LG has introduced a lot of flashy high-end phones in the past year, like the speedy LG Voyager from Verizon and the super stylish LG Shine CU720 from AT&T. But that doesn't mean LG has forgotten those of us who just want a simple phone without all the bells and whistles. The LG VX5400 is just that, but it does have a few extra features that elevates it above pure basic phone status--a VGA camera, Bluetooth, and voice-command support, just to name a few. Not to mention, it has a great keypad and excellent call quality as well. It's not the fanciest phone on the block, but for a basic camera phone, it's not too shabby. The LG VX5400 is quite affordable at $29.99 after a two-year service agreement.
Though we usually criticize basic phones for not having much of a design aesthetic, the LG VX5400 actually doesn't look too bad. Measuring 3.54 inches by 1.87 inches by 0.89 inch, it has a slim and compact shape with gentle curves along its side, plus it weighs a light 3.21 ounces, which contributes to a pretty comfortable feel in the hand. And though it's not nearly as shiny as the LG Shine, it still has a reflective mirror-finish front face that can be used as a self-portrait mirror. This is especially handy since the camera lens is located right on the front of the phone as well.
There doesn't seem to be an external display at first, but once a button is pressed, a 1.04-inch external screen is revealed underneath the mirrored face. It supports 65,000 colors and shows the basic date, time, battery life, and signal strength information. Since it's a color screen, it also supports photo caller ID. You can adjust the backlight timer and wallpaper of the external screen but that's about it. Rounding out the phone's exterior is a volume rocker on the left spine, and a camera key plus a voice-command key on the right.
Flip the VX5400 open and you get a pretty nice internal display for such a basic phone. The 1.77-inch screen supports 262,000 colors, and it shows. Graphics appeared sharp and images were saturated with color. Our only complaint is that the VX5400 has that annoying classic Verizon menu interface as a default, though you can change it to the more tolerable list-style modern display theme if you wish. You can adjust the backlight time, the wallpaper, the clock formats, the display themes, as well as the dial fonts.
The navigation controls consist of two soft keys, a circular toggle that doubles as shortcuts to four user-defined functions, a central OK key, a Clear key, a speakerphone key, plus the expected Talk and End keys. The overall keypad is well-spaced and easy to use, with a slightly beveled raised texture that make it easy to dial by feel.
The LG VX5400 doesn't come with a lot of features, so let's just get right to it. It comes with a generous 1,000-entry contacts list with room in each entry for five phone numbers and two e-mail addresses. You can also save callers to groups plus pair them with a photo or one of 12 ringtones and 6 alert tones for caller ID. Essential features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, a calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a stop watch, a notepad, and a world clock. A few extra advanced features include e-mail support, instant messaging, a wireless Web browser, voice-command support, voice recording, as well as Bluetooth support. The VX5400 can also support Verizon's VZ Navigator location-based service, plus the Chaperone Parent/Child application.
We didn't expect too much out of the LG VX5400's VGA camera, and photo quality was indeed quite bad, with images that looked washed out, blurry, with too much of an orange tinge. Camera settings include up to 3x zoom, three resolutions (640x480, 320x240, and 160x120), a self-timer, brightness, five white balance options, three shutter sounds (plus a silent option), five color effects, and a night mode. The VX5400 doesn't have a camcorder option.
You can personalize the VX5400 with a variety of wallpaper, display themes, and alert sounds, plus you can download more via the wireless Web browser. The VX5400 doesn't come with any games, so you'll have to download and purchase those as well.
We tested the tri-mode (CDMA 800/1900; AMPS) in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless. Call quality was amazingly good--callers often thought we were on a regular landline instead of a cell phone. There was a tiny bit of echo occasionally, but it wasn't a big deal. On our end, we also heard our callers loud and clear, with natural sounding voices and not much distortion at all. Speakerphone quality was also quite good, though there was a bit more echo and background noise. We paired the VX5400 with the Callpod Dragon Bluetooth headset and experienced good reception and call quality.
The LG VX5400 has a rated battery life of 4.7 hours talk time and 16.7 days standby time. We had a pretty decent tested talk time of 5 hours, 11 minutes. According to the FCC, the LG VX5400 has a