When we first spotted the LG Style-i at the CTIA Wireless conference in Las Vegas this year, we thought it was a cell phone. And how could we not? The slim device has a display, Talk and End buttons, and a keypad--all signs that would lead anyone to take it for a cell phone. But in reality, it's not a phone at all. Rather, it's a kind of cell phone remote, a Bluetooth accessory that you pair with your existing Bluetooth-enabled cell phone. The idea is that you can leave your cell phone in your bag, clip on the lightweight Style-i to your shirt or your pocket, then easily make, answer, and end calls without having to rummage through your personal belongings. You can get it for $130 from Verizon Wireless.
The pen-shaped LG Style-i measures 4.33 by 0.87 by 0.55 inches and is astoundingly lightweight, at 0.79 ounce. There's an even smaller OLED screen on the top (1.0 by 0.25 inches) that displays the volume bar; battery strength; a Bluetooth logo when connected to a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone; and caller ID. The OLED shows the information in landscape mode for easier readability. Underneath the display is a Clear key and a keypad with buttons that slant diagonally. The tiny yet tactile buttons are arranged in two columns along the face of the Style-i, which is an awkward layout, especially if you want to dial by feel. The keypad glows a bright blue when activated.
On the left spine of the LG Style-i are a send key and a volume rocker, while the right spine houses a hold switch, the power/End button, and the charger port. The volume rocker, the send key, and the power/End buttons are not sufficiently raised above the surface, which made them a bit difficult to press. On the back is a clip, which you can attach to your shirt lapel or your pocket. On the top is a headset jack, which seems to defeat the purpose of having the Style-i (why not connect a headset to the cell phone itself?), but it's there as an option. Overall, it felt comfortable and lightweight in the hand, though holding it next to the ear became awkward after a while because it's so small.
That's right--the LG Style-i isn't a hands-free device. You use it exactly like you would a regular cell phone. You can make, answer, and end calls, and you can even place calls on hold. It also supports voice dialing and last-number redial. We tested the Style-i with the Samsung MM-A900, and the pairing process was not very intuitive. We had to turn the Style-i off, activate the Bluetooth pairing function on the cell phone, and turn the Style-i back on--only then would it work. Calls on our end has great sound quality, although callers said our voices were faint. This wasn't a problem in quieter environments, but outside, we had to speak louder or move the mic closer to our mouths for them to hear us. The Style-i has a rated talk time of 8 hours and a rated standby time of eight days.
We'll be honest--we're stumped as to the need for something such as the LG Style-i. With the numerous Bluetooth headsets out there that allow for hands-free connectivity, plus the fact that most of today's cell phones fit easily in one's pocket anyway, the Style-i seems like yet another superfluous accessory--and an expensive one, to boot. You might want one if you have a clunker of a cell phone that you don't want to take out of your bag, but we suggest buying a smaller phone, many of which sell for less than the Style-i.