For a regional carrier, U.S. Cellular has quite a number of phones that we sometimes wish were available on nationwide carriers, like the LG Rhythm and the Samsung Delve. Well, now we have another one to add to the list; the LG Wine. Though it has fairly ho-hum features, it has a great big keypad plus four physical shortcut keys underneath the display, both of which really help make this phone easy to use. We see this as an excellent everyday low-end phone that anyone can pick up and use without having to fiddle too much with the manual. The Wine is also quite affordable at only $29.95 with a two-year service agreement.
The LG Wine has a pretty standard flip-phone design, with a simple rectangular shape and rather sharp corners. Still, we quite like the design, especially with the shiny spun metal look on the front surface. Measuring 3.89 inches long by 1.93 inches wide by 0.66 inch thick, the Wine comes in both red and white, which is indicative of its beverage-inspired name. The Wine feels good in the hand, and is quite lightweight at only 3.32 ounces.
On the front of the Wine is a 1.3-inch external screen, which shows the date, time, battery and signal strength, as well as incoming caller ID. It will also work as a self-portrait viewfinder for the camera. The camera lens is above the screen. On the left spine is the volume rocker and charger jack, while the headset jack and dedicated camera key are on the right.
Flip open the phone and you'll find a very nice 2.2-inch 262,000 color display with 240 x 320 pixels. The screen looks great and shows off bold graphic icons quite well. You can adjust the screen's backlight time, the menu style, the font settings for style, color, and size, and the color scheme.
Directly underneath the display are four dedicated shortcut keys. They are shortcuts to the messaging menu, the alarm clock, the images folder, and U.S. Cellular's EasyEdge online store. It's certainly nice to have dedicated shortcut keys like these, but since you can easily get to these functions from the existing navigation array, they seem a bit unnecessary. Still, if you don't want to remember which keys correspond to which function, these four keys are very helpful for quick access.
The navigation array consists of two soft keys, a four-way circular toggle with a middle Menu/OK key, a dedicated speakerphone key, a Back key, a Talk key, and the End/Power key. The four-way toggle doubles as shortcuts to the Bluetooth menu, the EasyEdge online store, a shortcuts menu with room for up to 12 shortcuts, and the calendar.
Both the navigation array and the number keypad are a joy to use. They're both very roomy, and all the keys are large and quite tactile. The number keys on the keypad are in very large text, which is great for those who don't have the best eyesight. It's very easy to dial and text by feel as well.
The LG Wine has a roomy 1,000-entry phone book with room in each entry for five phone numbers, two e-mail addresses, and a memo. You can then add your contacts to a caller group, pair them with a photo for caller ID, or pair them with one of 34 polyphonic tones to be either the ringtone or message alert tone. Other features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, a calendar, a memo pad, easy tip calculator, a calculator, an alarm clock, a world clock, a stopwatch, a unit converter, voice command support, Bluetooth, and support for location-based navigation.
There's also a mobile Web browser and mobile e-mail access. However, in order to access them, you have to go to the MyStuff tab in the EasyEdge interface. We would prefer a more direct way to access the browser and mobile e-mail.
The 1.3-megapixel camera can take pictures in five resolutions (1,280x960, 640x480, 320x240, 176x144, and 160x120), three quality settings, four color effects, and five white balance presets. Other settings include a self-timer, a night mode, multishot modes, brightness, zoom, and four shutter sounds plus a silent option. Photo quality was decent, but not great. Pictures had an orange tinge, and it was not as sharp as we would like. The Wine doesn't have a music player or a camcorder, which is good since it only has 48MB of internal memory.
You can personalize the Wine with wallpaper, themes, tones, and a banner. The Wine also comes with games like Pac-Man, but you can always get more from the EasyEdge Shop.
We "="" rel="follow">tested the LG Wine in San Francisco, roaming outside U.S. Cellular's home network on Verizon Wireless. Call quality was good, but it was still clear that we were talking on a cell phone. Callers said our voice sounded tinny and rather robotic. On our side, we thought the same of their voices too. Still, we enjoyed very little static. Speakerphone calls went well, though there was a bit more static and audio sounded a little weak and muffled at times.
The LG Wine has a rated battery life of 4 hours talk time and 7 days standby time. Our tests showed a talk time of 6 hours and 9 minutes. According to the FCC, the Wine has a SAR rating of 1.3 watts per kilogram.