LG GW620 Eve/Etna Review

After playing with this phone for almost a week now, I can say that I am very impressed. Not since the first time I played with a Palm Pro have I been so enamoured of a handheld computer. This little beauty is amazing! I know it’s not as slick as the Droid, but it fills a sweet spot in the market that I am smack dab in the middle of. It’s a tiny, powerful, android based smartphone with a full slide out querty keyboard – and it’s actually smaller than any other handheld I’ve ever owned. Plus, with a 3 year contract it only cost me $50 Canadian! Bonus!

To be fair, there are a few things I don’t like about it:

  1. The “LG IME” predictive text helper / software keyboard is horrible. Really, really, horrible. Turn it off as soon as you can. For the longest time I thought the space bar was broken because of the way the IME uses the first space to select the word, and the 2nd to actually insert a space. Sad, and on a full keyboard it’s completely pointless. But, it’s easy to turn off, and once it’s off the keyboard behaves the way a keyboard should. 🙂
  2. It’s Android 1.5 instead of 1.6 or 2.0. It’s a small gripe, really, and I assume it’ll be fixed in the near future with an over-the-air software upgrade. Still, it would have been nice if this new device came installed with the current version of Android. Version 1.5 works fine, however, and most of the missing features are fairly minor.
  3. The battery. The battery lasts me all day from 8am to 8pm under fairly heavy use with wifi on. Barely. I’m sure I could save a tonne of power and add a few more hours on to that by turning wifi off, but why use my data-plan when I have wifi at home + work? Still, I’ve yet to actually run out of power, and since it comes with a handy USB cable, I can charge it from my laptop in a pinch.
  4. The home and back buttons are too sensitive. Maybe it’s just my big paws, but I often end up exiting the app I’m using by mistake. It’s happening less now than when I first got the device, but it’s still an issue.

That’s it. Everything else is awesome:

  1. The OS. Android is amazing! The number of apps, utilities, and games is astounding. Plus, as a bonus most of them are free! I’ll cover the highlights a little farther down.
  2. My phone has a command prompt, and I didn’t void my warranty to get it. Hear that apple?
  3. 5mp auto-focus camera with LED flash that can also take fairly high res video. It works well, and takes a waaay better pic than my Blackberry does. It’s not a dedicated digital camera, but it’s as close as I would expect to come in a PDA/Smartphone
  4. Size – this device is as small as I would want it to be. Small enough that it fits in the front pocket of my jeans without problem, but big enough that it doesn’t feel too cramped
  5. The keyboard is backlit! Awesome for working in the dark!
  6. Has a build in GPS/Compass/Accelerometer. This device knows where it is, and which way it’s pointed, which opens the door for some truly astounding apps – e.g. Google Sky.
  7. The touch screen. A LOT of people are complaining that it’s not a capacitive multi-touch. Phoey to them, I say. I think LG made the right call making this a resistive touchscreen. It means you can use a stylus, and sometimes that’s important. This device is small, and my fingers are big. When I’m RDP’d in to a server the start menu button is about the smallest thing I can reliably hit without a stylus of some sort.
  8. Wifi! Free data when I’m at home or at work. Cuts down on the data package requirements by a massive amount!
  9. Media – It plays DivX and MP4 movies. Sweet! I can watch some Connections or Red Dwarf while waiting for the bus.

Mostly what I’m using this device for is as a mobile internet device. I already have a Blackberry tethered to my hip for work, but I needed something that could get me online while I’m on the phone on the BB. E.g. Someone calls me. A server is having issues. I can be on a bus, or at a cafe, or anywhere – whip out the LG, open an RDP session to the server, and fix the problem. For me, the RDP client available for it is the killer app. But, as a bonus I get all kinds of other fun apps. Here’s a brief rundown of my favourite Android apps so far – in no particular order:

  1. wpToGo – I could be writing this blog entry on the Eve. The client is perfect. Small, tight, and does everything required for a quick post or edit.
  2. Touchdown – ActiveSync exchange synching for Android. It’s amazing! Miles beyond what the built in stuff does. Absolutely required if you have an exchange server you’d like to talk to.
  3. Google Maps – Duh. Never get lost again!
  4. Google Sky Map – Truly amazing. Lie on the beach, gaze up at the night sky, wonder what that star is? Hold your Eve up beside the star and there it is on the screen complete with constellations. The device can tell which way it’s pointed and where you are, so it’s totally effortless to find the star you’re looking at. Beautiful!
  5. Remote RDP – Remote Desktop in the palm of your hand. You can connect to your machine at home, or servers at work. Fantastic for more things than I can mention here. If you manage any servers at all this app is a must have.
  6. Samba Explorer – Browse and copy files off network shares on to your SD card.
  7. ShopSavvy – Scans barcodes with the camera and finds deals nearby. A killer app for any shopaholic.

Oh, and did I mention the games? There are a few really well done Tower Defence games, logic puzzles, bejewelled clones, and the like. However the killer for me are the emulators. NES, SNES, Sega, Commodore 64. Even ScummVM has been ported to run all those fantastic old LucasArts games! I have The Curse of Monkey Island in the palm of my hand!

Basically, I can not imagine a better deal. $50 for this phone is a total and complete steal. if you’re in Canada and in the market for a great smartphone on a budget the LG GW620 deserves serious consideration.