Most of LG's messaging phones in the U.S. have been geared toward CDMA carriers, like the LG Rumor 2 for Sprint and the LG enV2 for Verizon Wireless. Not so with LG's latest messaging phone, the LG Xenon, available from .
Not only does the Xenon have a slide-out QWERTY keyboard for messaging, it also has a large touch-screen interface similar to the one on the LG Vu. Unlike the Vu however, the Xenon has a home screen customizable with widgets, dedicated pages for favorite contacts and applications, and something called the "Annunciator," which is essentially a drop-down menu of certain shortcuts. Aside from that, the Xenon has almost the same features as the Vu: a 2-megapixel camera, a music player, a full HTML browser, stereo Bluetooth, and more.
Though we weren't thrilled with the Web browsing experience, we were overall pleased with the Xenon and think it makes an excellent messaging phone for AT&T customers. The LG Xenon is available for $99.99 with a two-year service agreement.
At first glance, the LG Xenon appears to be just another touch-screen phone. Measuring 4.16 inches long by 2.11 inches wide by 0.62 inch thick, the Xenon has smooth, sleek lines all around, with a touch of chrome around the border. It's a little smaller than the LG Vu and a little thicker as well. The Xenon is fairly lightweight at 3.81 ounces, and it's slim enough to fit in a front pocket.
Dominating its entire front surface is a large 2.8-inch touch-screen display. It's smaller than the 3-inch displays on the LG Dare and the LG Vu, but it still looks good. It supports 262,000 colors and 240x400 pixels, which result in great-looking graphics and colorful images. You can view the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and photo caller ID. Even when the screen is locked, you can see the date and time in a screen overlay. You can set the brightness, the backlight timer, and the font size. For dialing fonts, you can set the color as well.
Along the top of the screen are three icons, each of which corresponds to one of three customizable standby screens. You get one just for your favorite contacts, one for the home screen, and one for your favorite application shortcuts. All standby screens have four shortcut icons along the bottom, which correspond to the phone dialer, the contacts list, the messaging menu, and the main menu. The main menu interface is similar to the one on the Vu, with four tabs along the right to differentiate applications. You get one tab for Phone-related apps, one for Multimedia, one for My Stuff (which includes the media gallery plus productivity tools), and another for Settings.
For the favorite contacts screen, just follow the instructions to add a contact from your phone book. The contacts will then appear as small icons with the person's name, phone number, and photo. You can have up to three pages of favorite contacts, and you can arrange them on the screen however you wish by dragging and dropping the icons, or you can align them with the grid. You can also fix the icons so they don't change position with the screen orientation. As for the shortcuts screen, you can add up to nine shortcuts. To add and remove shortcuts, simply press and hold down on a shortcut icon.
The home screen is also customizable with a variety of widgets, similar to the TouchWiz interface on some Samsung phones. On the bottom left of the Xenon's home screen is a little right arrow that opens up to reveal a tray of widgets. There are only six to choose from, though; there's an analog clock, a world clock, the calendar, sticky notes, the image gallery, and the music player. To add a widget to the home screen, just drag and drop it on the page. You can then close the tray by pressing the little left arrow.
The LG Xenon also has a drop-down shortcuts menu it calls the "Annunciator." Simply tap the top part of any screen, and a list of shortcuts will appear. You can go directly to the music player, toggle the Bluetooth connection on and off, set your ring and vibration profile, send a new text message, send a new mobile e-mail, check your voice mail, start the instant messenger for either Yahoo, AOL, or Windows Live, set your alarm clock, or view the calendar.
As with all touch-screen handsets, you use only your fingers (or a stylus if you have one) to navigate the interface. It felt quite intuitive, and we liked that there was haptic feedback to let us know when our touch has registered. There's also Touch Calibration to ensure proper accuracy and responsiveness. Do note there's a slight learning curve involved. When we first started using it, we occasionally had issues when scrolling through lists--sometimes we would accidentally select something by mistake. We did learn to deal with this eventually, though. Dialing numbers went pretty smoothly, because of the large numbers on the virtual keypad. There's also a built-in internal accelerometer, but it only works with certain applications, like the Web browser--it would turn the screen orientation from portrait to landscape mode when tilted 90 degrees, for example.
To make texting easier, the LG Xenon has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard on the side. Just slide the phone to the right, and a full four-line QWERTY keyboard will appear on your left. When you slide the keyboard out, the screen orientation will change from portrait mode to landscape mode. We really like the keys on this keyboard--they're well-spaced and feel very tactile, making it easy to type with speed. We especially like that there are specialized keys on the keyboard, like a dedicated text message key, a dedicated mobile e-mail key, a Web browser key, a phone book key, an @ symbol key, and a .com key. The latter two are especially useful when entering e-mail addresses, and of course the .com key is good for entering Web URLs. If you prefer not to use the keyboard, you can choose to enter in text via a virtual T9 keypad, but we see no reason to do so.