What's Good: Great music device; decent touchscreen.
What's Bad: Battery life slightly lower than expectations.
As the fourth family member to the Chocolate line, the Chocolate Touch VX8575 shifts to a Dare-like form factor. Those familiar with the situation are aware that LG released two versions of the Chocolate; the BL40 for Europe and Asia, and the VX8575 for the United States. As a phone nerd, I would have preferred the BL40, but thanks to a Verizon focus group (or so the rumor goes), we have the VX8575 instead. At any rate, the Chocolate Touch performs incredibly well in the music category. Is the Verizon version a worthy contender to the carrier's lineup?
Design & Features
The left spine of the Chocolate Touch houses the microUSB charging port, volume rocker, and a speakerphone button. The right side sports a lanyard hole, lock button, music player shortcut key, and a camera key. The front of the device sports a proximity sensor and three asymmetric buttons under the display (send, clear/voice recording, and end). The camera is located on the back of the device, and a 3.5mm headphone jack can be found on the top of the unit.
Keeping it eco-friendly, the LG Chocolate Touch packaging is minimalist, offering the device, battery, USB cord, AC adapter, two battery covers (black and purple), and manuals. Coming in at 2.13-inches wide by 4.26-inches long by 0.46-inch thick, the Chocolate Touch weighs 4.17 ounces, making it on par with the average device. The 3.0-inch resistive LCD display houses 262,000 colors and 240 x 400 pixels.
The overall experience with touchscreen devices is relative. If the Chocolate Touch is your first touchscreen phone, you'll have no problem adjusting to the display. If you're migrating back to it from advanced smartphones like the Droid, iPhone, or Pre, you're going to notice a difference. At times, reviewing these devices can be challenging, as it requires me to open up my thoughts into three mindsets: (1) The user that is getting a touchscreen device for the first time; (2) the individual that is familiar with these types of devices and is simply migrating to a new phone; and (3) the person who is migrating back to a device like the Chocolate Touch after using a smartphone. Depending on what type of user you are, you're going to have a different experience.
Usability & Performance
The VX8575 supports a decent level of customization. Two display themes can be selected, and 12 wallpaper options are pre-loaded. The font size (for menus and general text) can be adjusted, and three different font types can be selected. Much like the Verizon devices of the past few years, elements of the stock Verizon interface can be seen, but it has been customized enough over the years to become an enjoyable experience. It supports instant messaging, e-mail, and Visual Voicemail, though the latter costs $3 monthly. Ringtones and graphics are pre-installed for customization purposes, with the option of purchasing more through Verizon's storefront. If you like games, the Chocolate Touch has you covered, as it offers Rock Band (which requires network usage) and Sims 3 out of the box. Other Verizon options like VZ Navigator, V CAST Videos, My Verizon, and Bing search are pre-installed as well. The Chocolate Touch includes an accelerometer for use in certain applications.
The key feature of the Chocolate Touch is music. Offering a dedicated music menu and FM radio functionality, Dolby Mobile functionality is where it's at. With five equalizer presets and a "rhythmical beat" option for those that want the phone to vibrate along with the music, it's easy to tell that the phone is geared toward media lovers. For those that want to join the band, the "Join the Band" option is there, bring up an on-screen instrument for the user to play. Needless to say, the feature is a lot of fun (though I think I'll be staying with my day job).
The Chocolate Touch ships with a 3.2-megapixel camera, and in my testing, most pictures came out well. Offering five resolutions, a self-timer, five white balance presets, special shot modes, five color effects, and three focusing modes. It doesn't offer a flash, so pictures can be a bit grainy in low light situations. Video recording was decent. While videos intended for transmission via MMS are limited in regards to time, you can shoot longer in standard mode (with a microSD card).
I tested the Chocolate Touch in the Charlotte area, and call quality was very good. Callers had no problem hearing me, and call quality was clear on my end as well. When I went to a known Verizon fringe spot in the area, I found calls to sound mostly clear, despite the phone fading in and out at various times. I successfully paired the Plantronics Voyager Pro Bluetooth headset to the device without issue. In working with the speakerphone, calls were clear. When testing the device in a coffee shop, I was able to hear my callers well.
Despite the Chocolate Touch being an EVDO Rev. 0 unit, data speeds were acceptable given the limitations. CNN Mobile loaded in 22 seconds, and the PhoneDog homepage loaded in 52 seconds. Other data-intensive tasks such as V CAST and VZ Navigator performed well throughout the testing. The VX8575 ships with an HTML web browser, which worked well for the most part. The only thing I was less than impressed with was the method of entering URL's. Instead of a built-in option, the phone requires you to go back to a URL-entry page each time you want to input a website. After browsing for more than five minutes, it gets a bit irritating.
Estimated talk time is 5.1 hours, and in my testing, battery life was reasonable. With moderate use encompassing text messaging, calling, e-mail, and web browsing, I was able to make it just over a day before the low battery warning flashed. With little to no use, the device lasted just under three days. As a media device, one full day of battery life with moderate usage is acceptable, in my opinion. Like any wireless device, battery numbers will vary with the level of usage that they're subjected to between charging cycles, but the VX8575 should be fine for the average consumer. For those frequently away from the home or office, there are other phones that may suit you better.
The Chocolate Touch is a welcome addition to the mid-range feature phone lineup at Verizon, with an absolutely fantastic music player. The phone offers reliable voice and data services, and battery life isn't too bad either. While I doubt that the smartphone user or is going to be swayed by the VX8575, it's a great choice for someone looking for a feature-rich multimedia device. Despite the ads, however, Shakira is not included with the purchase of the unit.