Review: LG enV2
It you place the VX-9800 next to the enV and the enV2, the size difference is astounding. Where the enV was smaller and lighter than the VX-9800 by a bit, the enV2 is much smaller and more pocket-friendly than the enV was. This is a really good thing. It is close to an inch shorter, and it is thinner from front to back. The width is about the same. It is about the same size as your average clamshell phone. Despite the smaller overall footprint, it is still a touch on the heavy side. But when you consider all that is packed in there, this is a forgivable offense.
The enV2 is comfortable to hold in your hand. It's easy to wrap your fingers all the way around it. The back is coated with a soft-touch paint job, while the top half of the phone is rimmed with a smooth, chrome accent. There are no weird ledges or sharp edges on which to catch the meat of your palm.
The front fascia has been completely redesigned when compared to the enV. Rather than have a slightly bulbous shape, the new enV2 is completely flat from side to side. The keys are all much larger and fill nearly the entire face of the env2. Of course, this means the screen, which was small to begin with, is a lot smaller. Using the keys was fantastic. Each had great travel and feedback, and lots of room to find them. The one issue you might run into, is that rather than have completely separate keys, there are 6 rows of keys from top to bottom. Each of these horizontal keys stretches across the entire width of the enV2. These big buttons have three distinct regions where they can be pressed. So, for example, the 4, 5, and 6 keys are all on the same physical button with nothing separating them when you move your thumb from side to side. This makes finding and using the keys without looking somewhat tricky.
The navigation cluster has also been redesigned, but isn't as intuitive or easy to figure out from the onset. There are two separate keys above and below a larger central key (which spans the width of the phone) where the center of the D-pad would normally be. These three keys together form a circular shape. The keys themselves were all comfortable to use, no doubt, but the revised menu system for the front screen was confusing as all heck when paired with this key configuration (more on that in Menus). There are no soft keys on the front of the phone.
There are two keys along the left side of the enV2. The top most is the camera key. With the phone unlocked, it will launch the camera and also serve as the shutter release button. One aspect that is improved over the enV and Voyager, the top half of the phone no longer gets in the way of this button. It used to be slightly obscured. Below that is the bi-directional volume toggle / camera zoom key. It is a decent size and is easily found and used. Feedback was kept to a minimum, but it was enough to let you know the key had been used.
The right side of the phone has just the cover for the microSD slot and 2.5mm headset hack. The microSD slot was easy enough to open, but we're disappointed that the enV2 does not have a standard-sized headset jack. For a phone with such powerful media capabilities, this seems to be a questionable choice for LG.
The microUSB power port is located on the bottom of the phone and presented no trouble.
When opened up, the enV2 begins to look more familiar. The internal screen is slightly larger, but the overall design is nearly identical to the Voyager and original enV. The screen is flanked by stereo speakers, and there is a full QWERTY keyboard for composing messages and inputting other data.
Opening the enV2 is easily done with either hand. The top part of the phone can be pushed open to about 120 degrees for normal use, and a full 180 degrees to help framing pictures. I found when using it all the way open, it was very easy to accidentally cover the lens with the fingers on your right hand.
Holding it in your hand open is fairly comfortable. The textured paint job is extended into the trim around the keyboard, and this helps you maintain your grip on it.
Our gripe list with this layout, however, is the same as with the Voyager and enV. The D-pad is on the extreme right side of the QWERTY keyboard, very close to the edge of the phone. This means your thumb has to bend at a very tight angle (i.e., 90 degrees) to be able to hit the pad directly below it. My thumb suffered from cramps very quickly using the D-pad. One improvement here that we really like is that the D-pad has been covered in the soft-touch paint. This gives it a bit more grip. The send/end keys are above the D-pad and the speakerphone key and clear key are directly beneath it. As with the enV and Voyager, I found myself hitting the speakerphone key rather than the clear key, which is to its left. This layout seems slightly awkward and had me turning the speakerphone on and off constantly.
The QWERTY keyboard itself was the best we've seen from LG on these messaging devices. Because the enV2 is shorter than the enV or Voyager, this means the keyboard is more compact. I appreciated this a lot. The keys are still spread out and big enough so that you don't run the risk of accidentally punching the wrong key, but I found composing messages to be just a hair quicker because my thumbs didn't have to travel quite so far to reach the keys. Each key has a nice little click to let you know that you've pressed it. The placement of the the two space keys also took some getting used to, as they are on the far bottom right and left of the keyboard, rather than in the middle where the space bar normally falls. Gone is the dedicated email key in the upper left hand corner of the keyboard. It has been replaced by a key that brings up a small shortcut menu.
Above the keyboard are the two soft keys. They have been brought in a bit tighter to the keyboard than on the enV or Voyager. This made reaching up to use them less awkward.