Using your fingers to control the on-screen action is the latest smartphone trend, but the LG Incite handset instead relies on a small stylus to get the job done. The device’s web browsing and contact book organization features leave something to be desired, however, its very reasonable introductory price and otherwise smooth performance make it worth considering nonetheless.
Features & Design
The LG Incite is a solid candy bar model a la the iPhone and similar handsets. The phone measures four and a half inches by two inches, is just a half-inch thick, and has a slick, shiny silver and black shell. Weight-wise, it clocks in at only a few ounces, but the phone has a certain mass and heft, perhaps because of its metallic design.
The touch-screen is three inches in height and surrounded by a half-inch border with the company logos. The colors are strong, but slightly muted because of the dark exterior.
Below the screen are two buttons, the traditional green go button and the red stop/power button. By the red button is a virtually hidden microphone hole.
The left side of the phone has a stylus connector, the charge/cable slot, volume keys and a reset pinhole (which, like some modems, resets the system when pushed by a straightened paper clip). The right side has a jog wheel, the microSD slot, a keypad lock button and a camera button. The headphone jack is at the top.
The LG Incite is a quad-band GSM phone, covering 850, 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz, so it can be used in multiple countries easily. Through AT&T, the Incite has solid Internet browsing capabilities and uses the 3G network, the fastest mainstream network in the country.
Setup & Use
For a smartphone, LG has wisely kept the included contents small. Inside is the phone, a mini-USB cord, a wall outlet, a small, sturdy stylus and a Windows Mobile 6.1 CD. There is also a thick, but readable instruction booklet, which is also available on the CD. There are no included headphones, but the Incite has no proprietary set, so feel free to plug in your favorite ones.
The default startup screen is a sharp overview of what you’ll need to know. Turn it on and it will give the time and date, Wi-Fi, Inbox, calendar appointments, IM and so on. These aren’t the actual icons typically employed in everyday use – for instance, IM actually has a dedicated icon unto itself – but do provide a quick information bite. Double click on the info line, however, and you’ll be transported to that particular function as if you’d activated the actual icon. It isn’t the cleanest look, but it is one of the more information-ready start-up screens on the mainstream smartphone market. Need to know about an appointment today? It’s all listed right there, as opposed to waiting for an alarm or actually finding the calendar icon and scanning yourself. Information overload can easily be avoided too. Press the menu arrow and most of the details presented here disappear, leaving just the time, date and current background. You can also turn the phone horizontally, switching the orientation and eliminating the additional info.
Along the very bottom of the screen are the more traditional smartphone icons – phone, contacts, messages, favorite apps and all apps menu. Let’s discuss the phone itself first.
The LG Incite employs a relatively simple setup. A large number pad takes up most of the screen. On the right side are three icons – one to dial, one to see the call history and one to erase the previous number. Below are the self-explanatory words Contact and Menu. During testing, we found that these virtual numbers responded fairly accurately to the touch of the stylus, though, as is the case in other menus, activating them requires a heavier press than is necessary when utilizing competitors’ touch-screens. During an actual call a separate list of six options come up, including the standard hold, mute and so on. The most useful is Note, which allows notation of the call. The system automatically sets the name, number, and date and time. Of course, a note can only be written when you don’t have the phone to your ear, so expect to use a (separately sold) wire mic, a wireless Bluetooth or the included speaker option.
The contact function is very, for lack of a better term, old-school. A virtually black-and-white listing displays your contacts in alphabetical order, but the list itself can be sped through using the symbols/letters at the top of the screen. The first grouping is “#ab”, the second is “cde”, and so on. There’s nothing wrong with the organization, but it seems like LG had other, more modern options it could’ve chosen from instead, like displaying all the alphabet letters and letting the user just click on the appropriate one. There is a name query box at the top, but this requires typing in enough of the name or company for the phone to recognize it. Either way, the Incite’s contacts feature will prove inefficient for anyone with a fat address book.
The messages section includes both text and email. The text messaging is standard stuff, and the email is based on Microsoft Outlook. It uses Microsoft’s proprietary ActiveSync 4.5, done automatically with the aforementioned mini-USB cord.
Finally, the favorite apps feature is based on the apps section. Apps are split into the categories of phone, multimedia, business functions and general settings. The LG Incite comes with AT&T Music and the voice-active AT&T GPS. It also has the exclusive (to AT&T) MEdia Mall and MEdia Net to download multimedia and received a catered Internet experience, respectively.
Using MEdia Net, the browser experience is passable, but not great. Website downloading was a bit slow – at least for 3G – though the stylus provided a decent way to navigate around online pages. Clicking on links requires the usual double tap, which worked fine. Based on the performance of other phones, the sluggish Web access may not be the fault of the phone, but of the network, especially considering that it had full bars during our tests.
Surprisingly, the strongest multimedia aspect of the phone is its camera, which is surprisingly crisp and efficient. The easiest way to access it is to hold the camera button on the right-hand side. Keep it down for a few seconds, wait a couple seconds on the load screen, and you’re ready to point and shoot. The 3 megapixel camera is sharp, especially since it has no flash, and snapshots can be immediately saved or mailed after they are taken.
The LG Incite is $349.99 MSRP, about average for a smartphone of this caliber. At launch AT&T offered a $150 off for a 2-year commitment, knocking it down to $199.99, and further gave a $100 mail-in rebate, making the smartphone a very cheap $99.99. As with most smartphones, plan on investing in a microSD card. More information is available at wireless.att.com.
The LG Incite is a decent smartphone, though certain hang-ups, like the relative heavy-handedness required when using the stylus and AT&T’s slow 3G web browsing, keep it from taking any crowns. The current introductory price of $99, however, makes it worth a look.
- Affordable introductory price
- Easy to use
- Excellent camera
- Okay browsing capabilities
- Touchscreen requires heavyhandedness
- Cumbersome contact book