Thanks to the texting phenomenon sweeping the country, messaging phones are all the rage right now. From the Verizon Wireless Blitz to the Pantech Matrix, it looks like almost every national carrier has some kind of messaging-centric handset. Sprint has answered the call with a few of their own, and one of them is the unusual-looking LG Lotus. Sporting a square shape similar to the Blitz, it has a sleek and stylish design that is quite attractive. It also has high-end features like EV-DO and access to all of Sprint's 3G services. Perhaps the only niggling detail is its price-- the Lotus is $150 with a two-year service agreement. Sprint's other messaging phone, the Samsung Rant, offers the same features as the Lotus, but is $100 less. That said, the Lotus is certainly better designed, so it's your call on whether it's worth the extra money.
A recipient of the Red Dot Design Award, the design of the LG Lotus is what sets it apart from most other messaging phones. Sure the Verizon Wireless Blitz also has a square and compact shape, but the LG Lotus is not only small, it's slim and sleek as well. Measuring 3.3 inches wide by 2.4 inches tall by 0.7 inch thick, the Lotus is surprisingly chic despite its squat appearance. It comes in both textured purple and satin black, and both give the Lotus a nice sheen. The Lotus weighs around 3.7 ounces and has a soft-touch finish, giving it a comfortable feel in the hand.
Underneath the display is a thin silver strip that is actually home to three dedicated music player keys. They are the previous track, play/pause, and next track keys. You can hardly see them when the music player isn't activated, but when it is, the keys glow white. We appreciate that the keys are not touch-sensitive--unlike those of the LG Chocolate--but we wish there was some kind of texture difference between each key. Instead, the keys are completely flat and you need to look at what you're doing to make sure you're hitting the right one.
Right under the external music player keys are the Sprint logo, the camera lens, and the external speakers. To the left is the volume rocker and charger jack, while the right spine is home to a headset jack, a dedicated music player key, a dedicated camera key, and a microSD-card slot.
The Lotus comes with Sprint's new One Click navigation interface. This consists of eight shortcut tiles along the bottom of the home screen, and each tile can become any of 14 shortcuts to applications. You can even have a shortcut that leads to other shortcuts. As you flip through, you will get a small pop-up menu of the application's options. The Google tile, for example, pops up shortcuts to Google search, Google Maps, Gmail, and YouTube. You can also add a "bubble" to the home screen that either displays the latest headlines or your latest horoscope. We found the interface very intuitive and easy to use.
Underneath the display is the navigation array, which consists of two soft keys, a square toggle with middle Menu/OK key, a dedicated speakerphone key, a Back key, and the Talk and End/Power keys. Underneath that is a full QWERTY keyboard, complete with a dedicated Text messaging key. The QWERTY keyboard is one of the best we've ever tried on a messaging phone. The keys are well-spaced, and each key has a bubblelike texture that is raised above the surface of the phone. The navigation keys are also roomy and easy to press.