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Overview

What’s good: Battery warrior, great internal and external keypads
What’s bad: Using camera while QWERTY keyboard is open results in a challenge.

Introduction

When one thinks back to the original bland and bulky LG enV, it’s evident that the company’s latest devices are designed to integrate form and functionality as much as possible. Following some of the design cues of the enV2, the LG enV3 offers a more stylish form factor with improved features across the board. For those carrying older versions, is it worth the upgrade? Can another text messaging device compete in the market? Continue reading to find out.

Design & Features

A number of improvements can be seen in the enV3. Though it retains the general form factor of its predecessor, the device offers a curvier body, a texturized back, a better keyboard inside and out, and a 3.0-megapixel camera. Available in blue and red, the enV3 clocks in at 4.11" x 2.13" x 0.65" and weighs 3.77 ounces, making it a comfortable phone to hold. Wireless carriers have become famous for their minimalist packaging, and it’s no different with the enV3. Upon opening the box, a charger, USB cable (which doubles as part of the charger), and instruction manuals can be found.

LG enV3 closed

Though the external display offers 65,000 colors and 160x96 pixels, the internal display is far more vibrant, sporting 262,000 colors and 320x240 pixels. Both displays looked great; on the external display, it was easy to add contacts and perform other text-related tasks, and we enjoyed the themes and icons. From this display, the address book, messages, recent calls, pictures, music, Bluetooth menu, and key guard can be accessed. The camera can be used on the external display for the purpose of taking pictures, however the user must open the flip in order to view the gallery. For those concerned about pocket dialing, the enV3 offers a key lock, where the user can set it to activate every 7, 15, or 30 seconds. In addition to the external functions, the internal display looked fantastic, and is where a majority of the enV3’s functions are performed.
LG enV3 open
The left side of the device contains the camera button and the volume rocker, whereas the right side offers a 2.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card slot. A microUSB charging port is located on the bottom of the phone.

Usability & Performance

The enV3 comes preloaded with themes and wallpaper for the internal and external displays. Internally, the user can choose from “Slick Black,” “White,” “Spotlight,” and “Blue Sky” themes. Externally, “Sapphire” and “Snow” can be selected. In addition to the themes, there are various wallpaper options for both displays. The enV3 is a media-centric device, offering V CAST with Rhapsody, V CAST Video for live clips, and an MP3 player that supports MP3, WMA, unprotected AAC, and AAC+ formats. VZ Navigator is also available.

One of the strongest points about the enV3 is the HTML browser. Using it, the user can browse the web, zoom in and out, and view RSS feeds. The problem centers around the method of entering URL’s – there is no dedicated place for entry. The user must go back to the “Verizon VZWGoto” website to enter the URL. As a result, it slows down the experience and makes it frustrating for those who rely on web browsing on a regular basis.

Both the internal and the external keyboards are fantastic. The external keyboard is an improvement over previous enV devices; equally sized keys and a curved design make it easier to type. On the inside, the QWERTY keypad has an ergonomic feel to it and offers larger keys to boot. Users with larger fingers may complain that the enV3 is awkward to type on. Fortunately, based on our experience with the device, we have a solution. Open the device to a 180-degree position, and place both index fingers on the lip that is created by the opening (where the camera button and volume rocker are) and commence typing. Using that approach, we found it much easier to type at regular speeds.

The enV3 offers a 3.0-megapixel camera with a flash. While it takes decent video and pictures, it’s certainly not a replacement to a traditional camera. A problem we encountered was the placement of the lens. Thanks to it being on the left side of the device, the way the user must hold the phone often blocks the camera. Obviously, there are ways to get around it, but it requires holding the phone in a strange manner and may make videos and pictures blurry.

We tested the reception on the device, and were pleased with the outcome. Calls sound great, and our callers couldn’t tell that we were using a cell phone. Minus some occasional distortions, the speakerphone was strong as well. In regards to battery life, the enV3 is a warrior. Rated at 5.5 hours of talk time and just over 19 days of standby time, we were able to get 5 hours of continuous talk time and 3 days of combined use. For light to moderate users, the device could easily last 3-5 days.

Conclusion

The LG enV3 is a fantastic device, and is a worthy upgrade to the previous enV devices. For those on the fence, we recommend the upgrade. Minus the minor web browsing URL issue and the potential issues surrounding the camera, the device is solid. For those in need of a good, feature rich text messaging device, the only decision to make is which color to purchase!
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