In the past few years, LG has had a serious makeover, transforming itself from a cell phone nobody into a provider of reliable and often stylish handsets. The LG PM-225 is representative of many of the company's line for Sprint PCS: attractive but not stunning, not overloaded with features, yet with offerings that are well implemented. We like the in-call options and some of the more businesscentric features, but plenty of folks will be drawn to the personalization options. For a limited time, Sprint is offering this phone for $50 with a two-year service agreement. Otherwise, it's a bit pricey at $219. The LG PM-225 doesn't stray far from the formula of other flip phones for Sprint. In fact, minus the camera lens, it's a dead ringer for the LG VI-125, both inside and out. Housed in a silver and black casing, the handset measures 3.53 by 1.67 by 0.93 inches and weighs 3.35 ounces--pretty much an average size and weight. Like the VI-125 for Sprint, this handset features an internal antenna, allowing you to slip it into a pocket or a bag without worrying about breaking it.
The postage-stamp-size external display is a big improvement upon the monochrome screen on the LG VI-125. Supporting a bright 65,000 colors, the display shows the date, the time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID (where available). You can't change the backlighting time, but you can adjust the contrast and select the wallpaper. Above the screen, which functions as a camera viewfinder for taking self-portraits, is the camera lens and flash. With the cell phone in standby mode, you can set the flash to flicker when the LG is off.
The internal display measures 1.75 inches diagonally and supports 65,000 colors. Although it can be hard to see in direct light, it is fine for viewing photos and the simple menus, which come in two styles. You can change the font size, the contrast, and the backlighting, and you get a choice of four clock styles. We also like the dual-clock mode, which can show the time in two cities simultaneously.
The dial pad is nice and roomy--there's even room for a dedicated speakerphone button just above the 2 key--and the buttons are just slightly raised to aid in touch dialing. The blue backlighting is bright enough to see in the darkest rooms. Above the dial pad, you'll find the Talk, Back, and End buttons. Above that, the four navigation keys are user programmable, so you can create shortcuts to your most frequently accessed functions; however, the OK key in the middle of the navigation pad is permanently fixed on accessing camera features in standby mode. You'll also find soft keys on either side of the navigation pad, as well as a dedicated speakerphone key. The left spine features a volume rocker and a button for launching camera mode. Above them is the headset jack, but we found the rubber port cover could never close completely.The LG PM-225's feature list won't knock anyone's socks off, but what it does offer, it does well. The phone book holds up to 500 contacts, each of which can contain five phone numbers. You can also store up to 500 e-mail and Web addresses. The selection of in-call menu options is respectable: During a call, you can send a text message, set up a three-way call, or record up to 3 minutes of your conversation with the Record Voice Memo option. As for other features, you get a vibrate mode, 12 traditional and 18 polyphonic ring tones, text and multimedia messaging, a notepad, a calculator, an alarm clock, a scheduler, voice dialing, a world clock, and a tip calculator. The speakerphone is a great addition, but you can't turn it on before you make a call.
An Auto Answer feature answers incoming calls in car-kit/headset mode--a nice tool to use while driving. A feature called Abbreviated Dialing automatically calls a contact after you've entered the last four digits of that number. You set up Abbreviated Dialing by entering the area code and first three digits of a number. It's a solid feature for business users, since you can simply dial a four-digit extension to reach colleagues who share the same prefix.
The LG PM-225 is a camera phone, but the camera is only VGA quality, with resolutions of 640x480, 320x280, or 160x120. You also get a 5- and 10-second self-timer, four color tones, brightness and white-balance controls, three quality settings (Fine, Normal, and Economy), and a 4X zoom that varies by resolution. There's also a choice of three shutter sounds, or you can create your own or turn it off completely. Picture quality is about what you'd expect--not good--but the integration with Sprint's Picture Mail service is outstanding, and you can easily e-mail photos to contacts saved in your address book. Of course, you can set up photo caller ID with pictures saved in the phone's memory, though disappointingly, the picture appears only on the main screen during calls, not on the external LCD. When taking photos, however, a convenient meter keeps track of how much memory is left.
You can personalize the LG PM-225 with a variety of screensavers and themed skins, as well as personalize a greeting. Strangely, the phone doesn't include any games, although you can download games and other applications from Sprint's PCS Vision service via the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser.We tested the dual-band/trimode (CDMA 800/1900; AMPS 800) LG PM-225 in the Chicago area on the Sprint PCS network. Call quality was generally good. Callers said we sounded clear, but they could tell we were using a cell phone. They didn't complain when we talked over the integrated speakerphone; one caller even said we sounded better than in Normal mode.
Battery life was similarly impressive. We reached 4.25 hours of talk time from the lithium-ion battery, easily beating the rated 3.25 hours. Our standby time was a solid five days. According to FCC radiation tests, the LG PM-225 has a digital SAR rating of 0.9 watts per kilogram and an analog SAR rating of 1.0 watts per kilogram.