"Sadly disappointing...oh, what could have been..."2.5 starson by Animal Crow
Pros: EXTREMELY well-built, the best vibrate feature out there, (limited) bluetooth and miniSD compatibility, nice screens, nice stereo speakers, menus well-designed, read txt messages without opening phone
Cons: Camera is terrible, speakerphone is mediocre at best, earpiece volume issues, numerous software bugs, some of which can cause rebooting and freezing...and more!
Summary: First of all - if this phone truly met its potential, it would be the undisputed king. Nothing would even come close. Sadly, that's not the case.
Second of all - if you have this phone and have problems like what I've described - CALL OR WRITE TO BOTH VERIZON AND LG. You can do so on the Verizon site by clicking support and then "contact us." You can call LG at 1-800-793-8896 , or write to email@example.com. Don't be rude or obnoxious, just tell them what problems you are having. The more people that do this, the quicker they will have a fire lit under them to correct some of these problems. Spread the word. Now, onto the phone:
There are just too many problems dragging this phone down. While some of these may (and hopefully will) be fixed in software updates, there is no telling when or even if they will be available.
I was looking forward to this phone for a long time. On paper it looked fantastic..from its 512 mb memory to its MP3 player to its 1.3 mpx camera...then reality struck when I purchased it. The MP3 player is not enabled yet since Verizon hasn't launched their version of ITunes (Verizon doesn't want you using your phone for what it was meant to do unless you pay them more first, you know). And the 512 meg of memory? I don't know where that came from, but anything you heard about that during the promotion is wrong. What memory IS there is segmented all over the place - you only get 2 meg for ringtones! TWO MEG?! Welcome to several years ago! For a company that enjoys gouging you on Get It Now, Verizon really dropped the ball here. You buy 10 or so MP3-based ringtones, and you're full. Ugh.
The camera is my biggest gripe here. Besides the odd fact that you can zoom in on every resolution EXCEPT the highest (I know it doesn't literally "zoom in" per se, but how about a little consistency here?). Anyway, taking photos at its highest resolution...well...it sucks. Anything in even moderate low light will come out over-bright (no matter how much you adjust white balance and brightness) and grainy. Turning it down to 640x480 or below does help somewhat, but what's the point of having a 1.3 mpx camera if you can't use the highest setting properly? Of all the problems, this one bothered me the most - fortunately it also seems like one of the most likely candidates to be fixed by a software fix, since the picture looks fine in the viewfinder before it is taken...but don't hold your breath. Verizon and LG have still yet to acknowledge any problem with it, and it's been out for over a week now.
The speakerphone is shoddy. While results have varied from "not bad" to "awful," the latters outweigh the formers. Often echo-ey and crackling, with background noise somehow becoming a problem even when there isn't any. And don't bother trying to have a 2-way speakerphone conversation. An exercise in futility.
I've experienced random rebooting multiple times as well as complete freeze-ups on two occasions, where the only way to restart the phone was pull the battery and then put it back in.
The earpiece volume can be very flakey, going from too quiet to too loud (mostly too quiet though). This is not as bad for me as it is for others I have seen, but it is still an issue.
There are some bright spots, but even those seem to be overshadowed by more glaring issues...to wit...
Bluetooth compatibility. Yep, it fully supports bluetooth! Just don't be expecting to transfer files to people and do half the stuff you normally would. It's mostly just for syncing up with your PC and using wireless headsets - and people are complaining about the quality of that as well.
MiniSD card support! Awesome! Stick in a 256, 512, or 1 GB card and watch movies or listen to music on your phone!...that is, if you figure out how to get in and use the media player that Verizon turned off and didn't want you to find. Oh, by the way - you can't transfer ringtones from the miniSD to your phone, either. That might take another dollar or two from Verizon, so it has to go as well!
There are ways to do things besides what Verizon wants you to do with the MiniSD and Bluetooth capabilities, but even those are somewhat limited. Check out howardforums.com in the Verizon/LG section for info on what people have discovered about the phone.
Honestly though, this is one of the most well-built phones I've ever seen. Solid, but not heavy, with a sturdy hinge. Feels very nice. Keypad is well laid-out and the user menus are very intuitive.
The (stereo!) speakers are fantastic...very loud if you need them to be while still maintaining nice quality.
There are more pros and cons obviously, but I think I've touched on enough of the major factors to give you an idea of how I feel.
Despite all the letdown, I will hold onto this phone (although I will be exchanging it for a new one to hopefully solve my freeze/reboot problems). I am going to give Verizon and LG a chance to make this right. And if they don't? Well, shame on me. Lesson learned, I guess. But if these problems go ignored, I will never buy an LG product again, and I will be through with Verizon's service.
The right software updates could bring this phone up to a solid 7...maybe even an 8 if they pull off a few minor miracles like getting the speakerphone fixed (not likely).
It had the potential to be the best ever, but thus far, has turned out to be one of the biggest disappointments ever. If software/firmware updates are released that make this phone better, I will update this review.Updated
There has been some talk on the howardforums.com boards that "LG will be enabling the mp3 player in the next software update within 4-6 weeks (approx)."
If this is true (and it's not confirmed yet, but the person is usually reliable), then it's a step in the right direction, but it needs to be more than just unlocking the MP3 player...we need fixes as well. 8100 owners, cross your fingers, but most of all keep telling people to call and write to Verizon and LG if they have not yet, and they are experiencing the same problems talked about above.Updated
I did get the software update a few weeks ago, and I also got my replacement phone. Between the two, I'd bump it up to a 6 - that is, a few nice minor improvements, but still disappointing. The camera problem I described is somewhat resolved - highest resolution photos are no longer completely washed out, although the quality still isn't as high as the LG VX8000. The MP3 player is certainly the biggest addition with this software update, and it's pretty nice actually. You're able to play songs with the phone both open and closed, and although it's a fairly simple player (play/fast-forward/rewind/skip ahead and back/pause, with about half a dozen equalizer presets), it's very easy to use and a very notable addition. For the two + months I've had the phone, I think I've had maybe one dropped call (and I don't even know if it was my fault). While the earpiece volume problem can still be a pain, I've found using a headset more convienent anyway so I rarely use the phone normally.
Still can't give this phone a really strong recommendation, but it gets the job done if you want a new, well-built phone that can do everything. Just don't expect "everything" to be executed perfectly.