Pitched as a friendly phone, the LG GW620 is LG’s first Android handset and it’s set on a par with the HTC Tattoo. It’s not meant for smartphone-toting technophiles, but for the middle-to-low end of the market. With both a serviceable 3.2-inch resistive touchscreen and a large slide-out Qwerty keyboard, will this lower-cost mix satisfy the average user?
What we like
The combination of a solid touchscreen (albeit resistive) and the hard Qwerty keyboard works really well. The screen is reasonably responsive, and the five-line keyboard is brilliantly spacious. The Android OS works really well with the hardware too. The handset itself is fairly small and light by today’s standards, but it doesn’t feel cheap, flimsy or insubstantial.
FM radio is always a nice addition, and the interface is nicely styled and easy to use. There’s a dedicated music button alongside the camera button we’re used to, and this is a welcome addition for anyone who regularly uses their handset to listen to music.The playback quality is not bad, and the interface sensibly laid out. And we always welcome a 3.5mm headphone jack so you can use any headphones you like.
The 5-megapixel camera with auto-focus does a good job and the gallery is nice to use, you can file your best photos in a favourites section for fast and easy access to them, which is something we’d like to see in more handset media galleries as storage sizes increase. Video editor and storyboarding tool will be a nice addition for budding young filmmakers and vloggers, although not sure how much use it’d get otherwise.
Of course, with Android OS you get access to the Android Market where you can download an array of apps to suit your needs – although the choice isn’t quite as varied or the quality quite as high as the iPhone’s more established App Store, we reckon it’ll improve massively over the course of 2010. And of course you’ll get the Google applications pre-loaded onto the phone – Google Maps, Gmail and YouTube, as well as a homescreen Google search bar.
The handset’s full name is the LG InTouch Max GW620, as it prides itself on its social networking features (for keeping InTouch – see what they did there) and as well as the dedicated social networking apps you can download from the Android Market, the handset comes with a Social Network Manager – here you can keep track of your Facebook, Twitter and Bebo accounts from one one application.
The onboard WebKit-powered browser is nice and nippy over Wi-Fi and can have several browser windows open at once.
What we don’t like
The handset takes quite a while to get going which we found a little frustrating, especially when we were in a hurry. Another minor annoyance was that the camera is raised on the back, so when you put the phone down on a flat surface it doesn’t sit flat. This might sound petty but it annoyed us every time we put the phone down!
Email set up was straight-forward enough, but it’s not very easy to force a check for email and push email will only update every 5 minutes. The GW620 also proceeded to load every email the account had received pre-December 2009 (a good two months ago at time of writing) and newer emails were nowhere to be seen. There was no way to see just the unread emails in our inbox, so while we knew there were unread emails, we could only wade through a long, never-ending list of emails we’d already seen months ago.
We’re never going to like resistive touchscreens as much as capacitive and the LG GW620 is no exception – particularly when we tried to use the handset’s Auto Face-Tagging function, we couldn’t get it to register where we were trying to click. Although it would finally concede that there were faces in our photos, it thought that every girl was the same girl, and refused to accept tags we had manually created. A bit of a let-down, all in all. When this feature works, you’re supposed to be able to call, text or visit your contacts’ social network profiles via their photos in your gallery but we just ended up calling the wrong person every time.
Call sound quality is passable but not quite as clear as we’d like with a bit of excess fuzz on the line.
Getting the handset to talk to our computer was the hardest we’ve had in a long time – even very basic phones haven’t had this trouble. We thought it was simply a case of plug and play, but we plugged, it tried to play, it failed to play, we downloaded the drivers, we installed the drivers and still it wouldn’t play despite our best efforts. So we gave up, and used the microSD and a card reader to copy music onto. Luckily the GW620 has an external microSD slot, otherwise it would have been more effort than it was worth.
So how friendly did we find LG’s little Android handset? The GW620 was amicable enough on the surface, with nice hardware and a great interface making us feel all warm and fuzzy. Unfortunately it left us feeling less than friendly after wasting time with our emails and trying to connect the handset to a computer via USB.
The LG GW620 is trying, it really is. It’s not a bad handset, and it’s full of nice ideas that just didn’t seem to work quite well enough for us. If you’re looking for a phone that will give you access to the Android OS and its apps, but aren’t too bothered about email or on-board features then the GW620 is a fairly safe bet.