Fortunately, the mobile comes with an external display, a feature we always approve of. The postage-stamp-size screen is monochrome, but it shows time, signal strength, date, battery life, and caller ID (where available). The internal display measures 1.8 inches diagonally and shows 65,536 colors. It's bright enough so that you can clearly view pictures and phone numbers, but it's a little small for serious Web browsing or text messaging; you can't change the font size either.
With a design reminiscent of a Samsung handset's, the circular four-way toggle is used to navigate the phone's menu system, and the OK button is placed logically at the center. The toggle provides shortcuts to messaging, downloads, contacts, and a scheduler. You also get two soft keys and a dedicated Back button. The backlit keypad is well laid out and easy to navigate; the slightly raised keys are small but well spaced.
On the side of the phone, you will find volume controls, a 2.5mm headset jack, and a dedicated voice-dialing button. One bonus not found on most entry-level phones is an integrated speakerphone--a nod to how many users are now using this feature. The speakerphone button is conveniently located just below the circular toggle.Voice features dominate the LG VI-125's feature set, with a built-in speakerphone, 30 polyphonic ring tones, a vibrate mode, and voice-dialing capabilities. But there are a few fun extras as well. The phone book lets you create 200 entries, each with five numbers, an e-mail address, and a Web address. In addition to the conventional text and picture caller ID, the phone also provides customizable avatars for each caller. You configure a little anime character, choosing her hair, eyes, and clothing, and associate it with particular callers. Only a female avatar is included; male avatars, presumably, must be purchased separately.
Other productivity tools include a calendar with scheduler, an alarm clock, a notepad, a calculator, a tip calculator, and the ubiquitous world clock. Using the built-in voice recorder, you can also record you own voice ringers as well as up to 30 voice memos. Unfortunately, the combined length of your voice memos cannot exceed three minutes. The phone has only 1MB of internal memory, which is a bit low even for a model without a camera.
The VI-125 works with Sprint's Vision data service (1xRTT), which can be used to download games, pictures, ring tones, and other applications. The phone also includes a J2ME engine and an Openwave 6.2 (WAP 2.0) Web browser, with support for JPEG, BMP, WBMP, GIF, PNG, and WPNG images. However, the phone's small screen and limited keyboard controls make it less than ideal for browsing.We tested the triband (800/1900; CDMA 800) LG VI-125 on the Sprint PCS network in New York City and in Las Vegas at a convention center filled with techies using their phones. Despite the strain on the local node in Vegas, the VI-125 consistently found a signal with four bars or more. By comparison, our Treo 650, also on the Sprint network, would show only two bars. Callers also said that our voice came through clearer and stronger on the VI-125 than on the Treo.
The full-duplex speakerphone worked well, with few dropouts on either end. Although the microphone picked up a fair amount of background noise in our "crowded street" tests, we were still able to converse with callers.
We were also able to get some impressive battery life from the VI-125. Although the phone is rated at 3.5 hours of digital talk time, we were able to get closer to 4. For standby time, we got 6.5 days, compared to the promised time of 6.25 days. According to the FCC, the LG VI-125 has a digital SAR rating of 0.99 watts per kilogram and an analog SAR rating of 1.02 watts per kilogram.