What's Good: Another good Android device on Verizon, tactile and responsive physical keyboard, Android 2.1 out of the box.
What's Bad: Sluggish at times, camera is ho-hum in comparison to the 5 and 8-megapixel alternatives on the Android market today.
Verdict: Though the lack of a Snapdragon processor and the 3.2-megapixel camera firmly entrench this device in the mid-range category, the LG Ally is a welcome addition to the Verizon lineup of Android devices.
The Ally ships in a small box with the device, battery, AC adapter, USB cable (which doubles as the charging cord), and instruction manuals. Though it ships with a 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen display, it wasn't nearly as responsive as I would have liked. In the time that I've worked with it, I've had to tap several icons two or more times to get the screen to work properly. The device is pretty packed on the button side, with the volume rocker and microUSB charging port on the left, and microSD card slot and camera on the right. The 3.5mm headphone jack is on the top, and the camera is on the back.
The LG Ally offers a QWERTY keyboard, and though I'm not a huge fan of sliding keyboards, the keys on the Ally are tactile and quite responsive. Like a lot of the condensed QWERTY devices on today's market, I wish there was an additional row for the space bar and some of the symbols. The phone sports Android 2.1 out of the box, a welcome improvement over Android 1.5 and 1.6 that is often found in the mid-range category. Though LG offers a custom "theme" to go with it, it can be easily turned on and off, leaving the device highly customizable for those that choose to take advantage of it.
Surprisingly, the LG Ally offers a 3.2-megapixel camera, and while it takes decent pictures, it's no comparison to the 5-8-megapixel alternatives on the market. Complete with flash, autofocus, and digital zoom, it's well equipped. Editing options include eight effects, white balance, and and ISO settings. There's a slight shutter lag, but it's not nearly as bad as other smartphones. The Ally also offers video recording, and quality was equally decent.
I've been testing the Ally in the Charlotte metropolitan area, and in my testing to date, call quality has been good thus far. I've experienced no dropped calls, and overall call quality is very clear and crisp. Speakerphone is on par with most other smartphones, and my Plantronics Voyager Pro Bluetooth headset connected without issue. Though I haven't conducted formal testing just yet, overall data speeds seem to be reasonably fast. The mobile CNN homepage loaded in seven seconds, and other data-intensive apps like Google Maps, the Android Market, and the Amazon MP3 Store loaded without delay.
The Ally can be pre-ordered online at VerizonWireless.com for $99.99 after a $100 online discount. While the rumored launch date (and ship date for those pre-orders) is May 27th, nothing has been set in stone as of yet. Stay tuned for my full review of the device!