LG is one of the top makers of touch-screen feature phones, and though many of them go to big national carriers like Verizon Wireless and AT&T Wireless (like the LG enV Touch and the LG Xenon for example), quite a number of them make it to regional carrier U.S. Cellular as well. One such offering is the LG Bliss, which reminds us of the LG Tritan, except it doesn't have a keyboard and it has a lower resolution camera. The Bliss has customizable home screens, EV-DO, and a number of multimedia features, all in a slim shape. The LG Bliss is available for $99 with a new two-year service agreement and a mail-in rebate.
Measuring 4.23 inches long by 2.28 inches wide by 0.47 inch thick, the LG Bliss is one of the thinnest touch-screen phones we've ever used. Its tapered edges make it feel even skinnier than it is, and at 3.42 ounces, it's lightweight as well. The Bliss' all-plastic construction does make it feel rather cheap, though. The phone comes in either white with gold trim or black with a lime green trim.
Dominating the phone's front surface is the large 3-inch touch-screen display. It supports 262,000 colors and 240x400 pixel resolution, which result in vibrant color and sharp images and text. When the phone is idle or locked, a screen overlay displays the date, time, any missed calls or messages, plus a brief rundown of the day's schedule. There's a power save mode that defaults the brightness and backlight settings to be more energy efficient, though you can turn it off if you want to adjust them manually. You can also adjust the font style, the dial font size, and the menu style.
Like the Tritan, the Bliss has four home screens: the Main home screen, the Shortcuts screen (for application shortcuts or browser bookmarks), the Contacts screen, and the Multimedia screen. You can swipe across the screen horizontally to switch between the home screens, or you can simply tap on the home-screen navigation bar at the top of the display. There are four shortcut icons along the bottom of each home screen. They correspond to the messaging menu, the phone dialer, the main menu, and the contacts list.
You can adjust the banner text and the appearance of the clock and calendar on the home screen only. For the Shortcuts, Contacts, and Multimedia screen, there's an Edit button at the lower right corner, which puts the screen in editing mode. In this mode you can add new shortcut icons, rearrange them, or remove them. There's also an Align button on the upper right that snaps the icons to a grid. You can choose a different wallpaper for each home screen.
We have a mixed reaction to the touch-screen interface. We like the haptic feedback, which vibrates the phone to let us know when our touch has registered, plus we had no problems with overall touch accuracy, whether we were using our fingers or the included stylus. However, the response time was a bit slow for our liking. There is often a very slight delay between when we touched the screen and the resulting function. Though we eventually got used to it, not everyone will be pleased with it. You can use the touch calibration wizard to ensure accuracy. You also can adjust the strength and length of the vibrating feedback, plus the type and volume of the vibration's sound effect.
The phone dialer and messaging interface are similar to other LG touch-screen phones. The dialer has a big virtual number keypad so you can easily dial the numbers. As for messaging, you have three input methods. The first is via the number keypad, with either ABC or XT9 input; the second is handwriting recognition; and the third is a full virtual QWERTY keyboard. To reveal the QWERTY keyboard, you have to rotate the phone to landscape mode; the Bliss has an internal accelerometer that will rotate the display as well. We liked the virtual keyboard quite a bit: the keys are large and when you tap one, it magnifies to let you know which letter you selected. There's a dedicated @ symbol as well, for entering e-mail addresses.
That doesn't mean the Bliss has all touch controls. Underneath the display are three physical keys, which are the Talk key, the Clear or Speakerphone key, and the End/Power key. The volume rocker is on the left spine as well as the 2.5-millimeter headset jack. On the right are the charger jack, the screen lock key, and the camera key. The camera lens is on the back. There is no self-portrait mirror, so it's a bit tricky to take a self-photo. There's a microSD card slot, but it's located behind the battery cover.
Above the display next to the speaker is the Bliss's proximity sensor. This shuts off the display when you bring your face next to it (like when you're on a call) in order to save battery life.
The LG Bliss has a 1,000-entry phone book with room in each entry for five phone numbers, two e-mail addresses, a memo, and a Web site URL. You can then organize your contacts into caller groups, add a photo to a contact for caller ID, plus one of 25 ringtones or one of eight message alert tones. Other basic features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, voice command, an alarm clock, a calendar, an organizer, a world clock, a notepad, a calculator, a tip calculator, a unit converter, and a stopwatch. There's also a drawing panel application that lets you sketch down doodles and send them to friends if you wish.