What's Good: Build quality; fantastic reception; battery life is respectable.
What's Bad: No EVDO; picture quality is poor; font size may be too small for some.
Despite the seemingly endless talk about smartphones, there's still a market for regular, reliable cell phones. Quite frankly, we doubt that grandma (most, at least), the ten year old, and those using it as a backup device want or need a fully equipped PDA. That being said, the LG LX290 is a perfect entry-level smartphone for them to consider. Despite a lack of EVDO and a meager 1.3-megapixel camera, is it a device worthy of owning?
The left side of the LX290 houses the volume rocker, microUSB charging port, and a 2.5mm headphone jack, while the right side sports a shortcut to voice dialing and the camera. The front of the device sports a navigational pad with five buttons: two shortcut keys, send, back, and end. Slide the device to reveal the numeric keypad, along with four dedicated shortcut keys: text messaging, e-mail, alarm clock, and calendar. The camera is located on the back.
LG doesn't offer a lot in the box; the LX290 ships with the device, battery, a charger, and instruction manual. Coming in at 4.09 inches long by 1.94 inches wide by 0.63 inch thick, the LX290 weighs in at 3.6 ounces, making it lightweight and good for everyday use. The 2.2-inch LCD display houses 262,000 colors and is 240 x 320 pixels. For a low-end device, the display is quite impressive.
We've said it before, and it should be repeated: Sprint's "One Click" user interface is great, but like other devices, the only frustration that we had centered around the inability to change the overall font size (font size changes on the LX290 are limited to messages, browsing, notepad, and dial digits). The standard size was decent for us, but those with vision troubles should have a look at the LX290 in-store prior to purchasing. Offering Sprint Navigation, Sprint Family Locator, Nascar Sprint Cup Mobile, NFL Mobile Live, instant messaging, and e-mail support (including Microsoft Exchange), the phone is ready to go out of the box. The device can also be personalized by purchasing wallpaper, screensavers, and ringtones.
The LG LX290 ships with a meager 1.3-megapixel camera, and in our testing, image quality was below average. Though somewhat grainy, our test pictures were decent in daylight, but were unimpressive in low light situations due to the lack of a flash. Camera features include three quality settings (fine, normal, and economy) three picture resolutions (1280 x 960, 640 x 480, and 320 x 240), brightness, a self-timer, four shutter tones, night mode, and five white balance options. The LX290 doesn't offer a video camera.
The LX290 was tested in the Charlotte area, and call quality was absolutely fantastic. Callers had no problem hearing us, and call quality was near-perfect on our end as well. At one of the known Sprint fringe areas in the city, we found calls to sound equally clear, with the device rarely dipping below one bar of service. We successfully paired the Plantronics Voyager Pro Bluetooth headset to the device, and Bluetooth quality was clear and easy to use. When testing the speakerphone in a grocery store, it was sufficiently loud, but sound quality was slightly diminished.
Despite being a 1xRTT phone, data speeds on the LX290 were reasonable, given the limitations. The full PhoneDog homepage loaded in 47 seconds, and other data-intensive programs loaded without significant lag. As with most regular devices, a significant amount of scrolling was required for browsing a page from beginning to end, it was usable. Obviously, web browsing isn't the primary focus of the LX290, so be sure to keep that in mind when considering it.
Estimated talk time is 6 hours, and in our testing, battery life was very good. With moderate use encompassing text messaging, calling, e-mail, and the occasional web surfing, we made it just over three days before the device powered down. With little to no use, the device lasted just under seven days. As with any wireless phone, battery numbers will vary with the level of usage that they're subjected to between charging cycles, but the LX290 is a champ in the battery life department.
For the target market, the LX290 is a fantastic device, and a welcome addition to Sprint's lineup. It's not going to convert those used to feature-rich smartphones, but the device is perfect for someone who is looking for a basic device that works well. Call quality is fantastic, battery life is respectable, and build quality is superb. In regards to the font size, be sure to check it out in a store prior to purchase.