The Good The LG Phoenix is an attractive Android smartphone that ships with Android 2.2. Features include Wi-Fi and portable hot-spot capability, GPS, 3G, quad-band support, Bluetooth, and a 3.2-megapixel camera.
The Bad The LG Phoenix can’t play Flash video in the browser. AT&T 3G coverage was spotty and a little unreliable. Preloaded AT&T apps are not removable.
The Bottom Line The LG Phoenix is a very affordable option for those seeking an entry-level Android smartphone on AT&T Wireless.
Visit for details.
LG Phoenix (AT&T)
The first LG Optimus initial phone to arrive in the US was the LG Optimus T for T-Mobile. Optimus T was designed by its international cousin, the Optimus One, for surprisingly great features for the base smartphone. These included 3G support, Wi-Fi and a mobile hotspot for up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices. It also came with Android 2.2, which was the latest Android OS at the time. More surprising was its price – you could get it for $ 30 a contract.
Since then, several more entry-level Optimus phones have debuted, each with a different carrier (Optimus S, Vortex, Optimus M , the Optimus V , and so on). The one major carrier that was missing from the list was AT&T. That is, until the LG Phoenix. While it doesn’t share the Optimus name, it certainly has the same lineage. The design stays true to the Optimus brand, and the features are similar as well. Of course, it wouldn’t be an Optimus handset if it wasn’t affordable–the LG Phoenix is only $49.99 with a two-year contract with AT&T.
As you might expect, the LG Phoenix looks a lot like most Optimus phones. 4.46 inches wide, 2.32 inches wide, 0.52 inches deep, it’s slim and light, with the same curved angles and a hint of silver on the sides. It has a smooth matte finish that gives it a comfortable grip, and its 3.2-inch capacitive display is just as colorful with 262,000 colors and a resolution of 320×480 pixels. Even the placement of the camera lens, volume rocker, power button, headset connectors, and charger are the same as, for example, the Optimus T.
The LG Phoenix is a simple, entry-level Android smartphone that is slim and attractive.
This does not mean that Phoenix is an exact clone of other phones. The location of the Android buttons is a bit different – first the menu key, then the Home, Back, and Search keys. The Home and Back keys are on the same silver bar.
There are also slight differences in the user interface. Although it has the same Android 2.2 Froyo interface as the rest, it comes with a dedicated LG virtual keyboard as well as a default Android keyboard. Unlike some other Optimus phones, Phoenix does not ship with Swype. However, you can download Swype yourself. The shortcuts at the bottom of the home screen look similar to those in U-optimal – they are designed to dial a phone number, contact list, main menu, messenger, and browser.
As we mentioned, the LG Phoenix comes with Android 2.2 . We hope it will has been updated to Android 2.3 in the future–LG has promised it, but we have not had confirmation from AT&T. Yet, we’re still happy with version 2.2 as an operating system for an entry-level smartphone. Some of Froyo’s more valuable features include voice dialing over Bluetooth, app sharing, and phonebook integration with Facebook and Twitter contacts. Even though Android 2.2 does support Flash video in the browser, the Phoenix doesn’t have this feature due to hardware limitations. You can still play Flash video, but only with YouTube or third-party applications.
While it’s not the most powerful Android phone on the market, the Phoenix is no slouch, either. This quad-band phone can work internationally and supports AT&T’s 3G network. It also has stereo Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi, and portable hot-spot capability for up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices. Just remember that AT&T requires you to be on the 2GB data plan to have this feature. The feature itself costs $20 extra for another 2GB of usage, bringing the total allotment to 4GB a month if you want the hot spot. On a separate note, the Phoenix does have unlimited Wi-Fi at all AT&T Wi-Fi hot spots in the country–this includes Starbucks, McDonald’s, and several hotels.
As for apps, Phoenix has all the usual Android apps and widgets. This includes many Google services such as Gmail, Google Latitude, Google Maps, Google Places, Google Talk, Google Search with Voice and YouTube. If you do not want to use Gmail, Phoenix can also send and receive emails from your own POP or IMAP accounts. It is also compatible with Microsoft Exchange. Phoenix also comes with Thinkfree Office, an application that allows you to read and edit MS Office documents.
AT&T has also included a slew of AT&T-branded apps on the Phoenix. They include AT&T FamilyMap, AT&T Code Scanner, AT&T Hot Spots (a hot-spot finder), AT&T MyWireless, AT&T Navigator (a turn-by-turn directions app), AT&T Radio, YPmobile (Yellow Pages app), and Live TV, an AT&T U-verse app that lets you watch live television if you happen to be an AT&T U-verse subscriber. We’re generally not opposed to these apps, but we don’t like it that you can’t uninstall them.
In addition to the full HTML web browser, Phoenix has Facebook and Twitter apps, and you can add both widgets to your home screen, which show you the latest updates from your friends and the people you follow. Other Phoenix applications include a WMV, MP4, and 3GP video player, as well as a music player for MP3, WMA, and unsecured AAC / AAC + formats, both of which are standard Android media players. There is also DivX video playback and you can stream media through a USB stick. It doesn’t come with the Amazon Music Store, but you can get it from the Android Market.
Let’s not forget that Phoenix is also a phone. It has a loudspeaker, vibration mode, voice dialing, visual voicemail, text and multimedia messages, as well as typical PIM tools such as calculator and notes.
The LG Phoenix takes pretty good photos.
The LG Phoenix has the same 3.2 megapixel camera as other Optimus phones, and the quality is similar. The images look pretty good, though we think the colors may be brighter. You can also shoot videos from Phoenix. The phone only has 160 MB of internal memory, but it can support up to 32 GB of microSD cards.
We tested the LG Phoenix in San Francisco with AT&T Wireless. Call quality was good, but not without its flaws. We could hear our callers very clearly, and enjoyed decent volume and voice quality on our end. There was a little bit of hiss, but it was not bothersome.
LG Phoenix call quality sampleListen now:
The subscribers also clearly heard us. However, they said that the quality of our voice is much more murky, with occasional fuzzy fuzz. It was very noticeable that the call came from a mobile phone, and our voice sounded quite digitized and sometimes burst. We could still talk, but they had to ask us to repeat if we spoke a little more softly than usual. The calls from the speakers were decent, although the call said we sounded more muted.
We experienced rather poor 3G coverage in the San Francisco office. Loading the CNET mobile page took around 50 seconds, while the CNN mobile page took around 35 seconds. The full CNET front page took more than 3 minutes to completely load. While we don’t think this is indicative of genuine 3G speeds, the Phoenix consistently showed us the 3G symbol at the top. Either AT&T’s 3G speeds really are that slow here, or the Phoenix is not being truthful when it displays that 3G symbol. We’ll have to do additional testing to find out.
In terms of phone performance, even if Phoenix only has a 600MHz processor, we found the overall navigation experience to be quite lengthy. There were delays or hiccups when scrolling through the menus or swiping the home screen.
LG Phoenix has a nominal talk time of 7.5 hours and a standby time of 20 days. According to the FCC, it has a digital SAR of 1.23 watts per kilogram. Our tests showed a talk time of 7 hours 30 minutes. .
Though it’s not a high-end Android smartphone by any means, the LG Phoenix is still a pretty good option for those who want to dip their toe in the Android pool without spending a lot of money. Our primary gripes had to do with spotty AT&T coverage, but that could differ depending on where you live. As long as you don’t expect anything too advanced with the Phoenix, it offers a really great bang for the buck for entry-level smartphone customers.