Review: LG Fathom
The LG Fathom comes with a basic assortment of messaging apps, and even the apps that are included feel dated and lack features. Most important is email, and the Fathom can handle Exchange, IMAP and POP accounts. There's also a Verizon Wireless email app that will do more of the setup for you if you use a popular email service, but you'll also pay a monthly fee for the privilege. This seems like a cynical way to take advantage of naive buyers, because the Verizon email app offers no advantage over the free Outlook email on the phone.
Email on the Fathom can be an annoying chore. Instead of downloading an entire message all at once, Windows Mobile only plucks a small portion from the server. You have to tell the device to download more, then wait a while as it synchronizes again. Want to see an attachment? Wait even longer. I like the HTML email capabilities, the good email search options and the ease of selecting and managing my email messages. But all that stopped being impressive three years ago. Now I just want my email fast.
The Fathom has IM support for AOL, MSN and Yahoo. The app couldn't connect to my Yahoo account, but MSN worked fine. The Verizon Mobile IM app on this phone is the same old instant messaging app I've been staring at for years on Verizon's phones, and it's in serious need of a visual overhaul.
Text messaging is also available on the LG Fathom, but this app could also use some work. Messages come through one at a time, not in the threaded, conversational format I prefer. The messaging app won't search your contact list as you type a recipient name; you have to dig through the address book to add someone to your message. I tried sending MMS messages to the phone, and though I did get a message saying the Fathom was trying to download the image I sent, it never successfully completed the download, so I never saw the MMS message.
The keyboard on the LG Fathom is great. It's one of the better keyboards you'll find on a side-sliding QWERTY phone. It's almost as good as the keyboard on the HTC Touch Pro2, one of my all time favorites, though the keys are a bit smaller on the Fathom. Too bad this wonderful QWERTY isn't connected to a much better phone. Hopefully LG will keep the design intact when Windows Phone 7 is released. Even the onscreen keyboard on the Fathom is pretty good. The on-screen keys pop up in portrait mode when the keyboard is closed. They're a nice improvement over the standard Windows Mobile design. Though the screen still had some responsiveness issues, the keyboard gave me the least trouble of any feature when it came to touchscreen problems.
The LG Fathom completely ignores social networking. There is an official Facebook app available for download from the WinMo Marketplace, but nothing comes preloaded. Unlike the HTC Touch Pro2, a very similar Windows Mobile phone on Verizon Wireless, the LG Fathom doesn't integrate your social scene into the phone. No contact sync, no calendars or photos albums mixed in with your own material. The Facebook app is actually pretty good. Besides keeping up with your status feed, you can upload pics and even grab phone numbers from your friends that list them. I always prefer tighter integration with the address book at least, but I didn't need to use the mobile Web site once I downloaded this app.