LG VX5500 (Verizon Wireless)
Not everyone needs a fancy megapixel camera or a built-in music player in her cell phone. A lot of people just want a basic phone for making calls, and having a few extras like a simple VGA camera and Bluetooth are nice bonuses. The LG VX5500 is not the most advanced phone by any means, but its simple design and features are good enough for those who just want the basics. The VX5500 is also quite affordable at only $49.99 with a two-year service agreement and a $50 mail-in rebate.
There isn't much to say about the VX5500's design. Measuring 3.56 inches long by 1.84 inches wide by 0.73 inch thick, the VX5500 has a pretty boring rectangular shape clad in black and gray tones. It feels quite lightweight at 3.05 ounces, and its smooth plastic back makes it comfortable in the hand. The clamshell hinge has a solid feel and opens and closes smoothly.
Even though it's small, we appreciate that the VX5500 comes with a 1.04-inch, 65,000-color external display. It shows basic information like battery life, signal strength, date and time, as well as photo caller ID when available. It can also act as a self-portrait viewfinder when the camera is activated. You can adjust the screen's backlight time, the wallpaper, and the clock format. The camera lens sits on top of the external display.
Flip open the VX5500 and you'll find a decent-size, 1.76-inch, diagonal display with support for 262,000 colors. The screen looks pretty good for a more basic phone like this--images look sharp and colors look bright and vibrant. You can adjust the backlight time, the menu style (tab, grid, or list), font type, font size, and, of course, the wallpaper and clock format.
The navigation array underneath the display consists of two soft keys, a round navigation toggle with a middle OK key, a dedicated speakerphone key, a Clear key, and the Send and End/Power keys. The up, left, and down keys on the toggle double as shortcuts to three user-defined functions. The right key brings up a My Shortcuts submenu, which leads to four more user-defined applications. The keys on the navigation array are of a decent size and yield easily to pressure. The number keypad was also pleasant to use; it's spacious, and the keys have slight ridges that make them easy to dial by feel.
The left spine has a headset jack, a volume rocker, a voice-command button, and a charger jack, while the dedicated camera key is on the right.
The LG VX5500 has a phonebook with room for 1,000 entries, and each entry can accommodate up to five numbers, two e-mail addresses, and a memo. You can then organize your contacts into caller groups, pair them with a photo for caller ID, or one of 23 polyphonic ring tones. Other basic features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, a calculator, a tip calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a stop watch, a world clock, and a notepad. More advanced features are the Bluetooth support, the wireless Web browser, voice command, mobile Web e-mail, instant messaging, and A-GPS support. The latter means the VX5500 is compatible with Verizon's location-based services, like VZ Navigator and Chaperone Parent/Child.
The VX5500 comes with a simple VGA camera that can take photos in three resolutions (640x480, 320x240, and 160x120), five color effects, five white balance presets, and with or without a night mode. Other camera options include spot photometry, a self-timer, the choice of three shutter sounds, and a silent option. You can also zoom, rotate, and crop images after the photo is taken. As expected with a VGA camera, the photo quality of the images is mostly blurry, with a lot of artifacts. Colors appeared muted and overcast as well. The VX5500 does not have a built-in camcorder.
You can personalize the VX5500 with plenty of wallpaper and ringtones for a customized touch. If you want more, you can download extras via Verizon's browser. The VX5500 doesn't come with any games or applications, but you can download those, too.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 1900/800) LG VX5500 in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless. Call quality was satisfactory; callers could hear us loud and clear, without a lot of static and interference. They did say our voice sounded a bit on the robotic side and were not that natural, but it wasn't a big deal. On our end, we heard our callers' voices just fine. Automated-voice services also recognized us without a problem. Speakerphone calls did not go as well, though; we thought the volume was low and callers sounded a bit tinny. However, callers didn't notice much difference. We paired the LG VX5500 with the Motorola H780 and Bluetooth calls went well.
The LG VX5500 has a rated battery life of 5 hours talk time and 18.3 days standby time. It has a tested talk time of 4 hours and 57 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the VX5500 has a digital SAR rating of 0.953 watts per kilogram.