The Good AT&T’s LG Xpression 2 has excellent call quality, a comfortable and responsive QWERTY keyboard, and a $1 on-contract pricetag.
The Bad Xpression 2 takes bad, blurry photos, its low resolution screen may not respond to touch, and its internal speed is slow.
The Bottom Line Price-conscious users will dig the LG Expression 2’s competitively low price, but AT&T has other feature phone alternatives that are worth the extra dough.
Here’s what you can get these days for just a dollar: A bad cup of coffee, two stamps, a bag of chips, or the LG Xpression 2 when you sign a new two-year contract with AT&T (without it, you’ll spend $169.99).
Aimed at listeners looking for something simple, the compact functional device features a physical keyboard and basic text and email needs. Best of all is the excellent call quality, a feature that, unfortunately, is a rare commodity with phones these days.
But the Xpression 2’s cheap price also means you’ll make a lot of sacrifices: you’ll be stuck with a poor camera and a grainy display that’s sometimes sluggish to the touch. If you want a smoother experience, AT&T does carry other feature handsets for more money. Those phones will have faster internal speeds, a better camera, and bigger screens. But if you’re on a $1 phone budget and making clear calls is your priority, the Xpression 2 definitely has you covered.
LG’s Xpression 2 gets the blues (pictures)
The compact Xpression 2 has a nice blue paint job and a plastic body that keeps the unit lightweight. Measuring 4.24 inches tall, 2.13 inches wide and 0.63 inches thick, the phone is small enough to conveniently maneuver with one hand or slide into the front pockets of jeans. But because of its thickness and keyboard, it will fit well. Its textured battery door is decorated with sophisticated wave patterns that vaguely remind me of wood paneling.
On the left is a volume rocker and a Micro-USB port for charging. The port can be sealed with a small attached door that is completely level with the rest of the phone surface. Above is a sleep / power button and a 3.5mm headphone jack, and to the right is a handy shortcut key that launches the camera. All of these physical buttons are lifted so little that it makes them easier to feel.
Flipping the Xpression 2, you’ll find a 2MP camera (no flash) and two slots for audio on the right. Using a small indentation on the bottom edge, you can rip the back plate to gain access to a 1000 mAh battery and a full-size SIM card slot. Also on the left is a microSD card slot that can hold up to 32GB of expandable memory.
The WQVGA device’s 3-inch display has a resolution of 240×400 pixels. Although the text and icons are still legible, the images are very layered and grainy and the text has uneven, uneven edges. The screen is also not very sensitive or accurate. It seemed to me that I was pushing a little harder on the display simply by swiping the homepage or clicking on the app. At the bottom of the display are the send key, the clear and reverse / voice key, and the end key. Long press the send key and it will automatically dial your last call. To launch voice commands, long press the center command button.
Due to its small size, the four-line phone keyboard will hit some users with their thumbs in tightness. I didn’t find the keys so limited, but note that I have small hands. The buttons are slightly flattened on the surface of the phone, making them more comfortable and a little easier to type. However, I typed even more bulb keys on the phone’s keyboards, which were more pleasant to report.
The keyboard comes with four directional buttons, a secondary alt-function key, and shortcut buttons to launch the notepad, text, email, task menu, and the AT&T Web page. The keyboard can easily slide in and out underneath the Xpression 2, and I found the snapping mechanism to be solid. Even when I gently shook the two sliding parts, the keyboard felt sturdily attached.
The first time you start your device, you are greeted with three homepages. Contacts allows you to add your favorite or dialed numbers. Widgets allow users to drag certain features of applications directly to your home screen. (These are digital and analog watches, your photo gallery, post messages, alarm clock, calendar, music controls, and message notification toolbar.) Because of the immobility of a small screen, the widget page overflow is easy, so don’t end it. Finally, shortcuts let you add some of your favorite programs to the screen. At the bottom of the desktop, there are four programs that remain permanently on the dashboard. This is your dialer, contact book, text and inbox.
Tapping on the app drawer brings up four tabs that organize and categorize your apps. The first is labeled “phone,” which has your dialer, address book, call log, text, email, and three AT&T apps. These carrier-branded apps include a GPS, myAT&T (which enables users to check their account balance and information), and a drive mode app that silences notifications and sends autoreplies to messages received when you’re in a car.
The “Multimedia” tab contains music and video players, a photo gallery, a camera, a web browser, portals for purchasing more music, games and applications; and voice recorder. Then there is the “things” tab, which houses a notepad, sound recorder, calendar, calculator, alarm clock, file manager, and tools. The tools provide additional features such as voice commands, to-do list, tooltip calculator and unit converter. Finally, there is the Settings tab, where you can adjust the general settings of your phone, sound, connection and call, adjust the look and brightness of the display, and turn on Bluetooth.
Additional features include 256 MB internal memory, 128 MB RAM and Bluetooth 2.1.
Camera and video
The 2 megapixel Xpression 2 camera produces very poor images. Yes, it is true that you should not expect a very low resolution camera, but you are surprised at how capable a camera like the one included with Kyocera Verve can be. But for this phone, however, the camera was really a flop. The objects in the drawings were blurred with fuzzy edges. Even with enough light, I also saw a lot of grain and digital noise. The colors looked dim and the light sources were blocked. To learn more about the quality of your phone’s photos, check out the photos below. And don’t forget to click each image to see them in full resolution.
Video quality was on par with the camera. Although it was impossible to see what was happening in my videos, the recordings looked very blurred and uneven. The frame rate was also low, making the frames seem inept. The camera lagged behind when it needed to be adjusted for lighting and exposure. In addition, when I transferred my videos to my computer, all sounds were lost (despite the ability to play them on my phone), thus rendering my recordings disabled.
Editing options and photos are limited. You can take photos up to four sizes (320×240 to 1600×1,200-pixels), but you can only use 2X digital zoom for two VGA resolutions. There is also a brightness meter, five white balance options, four color effects, a timer, night mode, and continuous shooting.
With video you can choose two durations: 15 seconds for MMS or text video and “normal”, depending on how much memory your Xpression 2 has. You can record in two sizes (176×144 or 320×240), and you have will have the same white balance settings, color effects and brightness as the camera. Users can also pause the video while recording.
The Gallery app has a few more editing options if you want to add some effects to your photos after clicking the descent. Actions such as adding text, a frame, filters, or animated images are included. Rotating and flipping the image as well as adjusting the contrast, saturation, exposure, and hue of the photo are also possible.
I tested the quad band device (850/900/1800/1900) at our San Francisco offices and the call quality was excellent. None of my calls fell, I heard no noise or static, and the sound remained clear and continuous. I was particularly impressed with the volume levels because the maximum volume came out very loud and reliable, but without distorting the sound. It was easy for my partner to understand on the phone and her voice sounded full and close. The acoustic speaker was also clear, but at maximum volume, the voices could sound cunning and harsh. So did my partner on the phone, who told me I heard great. She heard no hum at her end, and said that my voice was clear and loud.
LG Xpression 2 (AT&T) call quality sample:
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The handset doesn’t have Wi-Fi capabilities, but it can run on AT&T’s 3G network. Unfortunately, I was unable to measure data speeds as the review unit I received was unable to connect to the Internet (despite displaying a small 3G symbol on the upper-left corner of the screen). Whenever I opened the browser, a small error message would appear indicating that connection failed, and when I tried to send an email, the phone’s display read: “Service temporarily unavailable. Please try again.”
In terms of processing speed, Xpression 2 is slow. When I was taking photos, after pressing the shutter, I had to hold the device for a few more seconds to prevent motion blur. In addition, it takes a few noticeable seconds to save a photo after each shot. It took an average of 41 seconds for the camera to launch, and the device ran 1.51 seconds.
So far, anecdotal monitoring of the 900mAh battery has been sufficient. Xpression 2 survived the weekend without connecting at any time, and it can easily feed a work day without charge. Despite the talk time of 3.4 hours and expected standby time of 16.25 days, the phone lasted an impressive 6.68 hours in talk mode. According to FCC radiation measurement , the Verve’s power factor is 1.27 W / kg.
Like its predecessor, which was also a bright messaging color with similar characteristics, the main draw of the LG Xpression 2 is undoubtedly its price. For $ 0.99 a contract (or $ 169.99 without a service agreement), users looking for a handset can get a call, text, and a physical keyboard. In addition, the device has excellent call quality and a number of useful software. This is also data enabled, though if you plan to browse the Internet and send a lot of emails, it is better to use a free contract smartphone.
Indeed, for just a buck, Xpression 2 will meet your basic mobile phone needs. And if all you need to do is make a call and nothing more, its solid call quality will definitely win you over.
But the device does have its faults (like its terrible camera and poor screen), and AT&T has other solid alternatives worth looking into. Personally, I’d spend the extra money to splurge on the Pantech Vybe or the Renue , (these devices cost $ 29.99 and $ 39.99, respectively, or $ 199.99 and $ 209.99 out of contract, respectively) since both phones have larger 3.2-inch displays, 3 megapixel camera and physical keyboards. And if I had absolutely chosen one, I would have left the vibe because it is cheaper, takes particularly sharp pictures and has a narrower form factor.