Many handset companies are keen on showing their eco-friendly side these days, and LG is all too happy to join the movement with the LG Remarq. We first saw the Remarq at CTIA 2010, and it's a slider messenger that's made out of 19 percent recycled plastic. In addition, 87 percent of its parts are recyclable once you decide to get rid of it. It also apparently has low levels of both polyvinyl chloride and brominated flame retardants. We're impressed that LG took the time to make the packaging cardboard eco-friendly as well. Even the LG Remarq charger is energy-efficient with an Energy Star certification.
Aside from its eco-conscious features, the Remarq is a decent messaging phone. You won't get high-speed EV-DO here, but you do get a 1.3-megapixel camera, a music player, a microSD card slot, a speakerphone, and quick access to social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. We also like its square design and the QWERTY keyboard feels great too. The LG Remarq is quite a steal, as it's available for free after a $50 mail-in rebate and a new two-year agreement with Sprint.
The LG Remarq's short and squat design follows in the footsteps of many square slider phones before it, like the Samsung Reclaim and the Verizon Wireless Blitz. Some might not like this style of phone, but we have taken quite a shine to the cute and chubby form factor. Measuring 3.5 inches long by 2.5 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick, the Remarq has rounded corners, curved sides, and is decidedly compact. Wrapped in glossy hard plastic, the Remarq weighs around 3.8 ounces and feels surprising solid and sturdy in the hand despite its recycled ingredients.
On the front of it is a very attractive 2.2-inch display. It fits 220x176 pixels and has 262,000-color support, which result in crisp and colorful images and text. You can adjust the brightness, the backlight time, the appearance of the clock, calendar, and greeting text, the font size, and the screensaver. The Remarq supports animated wallpaper as well.
Underneath the display is the navigation array, which consists of two soft keys, a four-way square toggle with a middle Menu/OK key, a dedicated speakerphone key, a back key, a Talk key, and the End/Power key. The toggle also doubles as shortcuts to the message inbox, the browser, the My Stuff folder, and the My Photos album.
On the left is a 2.5mm headset jack, a volume rocker, and a microSD card slot, while the charger jack and camera key are on the right. On the back is the camera lens next to a leaf-shaped external speaker.
Slide the display up and you'll reveal a full four-row QWERTY keyboard. For such a petite phone, the keyboard is actually quite roomy. The keys are well-spaced apart and are raised above the surface for easy typing. The keyboard has the usual symbol and function keys, and we like that the spacebar and enter keys are larger than the rest. It also has a backlight.
The LG Remarq has a 600-entry phone book, with room in each entry for six numbers, three e-mail addresses, a memo, a web URL, an instant messenger handle, a street address, a birthday, a job title, and a company name. You can also add a picture for photo caller ID, assign the entry to a caller group, or customize it with one of 23 ringtones or one of four vibration types. Other basic features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, an alarm clock, a calendar, a calculator, a unit converter, a tip calculator, a notepad, a world clock, and a stopwatch. The Remarq also has GPS with Sprint Navigation and Family Locator services, USB Mass Storage, voice command capabilities, a mobile Web browser, and stereo Bluetooth.
To further boost the Remarq's eco-friendly status, buried within the calculator submenu is a tool called the Eco Calculator. The tool helps you measure your carbon footprint by letting you know how many pounds of CO2 you would be decreasing depending on how many hours/miles you walked or cycled instead of driving. You can also measure it by how many plants that could be planted. It's a little gimmicky, but it might be of interest if you're especially conscious of your carbon usage.
Of course, you also get text and multimedia messaging along with a threaded view so you can see your conversation as a back-and-forth chat. You're able to get e-mail on here as well. You can set it up with a variety of Web mail providers like Gmail and Yahoo Mail, as well as your own POP or IMAP server. In fact, you can access your work e-mail on here as well, provided your employer uses Microsoft Exchange and Outlook Web Access (OWA). Instant messaging is available as well.
In addition to the Web browser, the Remarq has a few social networking applications installed by default. They include Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Sprint's own Social Zone, which provides access to forums like Asian Avenue. Sprint did a decent job with these Java-based apps, but we did find that they took a little too long to launch for our liking. You can easily update your status and upload pictures with these apps, just like you can on the regular Web site versions.
The Remarq has a music player we've seen on other Sprint phones before. You can organize songs by artists, albums, and genres, and you can also create and edit playlists on the fly. Of course there are the usual player controls as well as repeat and shuffle modes. You can send the player to the background while fiddling with other parts of the phone. There's no EV-DO on here, so you won't be able to download music from the Sprint Music Store. However you can upload your own music--the Remarq has an internal memory of 22MB, but you can fit up to 16GB microSD cards in it.
The 1.3-megapixel camera can take pictures in three resolutions and three quality settings. Other settings include four color tones, brightness, five white balance presets plus a manual option, nine fun frames, zoom (not available in highest resolution), and a self-timer. Photo quality was pretty bad. Images looked blurry and washed out, even under good lighting conditions. The Remarq does not have a camcorder.
You can customize the Remarq with graphics and ringtones from the Sprint web store, or you can use your own images and sound files for wallpaper and ringtones. The phone doesn't come with any games, but you can easily purchase and download those as well.
We tested the LG Remarq (CDMA 800/1900) in San Francisco using the Sprint network. Call quality was decent on the whole, but not great. We heard our callers clearly without a problem, though we did notice the occasional static blip. Their voices sounded natural as well.
On their end, callers had a few more hiccups. Though they heard us fine for the most part, they complained about a faint but persistent background hum. When we turned on the speakerphone, the hum was much more apparent. Overall though, we could still carry on a conversation, so it was merely an annoyance, and not a deal breaker.
Audio quality from the phone's speakers was predictably tinny and mediocre. We would suggest a wired or stereo Bluetooth headset for the best audio experience.