The 65,000-color external display is a definite improvement upon the VX6100's grayscale screen, and despite the postage-stamp size, it manages to pack in a lot of information, including the signal strength, the time, battery life, and an entire bar of indicator icons. Yet, not all was good. Unfortunately, the VX5200 doesn't allow the user to adjust the backlighting time on the external display, nor does the external display show picture caller ID. The camera lens and the flash remain in a convenient place, sitting just above the display. The location made it easy to get our fingers out of the way when taking shots, and we easily took self-portraits using the display as a viewfinder. We are disappointed, though, that the VX5200 has no sliding lens cover, as does the VX6100.
The button on the right side of the LG VX5200 activates the camera and clicks pictures without having to open the front flap. The left side of the handset has a volume rocker, which we're happy to note remained disabled when the phone wasn't in use, preventing us from accidentally turning down the ringer volume on the phone if pressed against the side of our purse or pocket. A key just below the volume control opens the voice-command menu, while a headset jack--sans a rubber cover--sits just above the rocker. The single feature on the rear face of the VX5200 is the speakerphone.
A design flaw on the interior of the LG VX5200 concerns the internal display. Yes, we were able to read the well-designed menus in bright and dark conditions, but the overall quality wasn't too sharp, which made playing games and viewing photos somewhat tedious. The 65,000-color screen, at 1.7 inches diagonally, also could have been larger, given the current height and width of the handset. You get a choice of two font sizes and four display themes, none of which are remarkable. You can change the contrast and the backlighting as well.
The navigation controls at the top of the LG VX5200's keypad include a five-way toggle that gives shortcuts to the calendar, the Web browser, the picture menu, and Verizon's Get It Now service. Alternatively, the calendar key is programmable to one of the following features: alarm clock, notepad, or EZ tip calculator. Just be warned that since the Web browser and Get It Now shortcuts can't be changed, accidentally hitting the wrong button may wind up costing you money. You also get two soft keys, a dedicated camera control, the Talk and End keys, and a Clear button that also activates the speakerphone--nice. The well-spaced keypad buttons are slightly raised above the surface of the phone, and the numbers and letters are large and brightly backlit.The LG VX5200 has a 500-contact address book. Each entry holds five phone numbers and two e-mail addresses. You can also categorize contacts into caller groups or pair them with a ring tone or picture for caller ID. But don't get too excited, as neither function is very well executed. The picture doesn't show up on the external display, and the measly five monophonic and five polyphonic ring tones available on the VX5200 were embarrassing in public places. That said, our friends and coworkers insisted that "Jungle Boogie" was not much of an improvement. Other features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, 1-minute voice memos, support for instant messaging, a calendar, a world clock, an address book, a tip calculator, and a full-duplex speakerphone. We also downloaded software so that we could access our Hotmail account. Overall, the handset's 16MB of memory is impressive, holding up to 100 voice-recorded memos, 200 pictures, and 98 unique speed-dial settings.
As mentioned earlier, the strongest feature of the LG VX5200 is the voice-recognition command menu, allowing users to access many of the handsets' key features with just their voice. After training the speaker-independent voice-recognition software, we successfully used voice commands to make simple phone calls, access our voicemail, call up our contact book, and edit our contacts, as well as check for missed calls or received messages, the time and the date, and the status of our phone. Using the speakerphone for voice commands worked fairly well; it understood our voice commands about 75 percent of the time. We would have liked to use the voice-command menu to add appointments to the calendar, but this wasn't a supported feature.