The first word that comes to our mind when looking at the LG VX3450 is cute. Its curvaceous, almost hourglass-like design makes it look like it has a bit of a belly. Plus, it's so compact and lightweight--it measures 3.4x1.9x1.0 inches and weighs 3.3 ounces--that it fits very naturally in the hand and cradles comfortably next to the ear. The hinge had just the right amount of give, and we could open and close the phone one-handed. The VX3450 has a stubby antenna on the top right side.
We always appreciate it when a basic phone such as this one has an external screen, and the VX3450 meets that requirement. It's a small, 1-inch diagonal, monochrome display, but at least it has a blue color filter. The external screen displays the date, the time, battery life, and signal strength, as well as caller ID. Though we would've appreciated a color screen for photo caller ID, the VX3450 doesn't have a camera anyway so the monochrome is fine with us. A volume rocker rests on its left spine, while a dedicated voice command button is on the right.
Open the phone and you'll find a rather lackluster internal display. The small, 1.5-inch diagonal screen only supports 65,000 colors and it shows--the images appeared rather fuzzy around the edges and colors were muted. We did like LG's simple menu navigation system in lieu of Verizon's custom menu style, as it's far easier to use. You can adjust the backlight timer, the contrast, as well as the font sizes for the calling digits, the text editor, and the menu font.
Underneath the display is the navigation array which is made up of two soft keys and a four-way toggle with a middle OK key. The toggle doubles as shortcuts to the speakerphone, the calendar, messages, and the sounds settings menu by default. However, you can define your own shortcut for the right arrow key via the Tools menu. Surrounding the toggle are the Send key, a Clear key, and the End/Power key. These keys, along with the alphanumeric keypad, are nice and big, well spaced, and have a slight bump above the surface of the phone for easy dialing and texting.
The VX3450 has a 300-contact address book, and each entry can accommodate as many as nine numbers, an e-mail address, and a memo. For caller ID purposes, you can assign a group ID or pair a name with one of 30 different 32-chord polyphonic ring tones or message alert tones. You can also use one of the included clip-art icons as a picture caller ID since the phone doesn't have a camera. Other features of the phone include text and picture messaging, a schedule, an alarm clock, a voice memo recorder, a note pad, a tip calculator, a calculator, a world clock, a unit converter, a speakerphone, and a melody composer that lets you create your own ring tone, as well as voice dialing support.
As there is no Web browser on the VX3450, personalization options are rather limited; there is no way for you to get additional wallpaper or themes. All you have are the wallpaper, themes, banner, colors, and fonts that are already installed on the phone. You can have different start-up and shut-down screens, and choose between analog or digital clock format for the display in standby mode.
We tested the dual-band trimode (CDMA 850/1900, AMPS 850) LG VX3450 in San Francisco using Verizon's network. The call quality was superb; we could make calls from the subway without too much hiss or static. Callers did know that we were calling from a cell phone, but it wasn't a significant hindrance.
The VX3450 has a rated talk time of 2.5 hours and a standby time of almost 7 days. We eked out a respectable 3 hours and 40 minutes of talk time in our tests. According to FCC radiation tests, the LG VX3450 has a digital SAR rating of 0.937 watts per kilogram.