LG has finally jumped on to the Android bandwagon with the GW620 smartphone with a hardware keyboard. Let’s see how the LG holds up in our tests.
The GW620 comes packed with features including Wi-Fi, GPS and 3G support. It has a reasonably sized 3 inch screen and a 5 megapixel camera with flash. It has all standard ports, using a 3.5mm jack for headphones and a microUSB port. The LG has 150MB of internal memory and comes with a 2GB microSD card.
The phone uses Android v1.5 and LG has added a bunch of extra applications. One of these is the Social Networking Service Manager (SNS) that lets you manage your Facebook, Twitter and Bebo accounts from a single application. If your company has a Microsoft Exchange Account setup then the GW620 offers an entire suite of Moxier applications that let you sync your tasks, schedules, contacts and mails with your company’s server. The phone also has a Quickoffice suite that lets you open Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.
Of course, the great advantage of any Android phone is its excellent integration with Google Mobile Services and availability of apps through Android Market. Using the GW620, you can sync your phone and Google contacts, check your Gmail account, chat on GTalk or get navigation using Google Maps. If you cannot find an app for something you need, chances are you will find it on the excellent Android marketplace, which is simpler to use than even the iPhone’s app store.
Design & Usability
Like the Samsung CorbyPRO, the GW620’s design is portly thanks to the slide-out keyboard. The model we received used glossy black plastic, a metallic frame and a matte silver back. Its looks will not win it any awards and it is quite heavy. However, I couldn’t ascertain any problems with its build quality and there are no unwanted creaks or shakes and even the keyboard slides out smoothly. Also, the LG’s 3.0-inch screen could have been much better especially under sunlight where it becomes almost entirely illegible.
The GW620’s five-row keyboard is certainly one of the best I’ve come across on a phone. The keys are large and separated to make typing very efficient.With respect to the UI, the GW620 gives you two options- the default Android interface or the LG interface that makes the Android UI look like LG’s own S-class interface. However, unlike what HTC has done with its Sense UI in the Tattoo, LG’s modifications don’t add up to much. The interface is slightly sluggish and I could feel that sluggishness when scrolling through the menu or lists. This gets aggravated when accessing applications as there is an overlong pause. However, none of these issues warrant too much criticism. What needs to be criticized is the phone’s call quality which made voices sound over sharp but tiny.
Browsing & Multimedia
I had no problems using the phone’s default browser to surf the Web. Sites like Cricinfo Mobile and Gamepro looked fine on the browser although it doesn’t support Flash content. If you want to watch YouTube videos though, you can use the stand-alone YouTube app.
The GW620’s 5MP camera is hugely disappointing. It has terrible focusing issues and its auto-focus didn’t work more than half of the time during my test. In fact, I was forced to shoot most pictures in macro mode since that was the only way the camera could focus on something. The LG does offer a number of features for shooting pictures but the images are average. The videos I recorded were quite poor too.
On the other hand, like on other LG phones, the GW620 has very good music playback. Audio playback is sufficiently loud and clear and with a decent pair of earphones, it should please most users. The LG boasts of “out of the box” DivX and XviD support but the truth is that it only supports videos at 480×360 resolution. Therefore, you will still need an external media converter to be able to watch most movies on the phone. Video playback is acceptable and I didn’t notice any frame-rate issues.
The LG GW620 has a Market Operating Price of US$419 and is available for purchase. At that price if you are looking for a smartphone with a hardware keyboard, then the Nokia N97mini is a better option. However, if you want the unique combination of an Android platform with a keyboard then the GW620 is a good buy.