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Review: LG Vortex

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Menus Calls / Contacts Messaging Social Networking  

The LG Vortex uses almost the exact same interface design as the LG Optimus T on T-Mobile (Sprint's Optimus S is slightly different with Sprint ID). For the most part, you're looking at a standard Android 2.2 design with some welcome improvements. On the homescreen, you get five icons at the bottom that stick around as you swipe side to side. Those are buttons for the phone, contacts, messaging and the browser.

Pulling down the notification shade reveals a row of settings shortcuts up top, always a welcome addition. With a quick tap you can turn off the sound, or toggle Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and background sync features. Again, it would be nice if you could customize these, to swap out the background sync for a brightness control toggle, for instance.

The LG Vortex keeps the great Optimus application menu design. You can create subcategories for the app menu, and rearrange the menu to your liking. So, instead of an alphabetized list of all your apps, you could group apps by "social networking" or "multimedia." Whatever you like. You can also uninstall apps directly from the application drawer, which is a very nice and intuitive shortcut that saves some time digging through the settings menus.

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There is one significant difference on the LG Vortex. The phone uses Bing for search and maps, and VZ Navigator for turn-by-turn navigation. This seems to be Verizon Wireless' way of punishing phones that are not exclusives to their network, and the experience isn't quite as good as the standard Google Maps and Google Search kit. It isn't bad. Search results were still useful, and the features are nicely integrated into the system, so you can tap on a contact to start navigating, just as you can with Google Maps. But Google search results are still better, with a more refined interface, and voice search features seemed to work better with a regular old Google phone. Both Google Search and Google Maps are available for free from the App Market if you like, but when you hit that Search button, you'll always get Bing.


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