LG Dare Review

Introduction and Design
This is a CDMA phone offered with Verizon.

LG has been a leader in the touchscreen non-smart phone market since 2007 with their introduction of the PRADA GSM model in Europe. Since then, they have developed and released additional touchscreen phones, such as the Voyager, Glimmer, Vu, and Viewty; each with their own unique features. The newest device to be released is the Dare, which is available through Verizon Wireless.

The Dare isn’t necessarily an upgrade to the Voyager, as both are targeted to different consumers. Unlike the Voyager, which has a large clamshell design with dual displays, mechanical QWERTY keyboard, 2MP Camera, and Mobile TV service, the Dare is much sleeker and sexier, with only one display, more robust user interface, multitasking, and 3.2MP Camera. It also comes on the heals of the release of the Samsung Glyde, which didn’t do so well under our testing last month. Not only is the Dare competing against those devices, but also with the Samsung Instinct for Sprint and Apple’s upcoming iPhone 3G for AT&T. The true winner here is the consumer, as they now have several options to choose from, with each new device trying to out-do the other.

The Retail Package includes the LG Dare phone, 1100mAh battery with cover, music management CD, and user manual. Instead of a standard wall charger, now included a new modular unit that plugs into the wall, but the cord can be disconnected, which turns it into a USB cable for PC connectivity. This is an interesting concept, but if you lose the USB cable, you can no longer use the wall plug unless you buy a new cable.


You can compare the LG Dare with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The Dare is a slim and attractive candybar style phone, as it does not flip or slide open in any way, and is constructed mostly out of black plastic with chrome accents. The front is a fingerprint magnet, as one would expect, but the back features the same soft-touch coating that is used on the Voyager. Overall, the device it seems durable, with the exception of the rear battery cover, which is feels flimsy once removed. When holding onto the phone, it feels smaller and less cumbersome than the Voyager, and is also less noticeable and brick-like when placed in your pant’s pocket. This is a welcome change.

The front is dominated by the largest touch-sensitive display offered on a non-smartphone by Verizon, measuring 3” diagonal with a resolution of 240x400 pixels and supports up to 262K colors. When pressing on it, it is harder to the touch and better quality plastic than the display used on the Voyager, but still not as firm as the screens used on the Glyde or iPhone. Thanks to an intergraded light sensor, the display will automatically adjust its brightness based on the surrounding light levels. While in a dark room, it will dim down, thus using less battery power, but when outside in the sun, the display will become brighter for better viewing. This works rather well and allows it to be visible under varying lighting conditions. Images and text both look excellent, due to the high pixel count and color depth. There is also a proximity sensory that will turn the display off if the phone is next to your face while you’re on a call.

The only physical buttons located on the front are for Send, Clear/VoiceCommand, and End/Power. They have a classy look to them, with shiny chrome and white backlighting. Along the left side are the lock and speakerphone buttons, microSDHC memory card slot and microUSB data port, and on the right side are the volume rocker and camera button. There is a 3.5mm headset jack on the top, and the 3.2MP camera and flash are on the back.

LG Dare Video Review:

LG Dare 360 Degrees View:


The Dare’s User Interface is optimized for use with the touch-screen and works in similar fashion to the Voyager, but has undergone a significant face-lift. Menus and text are shown larger than average, so that you can easily press on your desired selection. After a few seconds of inactivity, the screen will automatically lock to prevent any buttons from being accidentally pressed. You can unlock it by pressing the “lock” icon on the bottom of the display, or the lock button on the left side of the phone. When you touch the screen, the phone will give a haptic vibration feedback and will play an audible tone.

Once the screen is unlocked, there are 5 icons located across the bottom: message inbox, dial pad, main menu, contacts list, and favorites. Located on the right side of the screen is a small arrow that brings up the Shortcuts menu. It shows 11 preselected icons, but the user can replace each one with over 50 choices. The icons can also be moved around the shortcuts menu and dragged directly to the home screen for one-click access. If you no longer want an icon on the home screen, you can then drag it back to the shortcuts arrow.

The main Menu will bring up a screen with icons for contacts, settings & tools, my music, VCast videos, messaging, VZ Navigator, browser, media center, and recent calls. When using the default White Theme, you can move the main menu icons around and place them wherever you want, with a reset button showing on the bottom. However, if you change to the Black Theme, the icons are shown in a 3x3 grid and cannot be moved around. Unfortunately, no other themes are included. The only other customizations that can be made are the fonts, wallpaper, clock format, and charging screen. When you press on one of the main menu icons, it will then open it up and show the available selections. You can then slide you finger from one side of the screen to the other to go to the next menu. If the list is too long for all of it to fit, you can press on the bottom of the screen and flick it up to the top, which will scroll through the list fast, or press and move it slowly.


Up to 1000 Contacts can be stored, each with their name, mobile 1, home, work, e-mail 1, group, picture, ringtone, mobile 2, fax, and e-mail 2. After a contact is saved, you can assign them to one of 999 speed dial locations. Retrieving a stored contact is done by pressing the phonebook icon located at the bottom of the home screen. This brings all of them up in a list that you can scroll through, or you can press on the letters across the top of the screen to jump directly to contacts beginning with that letter. You can also press the Go To icon on the bottom, and begin to type in the person’s name, with it automatically showing the matching results in the background. When you receive an incoming call, and that person is stored in your list, the screen will show their name and number, as well their Picture ID (if there is one), and will play their specific ringtone (if set). Unfortunately, the Picture ID size has not changed since the Voyager, and is still only about ½” in size. This is completely unacceptable, as it defeats the purpose of having a 3” display.

There is also the option of placing 9 of your most frequently used contacts into your Favorites menu. This is a new and fun way of accessing them since it shows all of their pictures at once. You can then drag a contact’s picture to the message, phone, or info icons at the bottom of the screen. The only downside to this is if a contact has multiple numbers (mobile, home, fax) it will not allow you to choose which one you want to dial and will automatically dial the 1st stored number for that person.

Pressing the Phone icon on the bottom of the home screen will bring up the numeric dial pad. We found that dialing numbers on the Dare is easier and more precise than we experienced with the Voyager and Glyde. When calling a normal area code number, the screen will show icons for accessing the dial pad, speakerphone, contacts, note, message, and Bluetooth, but when calling your voice mail or toll free number, it will keep the dial pad active on the screen, so that you can enter in numbers for automated systems.


Since the Dare is not a smartphone, the Calendar operates in similar fashion as on the Voyager and Glyde. It begins by showing the current month with the date highlighted. You can then move from one month to the next, by moving your finger across the screen, or by selecting the month and year using the drop-down-list or go-to-date fields. There is also the option to view weekly instead of monthly. Once the desired date is selected, you add a new event with the subject, start time, end time, repeat (once, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly), until, alerts, tone, and vibrate. When the phone reaches that saved event, it will display the information on the screen and playback the designated alert tone.

Separate from the calendar are three independent alarms, with each one allowing you to select the set time, repeat (once, daily, mon-fri, weekends), and ringtone. This is an easy way to setup a daily wake-up alarm or notification, if it takes place within 24 hours.

The speaker-independent Voice Commands can be launched by pressing the clear/mic button located on the bottom of the handset. Once activated, there are 8 choices that you can speak to the phone: call name or number, send message to, go to menu, check item, contacts name, play, my Verizon, and help. The most useful of these is the “call” command, where you can speak the digits to dial or the name of a person in your contacts list. The only training that is required are for the digits, not the names or commands. Most other devices that have Voice Commands will work best only while in a quiet environment, but with the Dare, it was able to accurately execute our request while in a car going highway speeds and in a noisy mall. It can also be used in conjunction with a Bluetooth headset, so you can call numbers while you are away from the phone.

There is a total of 268MB of internal memory on the Dare, out of which 121MB is designated for storing music synced from a PC or downloaded from VCast, with the remaining 147MB for everything else (pictures, videos, ringtones, messages, applications). Since most people have more that 121MB of music files, the Dare also supports up to 8GB microSDHC memory cards, which can also be used for storing pictures and videos. With 16GB microSDHC memory cards due out this year, it is uncertain if this device will be able to support them, but it could be possible with a firmware upgrade if there are no hardware limitations.


The Dare is capable of sending text, picture, and video messages to other mobile phones and E-Mail addresses. Though this is nothing new, the device offers several ways of composing these messages, including multi-tap and T9 predictive text entry. Turning the phone horizontally counter-clockwise will automatically change to an on-screen QWERTY keyboard, which can show letters, number, or symbols in 3 rows, with the 4th row having a large space bar. Using the on-screen QWERTY keypad was remarkably simple and we only encountered a few mistakes while typing, but were more than we experienced when using the mechanical keyboard on the Voyager and enV2. The last option of entering a message is by using the handwriting recognition, which shows a writing pad in the center of the screen. While interesting to use, it was the most problematic and slowest method of entering in words. Out of the available choices, we found that T9 predictive and on-screen QWERTY to be the fastest and most reliable.

There is the option of downloading a program called Mobile Email so that you can connect with your own personal E-Mail accounts while on the go. However, unlike smartphones that automatically check for new messages every few minutes and push them to the phone, this program must be run manually to check for new messages. It comes preloaded with the ability to connect to Yahoo Mail, Windows Live Mail, AOL, AIM, and Verizon.net, but you can also manually configure it to connect to any other E-Mail account through means of POP or IMAP. We were able to access all of our E-Mail accounts without any problem, and could send messages through the account server. When viewing a new message, you can choose not delete it from the server, so that you can download it later when you are connected using a PC. Even though this application is not as feature-rich as Windows Mobile Outlook, it does a fairly good job for showing plain-text E-Mails. However, it cannot open attachments or properly render HTML messages, which is a disappointment. Regardless of the limitations, the application is still worth the $5/month access fee.

For people who like to use Instant Messaging, the Dare also comes preinstalled with Mobile IM, which will connect you to AIM, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo. After signing in, you can send and receive IMs, but it is basically glorified text messaging to people on your buddy list and will count on your calling plan the same as using text messages.

Connectivity and Data:

The Dare is a dual band all-digital device that operates on the 800MHz and 1900MHz CDMA Verizon Wireless network. Non-voice data, such as Web and E-mail, are transmitted using Verizon’s updated 3G EVDO Rev A network, which is said to have download speeds between 600-1400kbps and uploads between 500-800kbps. However, this can vary during the time of day and the amount of network congestion. We tested the Dare at different times downloading a 1MB file from DSLReports.com. On average we got between 400-600kbps, but on occasion would see from 900-1300kbps. While roaming, the phone is backwards compatible to the slower EVDO Rev 0 and 1X networks.

Bluetooth version 2.1 + EDR (enhanced data rate) is supported and allows up to 20 pairings. Supported profiles include: headset, hands-free, dial-up networking, stereo (A2DP/AVRC), phone book access, basic printing, object push, file transfer, basic imaging, and human interface device. We experienced some problems while using the auto-pair feature with our Motorola S9 and HT820 stereo headsets, where they would become disconnected after music would begin playback. As a workaround, we turned off the auto-pair and reconnected to the headset. We were able to get up to 45 feet of music playback on our headsets without any interference, but when used for calls with our Jabra 250v, we only got up to 30 feet since it only supports Bluetooth 1.1.

For accessing the Internet, the Dare uses Verizon’s EVDO Rev A network, since it lacks built in Wi-Fi capabilities. When launching the browser, you are taken to the VZW Today homepage, which has quick-launch icons for news, email, entertainment, sports, weather, connect, Verizon services, more, and favorites. The browser will automatically change viewing modes depending if the phone is in portrait or landscape mode. Along the bottom are icons for moving forward or back, refresh, home, zoom, www, and menu. When selecting the “www” icon, you can type in a specific web address using the on-screen QWERTY keypad, or select a previously viewed site. Since the browser is HTML compatible, most web sites are shown just as they would appear on a PC, except that Flash and ActiveX plug-ins are not supported. Due to the smaller size of the screen, there is a lot of horizontal and vertical scrolling that must be done. You can eliminate some if this by zooming out, or by choosing the Page Overview mode, which shows a red rectangle that you can move around and select the area of the page that you wish to view. Navigating through web pages can be difficult at times, since most links are shown too small to touch, with you having to zoom in to select them, and then zoom back out. Because of this, we found that using a stylus with the browser allows for greater accuracy. We are pleased that the browser is capable of streaming videos from the popular YouTube site without the problems that we experienced with both the Voyager and Glyde.

The time required for the browser to completely load graphically rich sites, such as PhoneArena.com, is 22 seconds, which is noticeably quicker than the 50 seconds required by the Voyager and Glyde. We’re sure that this is due to the device supporting the faster EVDO Rev A. More simplistic sites, such as Google, only took 3 seconds to load. Overall, the browser is the fastest that we’ve seen on a non-smartphone from Verizon.

Computer Sync:

Detaching the USB cable from the wall plug allows you to use it for connecting the Dare to a PC. When going into the settings & tools menu, there is an option for USB Auto Detection (Sync Music, Sync Data, Ask on Plug). When selecting “Ask on Plug”, each time your PC is connected to the device, the phone’s screen will ask if you want to sync music or data. If you select “Sync Music” you can use Windows Media Player, Real Player, or Verizon’s VCast music manager with Rhapsody to transfer music files to and from the phone’s internal memory or microSD card. However, if you select “Sync Data” then go to Tools and USB Mass Storage, the microSD card is shown as a Removable Storage device connected to your PC, where you can copy pictures, videos and music files. This is by far the easiest method of transferring files, as it eliminates the need of having an external card reader.


One of the best features of the Dare is the 3.2MP autofocus camera. It can be launched through the main menu, or by pressing the dedicated button on the right side of the phone. The application only takes 1 second to load, opposed to 3 seconds on the Voyager. The camera button has a two-stop design just like a real digital camera, where you press it down half-way to focus and then all the way down to capture the image. The time required to focus is a reasonable 2 seconds, with a 1 second lag to capture the image and then 2 seconds to save. The total turn around time to take one picture, save it, and take a second picture for saving is 9 seconds, which is only 1 second less than with the Voyager. If you need to take pictures closer together, you can turn off the autofocus feature and it will cut the amount of time down to 5 seconds.

Pictures taken by the Dare are the best that we’ve seen from a Verizon device, which is probably due to the Schneider Kreuznach lens that is used. Images that were took outside during the day have excellent detail and realistic color representation, which completely blows away the pictures we got using Verizon’s only other 3MP cameraphone, the Samsung FlipShot. However, once you move inside, the quality starts to go down hill due to lower light levels, but this is a problem with most cameraphones. The built in flash does help, but range is limited to about 6 feet. You can also select the Night Mode, which slows down the shutter, but in doing so, most pictures will look blurry do to camera shake.

Camera Options:

Resolution: 2048x1536, 1600x1200, 1280x960, 640x240, 320x240
White Balance: Auto, Sunny, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Glow
Shutter Sound: Shutter, No Sound, Say Cheese, Ready 123
Color Effects: Normal, Negative, Aqua, Sepia, B&W
ISO: Auto, 100, 200, 400
Photometry: Average, Spot
Smart Pic: On, Off
Face Detection: On, Off
Save Option: Internal, External
Multi Shot: Off, 3, 6, 9
Shot Type: Normal, Panorama, Split, Frame
Scene Mode: Normal, Sports, Night, Portrait, Landscape, Beach
Auto Focus: On, Off
Self Timer: Off, 3 sec, 5 sec, 10 sec
Flash: Off, On, Auto

Two new camera options are the Smart Pic and Face Detection. While the Face Detection worked as advertised, the Smart Pic seemed to have some issues with making images look overly sharp and pixilated. Because of this, we left it turned off.

When viewing saved images, you can place the phone in landscape mode and move them across the screen to go to the next picture. There are also intergraded photo editing tools, allowing you to zoom, rotate, crop, adjust contract, sharpness, blur, brightness, add borders and draw on the image.

The Dare is also the first Verizon device to be able to record videos at VGA 640x480 resolution, but does so at 15FPS. It can also record at 320x240 120FSP for slow-motion playback at 15FPS. The videos we recorded at VGA are good enough for PC viewing and uploading to YouTube, but moving images are a bit jerky due to the low frame rate. We would like to see the option of 30FPS added, as this would make moving images look more fluid.


Clicking on “My Music” in the main menu will access the new music player. From there you can select to show all songs, playlists, artists, genres, and albums. Unfortunately, it will organize the music alphabetically, instead of by using the ID3 track order, which makes it impossible to play songs in the same order as they are listed on the original CD. Once the song begins playback, the album art will be shown in the center, with the track info listed above it, and icons for rewind/skip-back, play/pause, and fast-forward/skip-ahead at the bottom. You can also rotate the phone 360 degrees, with the album art and player changing orientation. There are 12 different sound effects to choose from, but we found that “flat” sounds the best. Clicking on the Home icon at the top will keep the music playing and return you back to the home screen. This multitasking allows you to send and receive text message, browse the web, and perform other function while the music continues playback. This is very useful, and it has only been offered on the Chocolate, Venus, and Juke models.

The overall music quality is good, despite there only being one speaker, and it being located on the back next to the camera. With the Dare in a normal resting position on a desk, the speaker is muffled by the phone, but turning it over solves this design flaw. You can also use standard wired earbuds since there is a 3.5mm headset jack, or a wireless headset using stereo Bluetooth.

Video playback is limited to Verizon VCast Video Service, which streams prerecord clips over the EVDO network. Quality is limited to 320x240 resolution at 15FPS, with images looking somewhat pixilated.


The Dare uses Qualcomm’s BREW for all its applications. The most useful is VZ Navigator, which is used for GPS guided directions. It comes preloaded with Version 3, but can download the updated Version 4, which allows for new 3D maps, traffic congestion and accident re-routing, as well as the ability to find local gas stations, restaurants, movie theaters, show times, and local events. Even though it can be used with the phone in portrait mode, it looks best while in landscape. We were able to use VZ Navigator around South FL without problem. The updated 3D maps are easy to follow and are more professional looking than the previous version. These added improvements are well worth the $10 per month price.

No games come preloaded on the Dare, but can be purchased and download over the air directly from Verizon.

Another feature is the support of Verizon’s FOTA (firmware over the air). This will allow customers to download the latest firmware for the phone without the need for visiting a store and having a technician install it. This is a valuable time-saver for both consumers and employees and we are pleased to see it starting to be implemented on more devices. We tested the FOTA, but since our Dare has the latest firmware (V03), it did not download or install any updates.


During our testing, we had excellent reception on the Dare, with 3-4 bars of EV and 2-3 bars of 1X showing in most locations. When going into fringe areas, the bars did drop down to 1 or 0, but we were still able to place and receive calls. This is quite good, and makes the Dare about equal in reception to the enV2 and V9m. Call quality through the earpiece speaker was also good and lacked any interference. However, we could hear a small “ticking” sound in the background, almost like a second-hand moving in an analog watch, except that it was ticking every half-second. We tried different volume settings, but did not affect it. People that we called on a landline said our voice sounded “away” from the microphone, almost like we were using a speakerphone. We then called the same people using the V9m, and they all agreed that our voice quality was better.

The included 1100mAh battery is rated by LG to have 4 hours and 40 minutes of talk time or 15 days of standby time on a full charge. During our testing, we were able to achieve a remarkable 6 hours and 11 minutes of continuous talk time by fully charging the battery, dialing a landline, and keeping the Dare connected until the battery was depleted. This is almost 2.5 hours more talk time than we got from the Voyager.


It is not difficult to see that the LG Dare will probably be the most popular device for Verizon this year, as it has almost all of the features you could want packaged into one slim and attractive phone. The large 3” touchscreen sets it apart from the Voyage and Glyde, with a more robust and easier to use interface. Both the light and proximity sensors work together to save battery time, while also making sure the display turns on when it should and is at its optimal brightness. The web browser allows you to view HTML sites just as you would on a PC, and connection speeds are faster thanks to EVDO Rev A. Listening to your MP3s while surfing the web or sending a text message is now capable since the music player has multitasking capabilities. Pictures from the 3.2MP camera are sure to please, as they are the best that we’ve seen from a Verizon phone. The accelerometer automatically rotates most application’s orientation based on the phone being in portrait or landscape mode. Even though the call quality is not the best that we’ve heard, it also was not the worst, however the excellent reception did make up for it. The only feature we found missing was the Mobile TV service, but since that is not available in all markets, most people will not mind it being left out.

In a world where touchscreen phones are now the in-thing to have, the Dare is sure to keep most current Verizon customers from looking elsewhere. Yet it is highly unlikely that it will win-over user of the iPhone.


  • Large 3” touch-sensitive display with interactive user interface
  • Light sensor, proximity sensor, and accelerometer
  • High quality 3.2MP camera with Schneider Kreuznach lens
  • HTML Browser
  • Music multitasking
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • Signal Reception


  • Voice quality not as good as other devices
  • Ticking sound heard in the background while on calls
  • Lacks MobileTV

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