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LG InTouch Max GW620 review: LG InTouch Max GW620

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The Good Offers Android power at a low price; good physical Qwerty keyboard.

The Bad Relatively unresponsive resistive touchscreen; occasionally sluggish; inelegant tweaks to the Android user interface; runs on a fairly old version of Android.

The Bottom Line It's always good to see affordable Android smart phones, and the LG InTouch Max GW620 has a lovely Qwerty keyboard to boot. But its resistive touchscreen, out-of-date version of Android and occasional sluggishness reflect its low price

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6.5 Overall

LG has entered its own little battle 'bot into the Android fray, but the InTouch Max GW620 is no bone-crushing super phone. Rather, it's a bargain-basement effort that doesn't have much of an arsenal with which to shatter its bigger rivals into a thousand flaming fragments.

The GW620 is available for free on a £22-per-month contract, and you can also pick it up for around £270 SIM-free.  

On-board keyboard
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 provides a pleasant reminder of how useful a physical keyboard can actually be

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.

Retro robot
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.

A menu button that looks like a trackpad sits between touch-sensitive home and back buttons

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 thing
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.

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