LG is typically more known for its consumer-level handsets like the LG Voyager and the LG Chocolate. So it was a pleasant surprise to us when we found out LG was partnering with Sprint to come up with the LG LX400, one of the first phones to support QChat, a push-to-talk technology that can be used with Nextel's Direct Connect even over a CDMA network. This means the LX400 is primarily built for business and enterprise use, but features like Bluetooth, GPS, mobile e-mail, and a megapixel camera could prove useful in and out of the workplace. The LX400 is available for $79.99 with a new two-year service agreement and a $50 rebate.
Unlike most push-to-talk phones, the LX400's design is not lacking in style. We're quite pleased with its deep red hue and sharp, tapered look. Measuring 3.5 inches long by 1.9 inches wide by 0.82 inch thick, the LX400 feels solid in the hand and won't weigh you down at around 3.2 ounces.
A rather big speaker grille sits prominently on the front of the phone. Underneath that is a 1-inch 65,000 color external display that shows the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID. You can also use the external display as a self-portrait camera viewfinder. You can adjust its screensaver and clock style, but nothing else. At the bottom front of the phone is a camera lens. The push-to-talk/Direct Connect key, volume rocker, and charger jack sits on the left spine, while the headset jack and dedicated camera key is on the right. On top of the phone are a Direct Connect speaker button that toggles the speaker on and off during a push-to-talk connection. There's also a Stop button with several functions: ending a Direct Connect call, pulling up recent call history when in idle mode, and allowing you to make a voice call when the phone is closed.
When you open the phone, you'll find a 262,144 color display that displays images and graphics with sharp and clear detail. You can adjust the backlight timer, skins, dialing font, foregrounds, plus the animation on the screen whenever there's an incoming call. The menu is the standard Sprint grid style interface and is easy to use. You also have the option of arranging the menu in a list style.
Underneath the display is the navigation array, which consists of two soft keys, a dedicated speakerphone key, a dedicated new text message key, plus a four-way toggle with a middle Menu/OK key. The four-way toggle can also be mapped to four user-defined shortcuts. There's the usual Talk, Back, and End/Power keys. The keys are all rather flat to the surface of the phone, but there are slight beveled edges in between each key to help with dialing and texting by feel.
The LX400 has a 600-entry phone book, with room in each entry for seven numbers, an e-mail address, a memo, a URL, and an IM name. You can organize them into caller groups, or pair them with a photo for caller ID, or one of 14 polyphonic ringtones. Other essentials include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calculator, a tip calculator, a scheduler, a notepad, a world clock, and a unit converter. More advanced users will appreciate the Bluetooth, GPS assistance, a wireless Web browser, voice dialing and voice command support, a voice memo recorder, e-mail, and instant messaging.
The big standout feature of the LG LX400 is that it's one of the first phones to offer QChat for push-to-talk communications. This means it's compatible with Nextel's Direct Connect push-to-talk network. You'll have the ability to Group Connect, which lets you chat with up to 20 other Direct Connect users at the same time. You also have the option to create a customized caller group called Team DC, which allows nationwide group calling. There's a feature called Call Alert that sends a repeating alert to any other Nextel Direct Connect user letting them know you wish to connect (Call Alert Text will do it via text message).
Another nice feature on the LX400 is that it has a built-in 1.3-megapixel camera. You can take pictures in three resolutions (1,280x960, 640x480, and 320x240) and three quality settings. Other camera settings include brightness, white balance presets, color tone presets, an image enhancer, a self timer, and four shutter sounds (with a silent option). Photo quality was quite disappointing. Images had an orange overcast, with a lot of blurriness and pixelation. Camcorder quality was not much better, with jerkiness and blur, especially with fast moving video.
You can personalize the LX400 with a choice of wallpaper, graphics, screensavers, alert tones, and more. Games include demo versions of Brain Challenge, DChoc Cafe Solitaire, Pac-Mac/Ms. Pac-Man, Tetris, and a full version of Diner Dash. You can download more via Sprint's online store as well.
We tested the LG LX400 in San Francisco using Sprint's network. Call quality was excellent; voices sound natural and volume was nice and loud. There was little to no static or noise in the background, perhaps due to the LX400's promised noise reduction technology. Speakerphone quality was also good, with decent enough volume. That said, we still recommend speaking close to the mic as callers still reported some echo, which is typical in speakerphone mode. We also paired up the LX400 with the Plantronics Discovery 925 without a problem.
The LX400 has a rated battery life of 5 hours talk time. Our tests revealed a talk time of 4 hours and 32 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the LX400 has a digital SAR rating of 0.765 watt per kilogram.