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Those seeking a cheaper alternative to the LG Shine need not fear, as LG has recently introduced the just-as-shiny LG VX8700 specifically for the U.S. market. Somewhat of a successor to the LG VX8600, the LG VX8700 sports a flip phone design instead of the Shine's slider design. While we appreciated its marvelous stainless-steel design, we were slightly disappointed with the lack of external music controls, the flat keypad, and the inconvenient location of the microSD card slot. That said, the VX8700 sports a healthy number of multimedia features wrapped up in an amazingly attractive package, which makes up for its design indiscretions. The LG VX8700 is available for $179.99 after a two-year contract with Verizon Wireless and a $50 discount. To find ringtones and accessories for this phone, plus advice and tips on how to use it, check out our cell phones ringtones, accessories, and help page.
Much like the LG Shine, the LG VX8700 is a beautiful design-centric phone that rivals the LG Chocolate in sex appeal. It has a lovely, brushed-steel look that is undeniably seductive, and its metal casing gives it a very smooth and solid feel in the hand. At 3.82 inches by 1.95 inches by 0.54 inch, it is slightly smaller than the VX8600, and as a result, it fits easily into a pocket or purse. On the other hand, it's somewhat heavier than the VX8600, at around 3.77 ounces, but that wasn't a problem for us.
The VX8700 external display runs vertically down the center of its front face, which makes for a nice design change over a standard rectangular screen. Supporting 65,000 colors and measuring about 1.4-inch diagonally, it displays caller ID, signal and battery strength, and the current date and time. Because the vertical display is so thin, it doesn't support photo caller ID, and you'll still have to flip open the phone to see the image of the caller. You can also align the orientation of the external display to the left or to the right. When the backlight is off, it becomes a mirror and can be used for taking vanity shots with the camera lens right above. Rounding out the exterior features are the volume rocker, voice command buttons, and a headset/charger jack on its left spine and a dedicated camera button on the right. We should note that because of the VX8700's shiny metal casing, the phone's exterior is prone to fingerprint smudges.
Flip open the phone and you'll be presented with a luscious 262,000-color 2.25-inch internal display. The graphics are rich with detail and color, and we loved the animated wallpapers that really show off the screen's potential. You can adjust the backlight timer of the front and main displays as well as the keypad, the size of the dialing fonts, and the clock format on the main display. There are two menu designs to choose from, and while they are both simple and user-friendly, we preferred the Metallic theme as it offered an easier to navigate menu style. Also, we like that you're not saddled with Verizon's default interface.
Located beneath the screen is the navigation array, which consists of two soft keys, a four-way navigation toggle that doubles as shortcuts to four user-defined functions, a middle OK key, a Clear key, a speakerphone key, and the Send and End/Power keys. Both the navigation array and the keypad are reminiscent of the Motorola Razr; controls that are flush with the surface of the phone, resembling a large touch pad. There are faint textured lines to help differentiate the keys from each other, but the buttons themselves were spaced well. That didn't prevent our fingers from slipping a few times on the keypad, however, so we wouldn't recommend dialing by feel.
Unlike the LG Shine or the LG VX8600, the VX8700 lacks external music controls. Though this doesn't seem terrible at first, we ended up missing them since we couldn't play music without opening the phone. Also, we were quite disappointed with the VX8700's location of the microSD card slot, which can't be accessed without removing the phone's battery.
Despite the design focus of the VX8700, the powerful multimedia features were equally impressive. This is a welcome change from design-centric phones like the LG Chocolate that were all beauty and hardly any brains. First, let's start with the phone's basics. The VX8700's phone book can hold as many as 1,000 contacts, with room in each entry for five phone numbers and two e-mail addresses. You can then save the contacts to groups and customize each entry with an assigned photo for caller ID or 1 of 18 polyphonic ringtones. Other simple features include text and multimedia messaging, instant messaging (AIM, MSN, and Yahoo IM), speed dialing, a vibrate mode, a calendar, a calculator, an alarm clock, a world clock, a notepad, a tip calculator, and a speakerphone. The VX8700 comes with a few advanced features such as voice recording, voice command and dialing, e-mail, a wireless Web browser, stereo Bluetooth support, EV-DO support, the ability to be used as a USB mass-storage device, and built-in GPS. The latter supports Verizon's location-based services including VZ Navigator and Chaperone.
Of course, with EV-DO speeds under its belt, the VX8700 is able to support Verizon's V Cast Music and V Cast Video with aplomb. With V Cast Music, you can download songs to your PC for 99 cents each and then upload them to the phone via a USB cable, or you can choose to purchase songs over-the-air for $1.99 each, which can be then downloaded to your phone and your PC for the same price. Unfortunately, the VX8700 does not come with a USB cable, music software, or microSD card. As with most Verizon V Cast phones, you'll have to pony up an additional $30 for a Music Essentials Kit that includes the software and the USB cable. This is a quite an annoying oversight on the part of Verizon, as it incurs additional costs. That said, the music player supports both WMA and MP3 files, and it includes playlists and a handy shuffle mode. Also, the VX8700 comes with a headset adapter which you can attach to a pair of your favorite earbuds. On the video side, V Cast Video provides access to a wide range of on-demand mobile video content, from music videos to short video clips of movie trailers or TV shows. Please refer to our review of the V Cast service for more information.
One of the most outstanding features on the VX8700 is its 2-megapixel camera. You can choose from up to four different resolutions (1,600x1,200, 1,280x960, 640x480, 320x240 pixels), adjust the white balance and the brightness, set a self-timer, choose from three shutter sounds or a silent option, and select one of five color effects. Other camera settings include a night mode plus the option of saving to the internal memory or to a microSD card. Photo quality was simply stunning for a camera phone, with rich colors and vivid detail. The phone comes with a built-in image editor, which you can use to rotate, crop, or zoom in on photos.
There's also a camcorder, with settings that include the choice of two resolutions (320x240 and 178x144) and editing options that are similar to that of the still camera. Recording time varies from 30 seconds for multimedia messages to an hour or more depending on how much space you have on your microSD card. Video quality was predictably shaky and grainy, but it was still acceptable for a camera phone. One neat thing you can do with the video is set the video as wallpaper, essentially making your own animated background.
You have a wide choice of personalization options with the LG VX8700. You can purchase and download additional alerts, ringtones, graphics, wallpaper, themes, and screensavers from Verizon's Get It Now service. You can also download games and applications, which is a good thing since there are none included with the phone.
We tested the dual-band dual-mode (CDMA 800/1900; EV-DO) LG VX8700 in San Francisco using Verizon's service. We were quite impressed with the call quality, and callers also reported the same thing on their end. Voices sound crisp and clear with little distortion. The sound quality of the speakerphone was pretty good as well, though a bit tinny at times. As for the EV-DO service, we were satisfied with the download speeds; it took us about 20 seconds to download a song, and loading Web pages only took a couple of seconds. We did experience a lower-quality performance with the streaming video however. Clips paused for rebuffering a few times, and some of the videos appeared a little too pixelated for our liking.
We paired the LG VX8700 with the Plantronics Pulsar 260 headset without a hitch. We used the stereo Bluetooth headset to listen to music as well and were very pleased with the audio quality. Songs sounded bright with just the right amount of bass. Listening to the songs via the internal speakers was less than satisfactory due to the tinny sound, but it wasn't terrible either.
The LG VX8700 has a rated battery talk time of 3.3 hours and a rated standby time of 10 days. We got a talk time of 3 hours, 54 minutes in our tests. According to FCC radiation tests, the LG VX8700 has a digital SAR rating of 1.13 watts per kilogram.