Though LG has made Android phones for a while, they were always for the European and Asian markets. The LG Ally, however, marks the first LG Android phone to hit U.S. shores. There's nothing too new with the Ally, but we think LG did a great job here. The display is very nice, we love the slide-out keyboard, and the performance is great. We also really appreciate that it comes with the latest Android OS build, Android 2.1, right out of the gate. The LG Ally has a very impressive price tag of $99.99 as long as you sign up for a new two-year agreement with Verizon Wireless.
At first glance, the LG Ally's design reminds us a lot of LG feature phones like the LG EnV Touch. Like the EnV Touch, the Ally is blocky and rectangular and is wrapped in a black and silver casing. It measures 4.56 inches long by 2.22 inches wide by 0.62 inch thick, and has ergonomic curves and angles along its sides, so it feels comfortable in the hand. At 5.57 ounces, the Ally is no lightweight, but it's still lighter than both the Motorola Devour and the Motorola Droid. The weight also contributes to the Ally's sturdy feel.
We have no complaints about the Ally's stunning 3.2-inch touch-screen display. Made out of tempered glass, the TFT display has 262,000 colors plus an 800x480-pixel resolution, resulting in really crisp and vibrant images. It looks great under bright sunlight as well.
We found the capacitive display to be very responsive. You have the option of adding haptic feedback as well, which makes the phone vibrate as confirmation that your touch has registered. Other options include a backlight timer, brightness, and the wallpaper. You can even have "live" animated wallpaper if you wish. There's also an accelerometer and a proximity sensor.
The interface on the LG Ally is that of the standard Android UI; there's no custom interface here like you would expect from HTC or Samsung. Like with the Nexus One, it's pretty easy and intuitive; you get up to five home screens that you can customize with widgets and shortcuts, and the main menu is laid out in a simple cascading grid. The phone dialer is easy to use, and if you don't want to use the physical keyboard, you are free to use the Android virtual keyboard, too.
Underneath the display are two touch-sensor keys for the Back and the Search functions. Below those are four physical keys--the Call, Home, menu pop-up, and End/Power keys--laid out in a slight curve. The volume rocker and charger jack are on the left spine, and the right is home to the microSD card slot and dedicated camera button. A 3.5mm headset jack sits on the top with the camera lens and LED flash on the back.
When you slide the display to the right, you'll reveal a four-row QWERTY keyboard. The screen automatically adjusts from portrait to landscape mode when that happens. We're really big fans of the keyboard, much more so than the keyboard on the Droid. It's roomy, there's a dedicated number row, and the keys are a good size. They're raised above the surface and are separate and distinct from each other, resulting in a super tactile feel that allowed us to type with speed. Also on the right of keyboard is a square navigation toggle, which is a nice alternative to just using the touch screen.
If you've used other Android 2.1 devices before, you'll be very familiar with what the LG Ally offers. Of course you get seamless integration with Google applications like Gmail, Google Talk, Google Search, Google Maps with Google Maps Navigation, and YouTube.
Other features include text and multimedia messaging, visual voice mail, speech-to-text recognition, voice commands, Wi-Fi, A-GPS, and stereo Bluetooth. You also get the standard Android browser, which we love. You can double tap to zoom in and out, but there's no pinch to zoom like on the iPhone. Of course, as this is an Android phone, we would be remiss if we didn't mention the Android Marketplace, where you can download many more apps and games.
If you're a fan of social networking, the LG Ally also comes with the LG Socialite app. It essentially syncs your Twitter and Facebook contacts with your Google contacts, and provides easy access to both services via a custom user interface that lets you easily check the latest updates and messages from either service.
Business users will be happy with the LG Ally. We were able to set up a variety of e-mail accounts on here, including a Gmail, one of course, and we could sync to our corporate Exchange server, which allows us to sync our Outlook calendar and contacts as well. For document editing and reading, Microsoft QuickOffice comes standard with the Ally.