At the top of the device is a rotating camera lens that swivels up to 180 degrees. You can switch easily from taking pictures away from you to shooting self-portraits. Located underneath is a bright and colorful external screen, though it is a little small at 1.2 inches diagonally. The display has support for 65,000 colors, and we like that you can customize its background. As expected, it shows the date, time, battery and signal strength, and caller ID (and photo caller ID if you have it). You can also use it as a self-portrait viewfinder, plus it'll display the currently playing song if you've activated the music player.
Right underneath the display are the music controls, which consist of the rewind, play/pause, and fast-forward buttons. We found the controls to be extremely convenient, since you can access your music without having to open the phone. On the left spine are a headset jack, the volume rocker, and a unique task manager button that allows you to multitask between different applications. When the handset is closed, you can use the button to access the music player and the camera/camcorder. While we love the functionality of the task button, its superskinny shape makes it difficult to press, and the same goes for the volume rocker above it.
Flip open the phone, and you'll see a beautiful internal display. The screen is of average size at 2 inches diagonally and supports 65,000 colors, which isn't as good as the 262,000 colors of the MM-A900 but still appears vivid and bright. You can't change the contrast or brightness, but you can set the backlight time and the font size for dialing. You can also choose to change the menu style to icon or list view.
The navigational controls consist of the usual two soft keys and a five-way toggle in the middle that doubles as shortcuts to text messaging, instant messaging, the address book, and the My Stuff folder. Also in the navigation array are dedicated keys to the music player and the camera. The talk, cancel/back, and end/power buttons are located right above the number keypad. Unlike the keys on the Razr, the buttons here are not flush to the surface. They're tactile and raised slightly, making them easy to press and dial by feel. While the LG CU500 has an attractive design, its real beauty lies in its features. The address book stores up to 500 contacts, and each entry can accommodate up to five numbers, two e-mail addresses, a picture ID, a memo, and one of 10 72-chord polyphonic ring tones and can be assigned to a caller group. Other basic features include a vibrate or silent mode, a speakerphone, support for stereo Bluetooth, text and multimedia messaging, a voice recorder, instant messaging (AOL, MSN, Yahoo, and ICQ), a wireless Web browser, an alarm clock, a calendar, a notepad, a calculator, a world clock, and a to-do list. It also comes with Micro SD card slot, but you'll have to remove the battery in the back to get to it. The CU500 is a quad-band GSM phone, which means you can use it almost anywhere in the world.