Review: LG Octane
The Octane has what I'd term an average length and height for a messaging phone, but it suffers from the enV family's old faults: it's thick. Gone are the brick-shaped corners from the enV2 and enV3. LG has rounded off the edges of the Octane, giving it a friendlier feel in the hand and in the pocket. The tapered edges on the back surface let it sit firmly in you hand. It's made from plastics, with a soft touch battery cover. It feels solid, well made, and approachable.
LG has taken the evolutionary approach to this form factor to the next level. The outer display is larger than those of its predecessors, and the keypad is now what I'd call a "normal" size. The keys are nice and large enough, and have perfect travel and feedback. Sandwiched in between the dialpad and display, LG has adjusted the navigation controls. There is a standard D-pad with a large center button. The Send and Contacts keys are to the left of the D-pad, and the Clear and End keys are to the right. All of these keys have excellent travel and feedback to them.
There are two keys along the left side of the Octane. The topmost is the camera key. With the phone unlocked, it will launch the camera and also serve as the shutter release button. Below that is the dual-purpose volume toggle / camera zoom key. It is a decent size and is easily found and used. Feedback was good.
The right side of the phone has covers for the microUSB port, microSD slot and 2.5mm headset hack. The hatches hiding the microUSB and microSD ports were easy enough to open with the help of a fingernail, but I'm disappointed that the Octane does not have a 3.5mm headset jack. This seems to be a questionable choice for LG (which apparently hasn't listened to our complaints over the years).
The Octane opens up sideways to reveal a larger display and a full, four-row QWERTY keyboard for messaging. The screen is flanked by stereo speakers. The top part of the Octane can be pushed open to about 120 degrees for normal use, and a full 180 degrees for better access to the camera controls. 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. This was a problem on the enV3, enV2, enV...you get the idea.
All of the nav controls are on the right side of the keyboard. The send/end keys are above the internal D-pad and the speakerphone and clear keys are directly beneath it. As with earlier enVs, I found myself hitting the speakerphone key rather than the clear key from time to time.
The QWERTY keyboard itself is another winner from LG. The keys are big enough that you don't run the risk of accidentally punching the wrong key. Each key has a nice little click to let you know that you've pressed it. LG has put some dedicated function keys on the keyboard, as well. There's a Social Beat shortcut key and a text message shortcut key. Both are appreciated.
Aside from the 2.5mm headset jack, LG got most of the hardware features of the Octane right. This form factor would appear to be one of LG's fortes.