Crying for style: The VX4500 has a slight teardrop shape.
Flip open the phone, though, and the situation improves. You're greeted by the bright, 65,000-color display. Though it is slightly larger than the LG VX4400's screen, the VX4500's could still be bigger (1.75 inches diagonally) for the phone's size. Like many handsets that sport a color screen, this one conserves battery life by turning almost completely dark when not backlit. The buttons below the display include a four-way toggle, an OK button in the center, and two soft keys, which make the VX4500's colorful, animated menus easy to navigate. We especially liked that you can select a main menu item, then navigate sideways to another top-level selection (using the left and right mouse keys) without going back to the main menu screen.
We had no trouble using the handsome blue-lit keypad buttons or the four-way toggle, which has short cuts for wireless Web, messaging, the speakerphone, and Verizon's Get It Now service. While we appreciated the volume-adjustment keys on the left side of the phone, we had a complaint with the quick-access key for voice commands (see the Features section). It quickly grew annoying, as the phone blurted "please say a command" whenever we pressed the key by accident (which was often). For a midrange phone, the LG VX4500 comes with a solid arsenal of features. A 499-entry phone book can store up to five numbers and three e-mail addresses for each contact, while a duplex speakerphone, text and EMS (but not MMS) messaging, a voice memo function, an alarm clock, a tip calculator, a world clock, and a notepad round out the package. The handset comes with 36 polyphonic ring tones and a vibrate mode, with more available from Get It Now. You can also assign ring tones and pictures for your various contacts, though the pictures do not show up on the external display, and you can even choose separate ring tones for any text messages you receive from a given contact.
Big and bulky: The desktop charger will not please road warriors.
The VX4500 shines when it comes to voice commands and recording. In addition to hands-free dialing, you can record up to four minutes of voice memos and add voice messages to events in the 300-entry calendar. One of the phone's quirks, however, is that the calendar is hidden in the Voice menu; we were expecting to find it in the main menu.
The mobile boasts plenty of customization options, including blue, green, violet, or orange color themes and nine wallpapers (several of which are animated), with more available through Get It Now. You can also download games from the service, as the VX4500 doesn't come with any titles. Additionally, the handset's wireless Web browser operates via Verizon's high-speed 1xRTT network. We tested the dual-band (CDMA 1900/800) LG VX4500 in Manhattan and San Francisco using Verizon's network and were pleased with the overall audio quality. Callers sounded loud and clear, and they told us that they couldn't tell we were speaking on a cell phone. The LG's speakerphone also was clear and quite loud, due to the oversized speaker on the handset's reverse.
Battery life was mixed, however. In our tests, we coaxed 3.5 hours of talk time, barely beating the rated talk time of 3 hours, 15 minutes. Our standby time was just two and a half days, well short of the six days promised by LG.