LG VX8360 (Verizon Wireless) review: LG VX8360 (Verizon Wireless)

Even though the VX8360 may seem like any other clamshell, it actually comes with several high-end features that make it one of the better midtier handsets out there. That said, its feature set is almost identical to that of the VX8350, and we wished there would be at least some improvement.

The LG VX8360 comes with a generous 1,000-entry phone book with room in each entry for five numbers and two e-mail addresses. You can organize your contacts into groups, pair them with a picture for photo caller ID, or one of 23 polyphonic ring tones and alert tones. Other essentials include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, a calculator, a tip calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a stopwatch, a world clock, a notepad, and a voice memo recorder. More advanced users will like the mobile instant messaging (AIM, Yahoo, and MSN), mobile e-mail (this is done via the VX8360's Web browser), voice command capabilities, a wireless Web browser, stereo Bluetooth, and USB Mass Storage mode. It also has A-GPS, and it is compatible with location-based services such as VZ Navigator and Chaperone, a Verizon service that helps parents keep track of their kids.

The VX8360 has EV-DO, and with that comes support for Verizon's V Cast. That includes V Cast Video; Verizon's streaming video service; plus V Cast Music with Rhapsody, Verizon's music store. The VX8360's music player is housed within Verizon's V Cast Music interface, which is a little clunky, but still usable. The songs are grouped by genres, artists, and albums, plus you can create and edit your own playlists. Other player options include repeat and shuffle mode. You can purchase songs over the air for $1.99 each, which includes a simultaneous download to your PC. If you want, you can purchase songs directly from V Cast to your PC for only 99 cents. And if you have a Rhapsody music subscription ($14.99 a month), you can load some of your subscribed tracks directly to the phone. The VX8360 supports up to 8GB microSD cards, so that's plenty of room for your MP3s.

The LG VX8360 has pretty good photo quality.

Like the VX8350, the VX8360 comes with a 1.3-megapixel camera. We're a little disappointed that the VX8360's camera did not at least get a slight megapixel update. That said, photo quality is pretty good for a 1.3-megapixel camera--images look sharp and saturated with color. Camera settings include three resolutions (1,280x960, 640x480, and 320x240), a self-timer, white balance, shutter sounds (with a silent option), color effects, brightness, a night mode, photometry/spot meter modes, plus the option to save the image to the phone's internal memory or to a microSD card. The camera doesn't have flash, however. As for the camcorder, there is only one video resolution of 176x144 pixels, and you can record in two lengths (up to 30 seconds for MMS or until the memory is full). Camcorder settings are similar to that of the still camera. Video quality is expectedly blurry and pixilated, but it's OK for quick clips to share with your friends.

You can customize the VX8360 with a variety of wallpapers, display themes, ringtones, alerts, and more. The VX8360 doesn't come with any games. If you want more options and applications, you can purchase and download them via the wireless Web browser.

We tested the LG VX8360 in San Francisco using the Verizon Wireless network. We were very impressed with the call quality. The VX8360 comes with "Voice Clarity" feature that helps to adjust the voice level based on the surrounding noise and, according to our callers, it worked. They could hear us loud and clear even in a variety of situations--in the office, in a crowded restaurant, and inside a car. On our end, we could hear them very clearly as well. Speakerphone quality was also slightly improved over the VX8350. Callers sounded loud and clear thanks to the speaker on the front, and they could hear us without any problems too.

Music quality is great as well. The bass is a little shallow, but overall sound quality was fine for a music phone. We would recommend using a headset for better audio fidelity.

As for the EV-DO speeds, we're pleased that we're able to surf the Web without a lot of waiting. We also downloaded a song in about 40 seconds, which is quite impressive. The streaming V Cast video looked a bit blurry, but there were no buffering issues.

The LG VX8360 has a rated battery life of 5.26 hours of talk time and 26.7 days of standby time. The tested talk time is a tad shorter at 4 hours and 22 minutes. According to the FCC radiation tests, the VX8360 has a digital SAR rating of 1.14 watts per kilogram.