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Review: LG Versa

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Without the keyboard attached, the Versa is comfortably sized. It has the same black and silver styling that has come to dominate the touch screen phone market, though it trades a black back plate for a maroon cover.

It is easy to grip in the hand, light-weight, and with the soft touch paint job on the back, won't go slipping out of your grasp. It is comfortable when held in both portrait orientation and landscape orientation. It is well balanced. Slipping it into your jeans pocket is easy.

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The front of the device is dominated by the three-inch screen. There are just three buttons below the screen. The call/send button, a back/microphone button and the end/power key. These three buttons augment the functions that appear on the screen. They are positioned on a separate piece of plastic below the display, and this piece of plastic has a small ledge that lets you easily find the buttons. The back/microphone key stands out a bit more than the others. All three have good travel and feedback.

The left side of the phone has a lot going on. At the very top is a 2.5mm headset jack, which won't work with most regular stereo headphones. Below that is a camera key, which is a bit on the small side. Below that is the volume toggle. These two buttons have excellent travel and feedback. Then there's a sliding hatch mechanism for detaching the back plate of the phone. Last up is the hatch covering the microUSB port.

The right side of the phone has a hatch covering the microSD slot (note, this hatch is unreachable with the keyboard attached). Along the top is a lock button. It is a little small, but it stands out well enough and has very good travel and feedback.

Things really start to get interesting when you attach the QWERTY keyboard.

First, removing the back plate of the phone is just a pain. You have to slide the switch, then pull firmly to break the back plate off. The keyboard is actually a different back plate for the Versa, and that's how it attaches. Imagine a book cover wrapping around a book, and you'll know what I mean. The big issue with this is that it doesn't just casually snap on or off. If you want to get rid of it, you have to have the other back plate with you. It's not the end of the world, but it could sure be a lot easier.

With the keyboard attached, the Versa is an entirely different phone. Gone is the soft touch paint. It is replaced with a faux leatherette surface that has a lot of texture to it. It is also significantly thicker. Without the keyboard attached, the Versa is 14mm thick. With it attached, it is 22mm thick. That's 57% thicker. It also jumps from 52mm wide to 60mm wide. I don't have a scale to measure the weight, but that, also, is increased significantly by adding the keyboard.

When closed, the Versa offers a small display on the front so you can see status icons, the time and message indicators. Towards the bottom of the front face are the send/end keys. They have good travel and feedback, and will allow you to answer and end calls with the phone closed. Holding the Versa to your head with the keyboard attached feels terrible. It feels truly like you're holding a brick to the side of your face.

With the keyboard open, the Versa really can't be held in the portrait orientation. It's just too fat. You have to switch to landscape orientation. The problem is, the Versa is incredibly top heavy when held by the keyboard. After holding it for an evening and typing lots of messages, my fingers were very tired from balancing the phone in my hands. Try as I did, there's just no way to really hold the Versa comfortably with the keyboard attached.

As for the keyboard itself, the buttons felt good, were well spaced apart, and had good travel and feedback. The only button that was iffy was the space key, though others reported no problem with the space key at all. It is nice that the keyboard has four full rows, with a separate row for numbers.

As you can see, the Versa has two vastly different profiles. I'd strongly recommend anyone interested in the Versa for its keyboard test it out in the store ahead of time.

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