Until now, Verizon Wireless has lagged behind Sprint PCS and other carriers in the camera-phone arena. But with the release of LG's VX6000 and Verizon's Get Pix service, that will change. This sleek, strong-performing, and affordable handset ($150 after rebate) rivals other camera phones, and it should quickly become one of Verizon's best sellers.
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Flashback: We dig the three dots that scroll across the external LCD.
Its silver-and-navy-blue color scheme gives this compact (3.5 by 1.9 by 0.9 inches; 3.9 ounces) flip phone a sporty, high-tech style, which is further accentuated by the mobile's three-line external OEL display. On the screen, you'll find battery-strength and network-signal indicators displayed in blue on a black background, along with a message icon, caller ID info (when available), and the time. When you turn on the phone, three Tron-like colored dots scroll across the screen--nice.
Below that external LCD, you'll find the small camera lens and the similarly sized mirror, which allows you to see yourself before snapping a self-portrait. Two volume-control keys and an alternate button adorn the side of the phone.
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|Compact camera: The small lens and mirror can be found toward the bottom of the phone.|
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|Chew on this: The size of the camera phone is on a par with that of others in its class.|
Open the phone--you'll notice the crisp, large, six-line, 120x160-pixel, 262,000-color TFT display. But we were equally impressed by the spacious, blue-backlit keys, which made one-handed dialing a snap. We also thought the navigation keys and the shortcut buttons were logically placed and well thought out.
Gone are the complicated LG menus found on such earlier Verizon models as the VX1 and the VX10. With this phone, you can choose between a list or an icon-driven interface. Additionally, you can personalize the phone by selecting a color theme, choosing from any of the included wallpaper scenes, or saving your own pictures as background images.
LG's phones typically come with a cradle/charger, and the VX6000 is no exception. We prefer lightweight travel chargers that plug directly into the phone, minimizing the parts you have to carry on the road. But this is a relatively minor faux pas.
As for features, the VX6000 has all that you'd expect in a high-end model, including two-way SMS, voice-activated dialing, wireless Web access via the company's high-speed data network, a spacious 499-name phone book, a calendar, an alarm clock, voice memos, a calculator, an EZ Tip Calculator, and a world clock. You may also choose from 31 polyphonic ring tones and a vibrate mode. However, if you don't like any of those, you can always download more. Like most mobiles today, this LG is GPS ready for e911 services and comes with a standard 2.5mm headset jack.
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|Picture quality is about average for camera phones of this caliber.|
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|Total exposure: The VX6000 can take pictures in a variety of color effects, including black and white.|
This model is also BREW and 1xRTT enabled, which means you can download new games, screensavers, animations, and applications via Verizon's Get It Now service to the phone's 1.6MB of dedicated memory. Prices for these extra features start at $1 depending on your subscription (monthly, annual, or a one-time fee). It's also MMS ready; thus, you can exchange images with voice recordings between this model and other MMS-ready Verizon handsets.
As noted, one of the VX6000's major selling points is the built-in VGA digital camera. You can take pictures at three different settings: high (640x480 pixels), medium (320x240), and low (160x120). You can also save 20 images to the phone's memory, regardless of resolution. You'll also find a self-timer; white-balance adjustments; multishot, color-effect (normal, antique, black and white, and negative), and brightness controls; five Fun Frames (which let you capture an image of a friend's face and place it in a variety of templates, such as a magazine cover); and the ability to add sound to images.
Once you snap some photos, you can easily send them as attachments to an e-mail address via Verizon's new Get Pix service (initially $2.99 for unlimited use), save them to the phone, or upload them to an online photo album. According to LG, a USB cable accessory will be available in a few months so that you can connect the phone to a computer and transfer images. Keep in mind that capturing and delivering high-quality pics is not the goal of this new breed of phone. In fact, the images are mediocre at best and not suitable for printing.
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Heavy load: We wish LG would ditch the desktop cradle charger in favor of a travel-size unit.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) VX6000 in San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area using Verizon Wireless service. Audio quality was very good, with callers sounding loud and clear. On their end, callers said they couldn't tell that we were using a cell phone.
While battery life wasn't stellar, it's on a par with that of other mobiles in this category. We met the phone's rated talk time of 3 hours and were just 11 hours shy of meeting the rated standby time of 110 hours. It's worth noting that sending pictures from the phone will affect battery life; the more pictures you send, the more quickly your battery drains.