LG has always had a strong feature phone presence here in the U.S., especially for the low- to middle-tier market. The most recent model is the LG Encore for AT&T, which is a touch-screen phone with quad-band GSM, 3G, a 3-megapixel camera, and a media player. It's not a terribly innovative handset and the touch interface leaves much to be desired. We were mostly pleased with the multimedia offerings for a basic handset like this, but that wasn't enough to earn the phone our good opinion. The LG Encore is available for $49.99 after a two-year service agreement and a $50 rebate.
The LG Encore's design is rather humdrum. Measuring 4.17 inches long by 2.10 inches wide by 0.47 inch thick, the Encore appears to be a run-of-the-mill touch-screen phone with an ultraslim profile and rounded corners. It does have a minimalist appeal, however, with a mirror-finish trim that surrounds the display and a back plate that is designed to look like brushed metal. The Encore has an overall plastic build with a cheap feel in the hand at 3.7 ounces.
On the front is the 3-inch 260,000 color display that is the only way to interact with the phone. It supports 400x240-pixel resolution and looks colorful and bright for the most part. Colors look vibrant and rich, though the text isn't as crisp as we would like. You can adjust the font color and size, brightness, backlight timer, menu style, and themes.
You get up to three home screens, all of which are customizable. One screen is for widgets, which you can customize with a pop-up widget tray in the bottom row. You only get up to seven widgets to choose from, though. Another screen is for your favorite shortcuts, and the third screen is for your favorite contacts. You can only have nine of each on the home screen.
At the top of each home screen is a pull-down menu that provides quick access to the music player, the Bluetooth toggle, the sound profile, all the messaging options, the calendar, and the alarm clock. In the bottom row are four shortcut keys to the phone dialer, the address book, the messaging inbox, and the main menu.
The display is a resistive plastic screen, which makes for an annoying user experience. It took quite a bit of pressure for the screen to recognize our taps, and even then we needed to be a little more deliberate when swiping a finger so that we didn't accidentally launch something. We eventually got used to it, but we don't think it's a pleasant experience.
The phone dialer is pretty self-explanatory. It has a nice roomy keypad and quick access to the speakerphone, and you can create a new text message from there as well. You can enter text via the alphanumeric keypad--for ABC or T9 input methods--or you can turn it sideways for the accelerometer to kick in and the virtual QWERTY keyboard will show up. Though the keyboard is roomy enough, the finicky touch display did mean that we had to slow down quite a bit when typing. Otherwise, there would be too many errors.
Underneath the display are three touch-sensitive keys for Talk, Clear/Back, and End functions. They are flat to the surface, and you need to wake the phone in order to use them. We would prefer them to be physical keys, but they do provide vibration feedback when pressed.
On the top of the phone are the 3.5-millimeter headset jack and the Power/Screen lock key. On the left spine are the volume rocker and Micro-USB charging port, while the camera key and task manager key are on the right. The camera lens is on the back and the microSD card slot is located behind the battery cover.
The LG Encore has a 1,000-entry phone book with room in each entry for six numbers, three e-mail addresses, four instant-messaging handles, a company name, a Web address, three street addresses, a birth date, an anniversary date, and a memo. You can organize your contacts into groups, add a photo for caller ID, and customize the entry with one of 24 different ringtones and alert tones.
Basic features include vibrate mode, a speakerphone, a calendar, a notepad, a world clock, an alarm clock, a tasks list, a stopwatch, a calculator, a tip calculator, a unit converter, and a voice recorder. The Encore also has voice command, a file manager, GPS with AT&T Navigator, text and multimedia messaging, instant messaging (AIM, Windows Live, Yahoo), and Bluetooth with A2DP support. You also have the option of AT&T's mobile e-mail service that lets you get e-mail from Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and others directly. If you want to send status updates to your various social networks, AT&T also provides the AT&T Social Net app that lets you do just that. It's compatible with Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.