The iPhone is the phone everyone wants these days. 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, loads of apps to choose from and install, and lots of street-cred. But for some, perhaps this or any smartphone with a monthly data plan is just too much for our budget, or for our needs. A cheaper prepaid or ‘pay as you go’ phone might be sufficient for you as it is for me.
A month ago, I decided it was time to move on from my ancient Samsung clam phone and try and move with the times. I did have a shopping list of things I was looking for in a new phone. First, with advancing age and deteriorating eyesight, a good-sized screen was a must. Second, I never was a great fan of texting on a standard phone keypad so I really wanted the option of a QUERTY keyboard. Finally, I wouldn’t consider myself a power user, at least not yet, so a ‘pay as you go’ or prepaid phone rather than a contract would be ideal.
It didn’t take long to decide on the LG KP500 Cookie, a full touchscreen phone for those on a budget. I can read the 1.75 x 2.75-inch screen (240 x 400 pixels) without putting on reading glasses, the touchscreen has the option to bring up a QUERTY keyboard and it’s available on a Pay and Go contract in the UK. I went for the O2 Pay and Go plan. I’ve also bought an 8GB SanDisk microSD card to store pictures, videos, and MP3s and have added a black silicone cover and protective screen.
After a month or so with it, I have to say I’m really pleased with the phone. There are lots of features I like – quick access to speed dial numbers by swiping your finger across the display to turn the page; yellow note reminders which you can leave on the nice bright screen, along with a good sized clock and calendar. It has a 3.2 megapixel camera and can record video in QVGA at 12fps. It has a media player that plays most popular digital music formats – WMA, MP3 and AAC audio and 3GP and MP4 formats for video. It also has a stereo FM radio. The built-in accelerometer brings the QUERTY keyboard into view in landscape mode. You can also play slideshows from your photo gallery on the screen. When viewing your photos individually, you can swipe your finger across the image to bring up the next or previous image. The phone comes with a range of Office document viewers – you can open and read XLS, DOC and PDF files in this mobile. The menus are quite intuitive and I pretty much know my way around already. Utilities also include a calculator, unit converter and, of course, reminders and alarms.
I’ve loaded up a number of tech podcasts onto the microSD card and I can listen to them through the speaker or the headphones. I’ve already blogged about trying to get at least half an hour of brisk walking each day and I can listen to podcasts through the headphones while I walk and am alerted of any text or calls that come through. Connectivity includes Bluetooth and USB to upload and download files to my PC.
On the downside, I would have preferred a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack rather than the proprietary LG jack and the camera isn’t brilliant at 3.2 megapixels and has no flash.
One other thing to watch when using the QUERTY pad in reply to a message is that if you stray slightly away from the letters X and Z you may hit ‘Send’ by mistake and you’ll instantly send an unfinished message – as I’ve done a couple of times. The LG PC Suite for uploading and downloading files between phone and PC is a little cluncky and it takes a little longer to upload podcasts for listening than I expected. And of course there is no 3G or wireless, just the EDGE, GPRS and GSM networks, so web browsing is not a realistic option. Basically, if you need internet on the move, this phone isn’t for you.
Still all in all, a great little phone for keeping in touch – a nice bright touchscreen that’s easy to read, yet the phone is just the right size and at a good price. It’s about 20% smaller than the iPhone 3G and weighs just 89g. And on a Pay and Go plan. Well worth considering if a smartphone with web browsing isn’t what you need.