status updates at a time, which isn't very useful if you've got tonnes coming in each day.
The GW620's 5-megapixel camera takes decent snaps, although the time between pressing the shutter button and capturing a photo seems like an eternity. The camera is also slow to write photos to the memory, so this isn't a phone for capturing a candid moment. The LED photo light proved welcome when we needed more brightness, though, and there are numerous camera options, including a face-recognition feature.
There's plenty of room for your snaps on a microSD card. There's also a good selection of options for sharing your photos with social-networking sites, and the Wi-Fi and HSDPA connectivity will keep uploads speedy.
There are two situations in which we'd recommend the LG InTouch Max GW620: when you absolutely must have a Qwerty keyboard on your Android phone, or when you're skint. The keyboard and the relatively low price are the biggest strengths of the GW620, but the phone is let down by the resistive touchscreen, unresponsive menu keys, and awkward attempts at tweaking the Android OS.
Edited by Charles Kloet