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printed December 18, 2014
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Review: LG Xenon

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Is It Your Type? Body The Three S's Touch  

 

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The Xenon feels good in the hand. It has smooth, rounded edges and a small enough footprint that holding it is comfortable. No textures, no soft-touch paint; it slips easily into and out of jeans pockets. It is light and well balanced whether open or closed. The plastics are not of the highest quality, but the fit and finish is solid enough.

When closed, there are only three buttons on the front face of the phone. At the bottom, you can find the send / end keys, as well as a "task menu" key (more on this in the Menus section). The buttons are smooth and nearly flush with the surface of the Xenon, but are easy to find and have good travel and feedback.

Around the edges are several more buttons. On the left side is the volume toggle. It has excellent travel and feedback, and the smooth edges of the toggle make them feel good under your thumb. On the right side you'll find the dedicated camera key and lock/unlock key. The camera key is total mush. It feels like it is a two-stage button (one click to focus and another to snap the shutter), but it's not. You press the button and you'll feel a light click. Because there is no auto-focus, this takes the picture. The issue is, there's a lot of play after the button is depressed, and it can be depressed much further. The lock/unlock key feel much better. It has just the right amount of travel and feedback. The hatches to access the microSD slot and microUSB port are both easily opened with minimal fuss.

Sliding the Xenon open/closed is satisfying. It doesn't have the smoothest spring action ever, but it feels solid and thunks open nicely. There was absolutely no delay in the Xenon's software when switching from portrait to landscape mode and vice versa. It changed instantly.

LG has done some great things with the full QWERTY keyboard. On the far left side are four dedicated buttons to make messaging easier/faster. They are direct links to a new text message, new email, new IM, and the phone's contacts. It also has dedicated MEdiaNet, "@" and ".com" keys. Nicely done, LG, but where's the emoticon key? The keyboard has four rows and feels roomy, but I didn't like typing on it. The keys have barely any shape to them, making hard to find and tell apart. LG gives your thumbs no clues to help navigating around the keyboard. The keys also have minimal travel and feedback, which doesn't help. The result? I made a lot of mistakes while typing.

In all, the hardware is good. I dislike the lack of a 3.5mm headset jack, but that will always be a personal quibble of mine.

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