Take the square shape and QWERTY keyboard of the Samsung Propel. Mix in Sprint’s vertical carousel customizable One Click menu found on the Samsung Highnote and Rant. Give it a flip form factor. Voila, you have the LG Lotus, officially the LX600 from Sprint ($99.99 with contract and rebates). While the Lotus is a bit derivative, Sprint offers only two other messaging-centric models, the Samsung Rant and the LG Rumor. Both of these other non-smartphone QWERTY phones are less expensive than the Lotus, and are equipped with easier-to-use, wider keyboards. But Lotus’ 2.4-inch screen is brighter and easier to read, making it far superior for watching Sprint TV, and for both viewing and taking photos.
You get the usual array of features available in similarly-priced phones from Sprint: a music player that supports MP3 and AAC but not WMA, stereo Bluetooth, a 2-megapixel camera and camcorder, EVDO Web connectivity, POP3 and IMAP email, along with text and multimedia texting, Sprint’s instant messaging client, and the subscription Sprint Navigation with voice-prompted turn-by-turn directions.
The Lotus’ star attractions are its 2.4-inch, 240 x 320 wide-ish screen, and its wider body (about a half inch bigger than standard flip phones) to accommodate a full QWERTY keyboard.
Since it has a naturally wide screen, you don’t have to go vertical to view a wide photo, or watch a full-frame video.
The phone’s external 1.3-inch 128 x 160 pixel screen is also a bit larger than usual. Under the screen are three membrane music transport controls (skip back/rewind, play/pause, skip forward/fast forward). The volume toggle is on the left side above the multi-purpose micro-USB jack, which is above the 2.5mm headphone jack. Instant access music and camera buttons are on the right side, just above the microSD slot.
The keyboard keys are tightly packed, but a teen should have no problem pecking away at them. The trade-off is in the tiny embedded dialpad. Keys are brightly backlit for easy tapping in the dark.
The Lotus’ squarer shape makes it far more pocket-friendly than the Rant or Rumor, and the etched-flowered purple version is far funkier, if not a little effeminate, than the basic black edition.
Can a phone serve as a workable PMP?
Oui, oui, monsieur. Lotus’ display is bright, colorful and crisp, with little digitalization, even in direct sunlight. This makes viewing video or Sprint TV a pleasure.
We’ve never been thrilled with how Sprint ties its music store in with its phones’ music players, because you have to wait for Java to launch to get to your music.
Annoyingly, to transfer music to the phone via USB, you have to manually switch the phone into USB mode then to music transfer mode, instead of just connecting the USB cable and letting the devices, the operating systems and the software figure out what to do next.
Equally annoying, but par for the course with Sprint’s music phones, you can only shift to shuffle mode once the music is playing, not before. But you can keep the music playing while Web surfing, messaging, picture taking, and other activities. You can only adjust the volume, however, by toggling back to the music app.
Voices carry clear and crisp, with only a little of the usual cellphone tinniness. For a phone with such a tranquil name, the Lotus pumps out plenty of volume as well, making it easy to hear even while conversing in noisier environs. Twin speakers on the front of the phone make it possible to listen without headphones, but point the wrong way when the flip is opened.
We found Lotus’ EVDO connection for Web surfing a second or two faster than other Sprint phones. CNN’s mobile home page took around 7 seconds to load, but subsequent pages around 3-4 seconds; ESPN’s mobile home likewise loaded in a zippy 7 seconds. You can zoom font size easily, and the wider screen accommodated wider sentences in articles.
Outdoor pictures are delightfully crisp and colorful, even if blues tend toward the violet. Indoor shots, however, look dreadful. No matter how still we held the camera, we ended up with blurry shots, even in well-lit rooms, and the phone includes no flash to compensate. Zoom is also only available only at lower resolutions.
The Lotus’ rated 5.5-hour talk time held up in real life, as we managed to squeeze that amount use out of it in a couple of unscientific tests. It’s only rated at a below-average seven days standby, however. Factor in the usual power-sucking Bluetooth, music playing, picture taking and Web surfing, and we wouldn’t risk leaving the charger at home for a weekend trip.
The LG Lotus is a stylish and ergonomically well-designed phone, with a well-stocked basic features basket for texters who like to listen to music and surf the net. Sprint and LG still need to make some functions a bit more intuitive, however. Its bigger screen and square shape make it better choice than either the Rant or the Rumor, unless you’ve got chubbier fingers and need a wider keyboard.
- Large, bright screen
- Squarish body to accommodate full QWERTY keyboard
- Excellent sound with plenty of volume
- Solid outdoor pictures
- Speedy EV-DO Web surfing
- Above average talk time
- Poor indoor pictures
- Manual USB connectivity switching
- Below average standby life