Android’s reputation as an open, user-friendly OS has seen the little robot adopted by virtually every mobile manufacturer we can name. Except one – LG has been busy with its ‘Pop’ and ‘Chocolate’ phones, but has finally got round to launching its first Android phone, the (deep breath) InTouch Max GW620.
The disadvantage of Android’s promiscuity is that it’s not always obvious which version of Google’s OS you’ll get. There’s plain vanilla Android, or stylishly reskinned versions like those seen on the HTC Hero and Motorola DEXT. The GW620 has the basic 1.5 version, but with a little LG icing to spruce it up.
The hardware is accomplished, although the major cost cut has come in the kind of touchscreen it sports – it’s resistive, which is pressure-sensitive. This can’t match the way the pricier capacitive kind of touchscreen looks (found on the iPhone or HTC Hero) but at least resistive screens can be used when you’re wearing gloves.
The InTouch Max has a slide-out keypad, which chunks up the phone’s profile. This is a much better keyboard than the flush, flat letters of the Motorola Droid – here, the keys are domed.
Even so, it’s not especially comfy to use and the onscreen keyboard of the HTC Hero, for instance, is better. The screen here is smaller than the iPhone’s but not much, though the phone overall is noticeably easier to fit in your pocket.
The 5MP camera has a flash but also suffered from some pretty strong shutter lag in our tests. Overall the results were sharp and reasonably successful, but not outstanding.
Review continues after the break…
It’s in the operating system that the phone gets interesting. Although the version of Android is the comparatively ancient version 1.5 (the Droid is on 2.0, the HTC Hero on 1.6 or higher), LG has added its own enhancements, but only if you want them.
With great discretion, LG has put a twin-boot option into the app list so you can either use regular Android or an LG special which adds extra icons to the main screen based on LG’s own S-Class interface. One is a shortcut to social networking sites, though it’s not particularly easy to use.
There’s also a neat extra in the Android notifications ‘window shade’ – shortcut buttons to turn Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on and off, though you still need to set up your connection separately the first time.
There are also buttons for favourite contacts and the face recognition feature in the camera means you can even call friends by tapping on their photo.
There’s an effective trackpad/menu button at the base of the screen, which works well with the Home and Back buttons. Altogether, it adds up to a fun and enjoyable Android handset at an affordable price.