Despite the many advanced feature phones out there, there’s definitely still a market for simpler phones without too many bells and whistles. Take the LG LX290 from Sprint, for example, which doesn’t even have 3G or a music player. It does, however, offer GPS with turn-by-turn directions, plenty of e-mail options, Bluetooth, and a no-frills 1.3-megapixel camera. We also like its smart slider design and the four dedicated shortcut keys on the number keypad. So if you want a fairly simple phone with a good number of features, the LX290 might be for you. The LG LX290 is quite affordable, as well, for only $29.99 after a two-year service agreement and a mail-in rebate.
The LG LX290 has a simple yet attractive slider design. It measures 4.09 inches long by 1.94 inches wide by 0.63 inch thick, and it is wrapped in a smooth and matte black chassis with rounded corners all around. The phone is lightweight at 3.6 ounces and feels comfortable when held in the hand and when held up to the ear. The slider mechanism feels solid; it opens and closes with a reassuring “click” even after repeated use.
We like the 2.17-inch display on the front. It has support for 262,000 colors and 240×320-pixel resolution, which results in colorful images and sharp legible text. You can adjust the screen’s backlight time, the menu style, and the font size for messages, the browser, the notepad, and the dialing digits.
Underneath the display is the navigation array, which consists of two soft keys, a round navigation toggle with a middle confirmation key, the Talk and End/Power keys, and the Back key. The toggle doubles as shortcuts to four user-defined functions. The navigation keys are somewhat flat to the phone’s surface, but they have a nice give when pushed. On the left spine are the headset jack, the volume rocker, and the charger jack. The right spine is home to a dedicated camera key and a key that brings up the recent call history with a short press and the voice command controls with a longer press. On the back is the camera lens, but there is no flash or self-portrait mirror, which is a disappointment.
The LG LX290 has four shortcut keys above the number keypad.
When you slide the phone up, you’ll reveal a number keypad plus four unique shortcut keys at the very top. These shortcut keys lead directly to the text messaging menu, your e-mail in-box, the alarm clock, and the calendar. Though these functions are easy to get to within the menu, we think it’s nice to have quick access to these frequently used features. All of the keys are well spaced and are in the form of raised bumps, making it easy to dial by feel.
The LG LX290 has a 600-entry phone book, and each entry has space for seven phone numbers, two e-mail addresses, a memo, a Web address, an instant-messenger ID, a street address, a birthday, job title, and company name. You can even set the contact to be hidden in your phone book (by selecting Secret or No Secret). You can also save the entry to a caller group, pair it with a photo for caller ID, one of 34 polyphonic ringtones, or one of four vibration types.
Other basic features include text and multimedia messaging, a speakerphone, a vibrate mode, an alarm clock, a calendar, a world clock, a calculator, a notepad, and a unit converter. The LX290 also has a wireless Web browser, USB syncing, Bluetooth, voice control, GPS with support for Sprint Navigation and Sprint Family Locator, and instant messaging (AIM, Windows Live, and Yahoo). You also have a variety of e-mail options, from online providers like AOL Mail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, and Gmail, to your own POP or IMAP account.
You can also access your work e-mail and calendar if your company uses Microsoft Exchange–the LX290’s e-mail app uses Outlook Web Access to retrieve that information. If your company doesn’t use OWA, then you’ll have to sign up for Sprint’s Mobile Email Personal Account, which requires you to install software on your work computer. The OWA method is definitely faster and easier if you can use it.
The LG LX290 has a 1.3-megapixel camera on the back.
The LG LX290 has a simple 1.3-megapixel camera. You can take pictures in three resolutions (1,280×960, 640×480, and 320×240) and three quality settings. Other settings include four color tones, five preset white balance modes plus a manual option, nine fun frames, brightness, a self-timer, night mode, and four shutter tones plus a silent option. Photo quality was average. Images looked quite overcast and slightly blurry. There’s no built-in video recorder.
The LG LX290 takes average photos.
Personalization options on the LX290 consist of a variety of wallpaper, graphics, screensavers, and alert tones. It also comes with a few games like demo versions of Block Breaker 2, Pac-Man Plus, and Tetris. You’ll have to purchase them to get the full versions. To get these and more, just download them via the Sprint mobile store on the Web browser.
We tested the LG LX290 in San Francisco using Sprint’s network. Call quality was excellent. On our end, callers sounded very clear, with hardly any static or ambient noise. Voices sounded natural for the most part. In speakerphone mode, they did sound a bit tinny and harsh, but still quite loud and crisp.
On their end, callers said we sounded so clear it was almost as if we were calling from a landline. Our voice sounded natural without a lot of static or harshness. They could hear a slight bit of echo and background noise, but nothing too bad.
The LG LX290 has a rated battery life of 6 hours talk time and a standby time of 7 days. The tested talk time was a tad longer at 6 hours and 48 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the LG LX290 has a digital SAR of 1.3 watts per kilogram.