The LG CU515 is a good all around phone: not too large or too small, easy to pick up and use and comes with just enough multimedia features to satisfy the average consumer. However, none of the functions are powerful enough to interest the sophisticated set, and its most highly-touted multimedia capabilities actually require you to buy more equipment.
Features and Design
The LG CU515 phone is a clamshell, about two and a half inches tall and about one and a half inches wide when closed, and not very thick, making it about the size and shape of the popular Motorola RAZR. (With the CU515’s mainstream features, this probably was not an accident.) There is a bright, colorful screen that takes up most of the top half. The bottom half is a flat circular dial for quick access to email, phone, PC connection and file areas, as well as general menu navigation. The dial is surrounded by two traditional menu keys, call start and call end buttons, and other keys for quick access to the camera and other functions. A large number pad is below the dial. The keys are not raised, but the considerable size and slight indentations between buttons makes it easy to dial numbers fast.
Close the clam shell and a small black-and-white screen shows the current time and date as well as the email, battery and music status. A small pinhole above the screen is the camera lens. On the left side of the phone are the volume buttons and the Push To Talk key. (More on that later.) On the right side are two holes: one for the optional headphones and one for the microSD card.
Things are equally simple, if not decent on the inside. The LG CU515 hums on AT&T’s 3G network. AT&T’s MEdiaNet is like the internal Internet information hub, and from it you can quickly access the latest news. Most impressive are the minute-plus video clips available on the spot. A 90-second highlight of last night’s game could be downloaded in a few seconds. You can also press a button to turn the video widescreen (literally, as it requires holding the phone to its side like a toothbrush), which is a nice, if unnecessary perk. The real Internet was almost as fast, as we were able to zoom from URL to URL pretty efficiently. There isn’t much internal memory, but it is compatible with most, if not all microSD cards.
The LG CU515 comes with a power plug… and that’s it. No headphones, microSD card or other items are included. There also isn’t a USB transfer wire, despite the fact that the box touts the CU515 as a music phone.
Image Courtesy of LG Electronics
Setup and Use
On a more mundane level, making calls on the CU515 is a snap. The circular thumbpad and keypad are smooth and responsive. The four aforementioned icons on the thumbpad allow quick access to the different menu options.
The phone’s email is compatible with Yahoo!, AOL, AIM, Windows and other formats, so your current email provider is more than likely. The 1.3 MegaPixel camera isn’t especially powerful, but it does take crisp and clear pictures as well as decent video – even without a light source from the phone. It does require a steady hand, so avoid using it in shaky situations. The CU515 is also Bluetooth compatible.
The other multimedia functions leave much to be desired. It comes with AT&T Mobile Music which allows you to purchase music, listen to XM radio and watch music videos. Music purchasing seemed straightforward, as did XM radio (which gives you a three-day free trial). While the music is only $.99 USD a pop, you’re not going to be able to listen to your own music catalog until you pony up money for a microSD card (to store the music) and a USB transfer wire (to get the music off your computer). I can’t think of another next-gen music phone in recent memory that forces you to buy more equipment before you can actually listen to your own music.
Another feature, Push To Talk, allows you to find out if someone you’re trying to contact is available before you attempt to call. Think of it as a mobile IM, with icons for available, do not disturb or so on. It seemed like a decent, if superfluous, addition. Unfortunately, this will also cost you more money to use.
AT&T’s LG CU515 list price is $239.99 USD, which is well over what it is worth. On the other hand, the two-year contract commitment and a mail-in rebate, taking off $150 and $50, respectively, make the phone a $40 steal. It falls under AT&T’s standard data plan.
When considering the CU515, automatically add the cost of a USB transfer wire, headphones and, particularly, a microSD card to the bill. Check www.attwireless.com for the latest prices.
The LG CU515 is a fine phone with fast Internet access, versatile email and a decent camera. The problem is that the phone can’t be fully utilized until purchasing a handful of different accoutrements and services – some of which other phones provide right in the box. Despite its multimedia power, it’s best to look at the LG CU515 as a stripped-down phone – even though LG itself did the stripping.
• Solid camera
• Fast multimedia downloads
• Versatile email
• Stripped down phone
• Typically standard accessories cost extra