The Reluctant Technologist on the LG enV3

For all its pros, the enV2’s slicker younger sibling has got plenty of cons. Read on for the good, the bad and the just plain weird.

The good:

Definitely a design improvement over the previous iteration, the phone is attractive and the qwerty keyboard is easy to get used to. The camera takes high quality pictures that look great on the clear inner screen, good enough on the smaller outer screen, and hold up when you upload them.

Call and sound quality are fine. Not amazing, but at least adequate. Battery life, especially given two full color screens, is outstanding.

Flipped open, the top feels sturdy, and stays open in two positions — flat, or at an angle for better viewing — and the speakers project well.

Similar to the iPhone, the enV3 gives you the option of organizing your text messages by contact rather than date, so you can retrace a conversation, or months’ worth of conversations. You can also text/read texts from the front screen, though the organization can get wonky.

Web access and mobile email (with customizable new mail alerts) are good, if not phenomenal. The delay can be anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes from the time an email arrives. If you’re looking for BlackBerry functionality, get a BlackBerry.

The bad:

Closed, the keypad does auto-lock, but the lock, undone with just a press of the OK button, is not robust. I’ve found myself butt dialing once again. We, as a cell-using race, should really be past this by now. The alternative option of putting in a locking code feels like more hassle than its worth (unless you’re the paranoid type and do this anyway).

The vibrate should be stronger — the subtle vibe can lead to missed calls, even while tucked into those tight jeans.

(With flip closed) On older LG phones, while typing text messages in predictive mode you could go back to a word that you forgot to next and next it later. That is, say you wrote “Heading good now” instead of “Heading home now,” (since “good” comes before “home” in the T9 hierarchy for that key combination) you could just back up the cursor to after “good,” hit the next button and choose “home” instead. For some reason you can’t do that anymore (once you type it, it’s typed), and in such scenarios you have to delete the word letter by letter and type it again. It’s a pain, one of those things that seems minor, but annoys time and again.

Front screen scratches easily.

The just plain weird:

Every now and then it shuts off on its own. No warning, just off. Many users have complained of this on Verizon’s website. Along with occasional screen freezes this indicates bugs that require immediate attention.

When composing a text message with the full keyboard, the keys are set to “abc,” or no-initial-caps. Being a stickler this means I have to hit Shift before each sentence. But being lazy, it also means that I write a lot of text messages in all small letters, which shames me. The default is the same when writing emails, too, but there, one hit of the Shift key gets you ALL CAPS, and only after two is it correct. Where is the logic in this? Especially for emails one would think that proper capitalization would be first, then no caps and only THEN all caps. Am I the only one who thinks about these things? (Please, don’t answer that.)

You can take photos with the flip open (be careful with the fingers on your right hand – they’re likely to obscure the lens), or with it closed. And that’s cool. But shooting closed you have to turn the phone sideways (so it’s aligned as though the top is up). And that’s really awkward. Better move would have been to design the device to rotate the picture when you open the flip. Duh.

The bottom line: This phone is kind of awesome. So it’s too bad that it’s so shitty. Wait til they work out the kinks.

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