Review: LG GW620

Our score: 3/5
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December 8, 2009 5:54 PM
 
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Published: December 7, 2009 11:00 PM
By Tristan François
LG is one of the big phone makers that had yet to produce an Android handset, but that's changed with this new mobile.  While most of its competitors tried the new platform with relatively high-end products, the GW660 is a more accessible smartphone that's a direct competitor to Motorola's Dext, amongst others.

The GW620 might well be an entry-level product, but that doesn't mean its design looks cheap or rushed.  On the contrary, LG has managed to produce a very solid handset which fits together nicely.  The same is true of the keyboard, which might not be as impressive as what you'd find on a BlackBerry or a Nokia, but is very useable nonetheless.  On the front, there is a single physical button, which, apart from the buttons on the side, is the only one, as the Home and Back buttons are both touch-sensitive. 

The GW620 sits comfortably in your hand, and the Teflon coating on the back means it won't slip easily.  It's only when you're handling it that you realise how small it really is, despite being relatively thick and pretty heavy.

 

LG GW620 vs Blackberry Bold 9000 vs Samsung Omnia Pro B7610

Once you get it going, the interface is classic Android, and LG hasn't done much to adapt the look and feel, with the only real change being the use of icons found in its S-class phones like the Chocolate, for instance.  The home screen includes several shortcuts, and although they give access to the most common features (telephone, mail, contacts and apps), you unfortunately can't customise them.

You can also spot the S-class influence in the apps menu, where LG has indulged in its habits of sorting items by theme, rather than in alphabetical order.  If you're used to an Android phone, it can be off-putting, but you soon get used to it.  And LG has included plenty of nice little apps and widgets, too.

 


When you're looking at the screen, it's important to remember that we're dealing with an entry-level phone here, so there's no need to get disappointed by the 3'' display on offer, even if we are used to more.  We nevertheless found it to be very powerful, with more precision and responsiveness than we were expecting: it's definitely closer to the HTC Hero than it is to the Samsung Galaxy.
While surfing the web, the Android browser is as useful as ever, with web pages very well handled.  Chrome Mobile doesn't need to blush next to Safari Mobile when it comes to speed.  The same is true for e-mail, but we're not sure if the Push Mail app we tested was provided by LG or the mobile network.  It's very easy-to-use, but sill a long way from providing the rich features needed by professional users.

Things aren't as fun when you have to try writing an e-mail, though.  The physical keys might well stick out of the case, but they're so flat that it's very hard to feel the gaps between each one, which doesn't make for very pleasant typing.  Using blue backlighting on a blue keyboard is also a questionable decision, as it doesn't do anything to improve visibility.  Moving the arrow keys away from the letters and numbers would also have been a good idea, to make them easier to use.

The most irritating aspect, though, is the touch-sensitive Home and Back buttons.  It's all to easy to accidentally brush across one of these two and then have to start what you were doing before all over again.  It's another sign that the current fad for touchscreen devices isn't perfect for every situation.  Unfortunately, the accelerometer doesn't work for all apps (even though this is something that can in theory be configured in Android).  This is even more frustrating as in portrait mode, only a numeric keypad is available, instead of a full QWERTY keyboard.


The GW620's blue keyboad while browsing the web

Photography isn't really an area where the GW620 shines.  The main source of problems is a white balance that seems completely wrong: photos look red.  The photo gallery app is nicely done, though, and LG has even modified the standard Android tools, putting photos and video in the same folder, for instance, and allowing you to add photos to contacts and so on.  We're glad to see the inclusion of a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack, even if the media player is still held back by the limitations of Android 1.5 that we saw on the Galaxy.

Don't forget that the built-in GPS receiver will no doubt prove very interesting if this phone benefits from the updates to Google's navigation software that are expected to be released soon.

Battery life should reach two days for conventional use, but if you make heavy use of the Internet and multimedia features, you won't want to forget your charger.  Fortunately, it includes a micro USB port, a charging interface that seems to becoming more and more widespread following the European Commission's decision.

Compare the LG GW620 to other mobile phones and digital cameras in our Product Face-Off
3/5 LG GW620 DigitalVersus 2009-12-08 00:00:00

Pros

  • Pretty small, despite including a physical keyboard
  • Solidly built
  • A great way into Android

Cons

  • Not much work on the interface
  • Two touch-sensitive buttons not a very useful addition
  • Keyboard needs work, doesn't help typing
  • Photo quality behind the times

Conclusion

The GW620 isn't the best phone we've ever seen, but it doesn't have any pretensions to that, either. Its main role is as an entry-level smartphone, and it's a great way to try this type of handset, and Google's Android OS, for the first time.

OUR SCORE 3/5
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