Review: LG enV
The enV has two screens. A tiny exterior display on the outside for basic feature navigation, and a larger interior screen for watching videos, composing emails, browsing the web and taking pictures.
The screen on the front, which appears to be the same one from the original V, is small compared to other candybar phones. We're talking just barely bigger than a Quarter. This screen hosts most of the menu options when the enV is closed, and the diminished size makes for cramped navigation. The icons on the standard Verizon Wireless user interface were so small as to be almost pointless. I casually wondered if the enV came with a detachable magnifying glass that I somehow misplaced. Turns out, it doesn't. Almost all the features of the phone can be accessed with the phone closed, though the "Get-It-Now" menu options are reduced to just two options (music/tones and picture/video). The full "Get-It-Now" menu is available when the enV is opened.
It was barely bright enough to be readable in bright sunlight, but was nice and bright in dark rooms. The resolution on the screen was not great. Images were slightly pixelated and everything appeared cramped on the tiny display. When dialing, the numbers are very small on the screen under the factory settings of "normal" and are almost impossible to see in sunlight. They are much easier to read if the dialing font is set to "large", and they are much more visible when in sunlight.
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The interior screen is excellent and displays bright, crisp images, pictures and icons. Pictures and animations looked good on it, with smooth action and little pixelation. It showed bright colors all around and allowed for plenty of space to display icons, text, menus, pictures, video and more. This screen was much better to use for framing pictures than the screen on the front of the camera. Web pages looked really good, as did some videos that we shot. Composing text messages and emails was more enjoyable using this screen, as the expanded real estate allowed us to see more of the messages we were creating. As with the exterior screen, it wasn't as easy to read in direct sunlight and because of its glossy surface had some pretty harsh reflections, but it was definitely better than the small exterior screen.
The enV has two separate signal indicators for 1x and EV-DO coverage. In my Verizon saturated home in northern NJ, the enV consistently had 4 1x bars and 3 or 4 EV-DO bars, and managed to hold onto 2 bars for both 1x and EV-DO in my basement data session and a voice call while traveling under the Hudson River. The one spot nearby that has minimal Verizon coverage and causes every cell phone we've ever used there to drop a call didn't phase the enV. It held onto the signal and we were able to place calls from this typically dead spot.
The enV is one loud freaking phone. With the ringer volume set to max (a.k.a., earbleed), it was loud enough to hurt our ears when sitting a few feet away. Even the medium settings were reasonably loud. We didn't miss any calls with the phone in our pocket, even while driving with music on. Using customized ringtones or audio clips were just a bit quieter than the included polyphonic ringers. The vibration alert was also strong and fairly loud itself. In fact, the vibrate alert was so strong and loud, we'd recommend setting the phone to totally silent if you're in a designated quiet area, since the vibrate function alone will likely disturb others.
The speaker for calls was also loud enough to be heard in fairly noisy environments. We found that it didn't need to be used at more than medium volume levels for most everyday situations. The speakerphone was also excellent. At times we found that if the speakerphone was set to its highest levels, the sound could be distorted and garbled depending on the strength of your caller's microphone. The medium and medium-low settings seemed to work best.
Loud doesn't equal great sound quality, though. When listening to songs on the music player, watching music videos or other video clips, the sound from the two interior speakers was tinny and thin sounding. Of course, "tinny and thin" is far better than the garbled mess that comes from some phones.
With average call, message and browsing use, the battery life of the enV was very good. We found it needing a charge every 4 days. If you introduce more regular use of Bluetooth, picture taking with the full screen, music and video playing, and heavy texting, battery life went down accordingly, but it never needed charging more frequently than every three days.
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