LG DoublePlay Review

11
Introduction and Design
Introduction:

Every now and then, we come upon a device that goes outside the mold to separate itself dramatically from everything else. Well, the LG Doubleplay is one of those smartphones that attempts to provide a practical experience in typing messages with its split-style QWERTY keyboard. Naturally, it comes off as a tangible distraction from the usual litter we're normally accustomed to seeing, but will it actually enhance or improve the experience?

The package contains:

  • LG Doubleplay
  • microUSB cable
  • Wall Charger
  • Start Guide
  • Product Safety and Warranty Information

Design:

Besides its incorporation of a split-style keyboard and a secondary touchscreen, there is absolutely nothing pretty about this chubby one. By today standards, it tips the scale in overall sheer size, weight, and thickness – making it a constant distraction in our pockets. Indeed, it's far from being premium feeling due to its plastic shell, which strangely retains smudges. And much like other recent LG smartphones, the metal strip in the rear serves no other purpose than being there for aesthetics.



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

When so many other mid-range devices feature WVGA resolution, it's really a bummer to find LG Doubleplay packing a 3.5" HVGA (320x480 pixels) display. Of course, its limitation is blatantly exposed with fine text, as we have some difficulty viewing them in the web browser. Thankfully though, we really like the display's deep and luscious color production, which isn't something we normally find with a typical LCD panel. However, it's low brightness output and poor viewing angles make it nearly impossible to see  in outdoor settings.


You'd think that going with a split-style keyboard would improve the typing experience, but in actually using it, we find it considerably more challenging. First of all, the tiny sized plastic buttons aren't that defined, which makes it difficult to feel out - plus, it doesn't help when the response is rather stiff to the touch as well. Moreover, our thumbs are easily cramped due to the tight spacing they're covering.

The Doubleplay packs a secondary 2" touchscreen that separates its keyboard. Even though it has some practical uses with multi-tasking, such as being given access to text messages, music player, group texting, picture gallery, email, calendar, browser, and social+ app, it doesn't necessarily enhance or refine the overall experience. In all honesty, we do like the multitasking aspects it offers, but doesn't dramatically go beyond that.


As usual, we find the typical set of Android capacitive buttons beneath the main display, which are placed far away from the edges to reduce accidental presses. Meanwhile, the only thing above the display is the earpiece – albeit, we’re shocked to find this 4G enabled smartphone lacking a front facing camera.


Around the sides of the phone, we find its  microUSB port, 3.5mm headset jack, volume rocker, and dedicated power button – with the latter two exhibiting springy responses when pressed.


Finally, the rear is home to the handset's 5-megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash and two notches for the handset's speakerphone. Yanking off the plastic rear cover, we're provided access to its 1,500 mAh battery, SIM card slot, and microSD slot that's preloaded with a 2GB card.



LG Doubleplay 360-degrees View:





Interface:  

With a 1 GHz processor running the show behind the scenes, the LG Doubleplay's performance is remarkably smooth and responsive – even better than some dual-core devices that we've checked out recently. In fact, it doesn't even seem to strain that much when a live wallpaper is activated. Additionally, it's able to execute almost all basic functions with relative ease.

Just like all the other devices before, the handset features LG's Optimus skin, which is running on top of Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread. Obviously, there is plenty of personalization found with it, much like most customized Android experiences, thanks to the wealthy set of useful widgets that are available – such as the weather and social networking ones. Clearly, it might not be the most favorable customized UI out there, but it's at least functional in providing a balanced experience.



Functionality:

Strangely, we find using the on-screen keyboard a tiny bit better than using the physical one – since it's more responsive and we find ourselves moving at a faster rate. Furthermore, there are a couple of messaging oriented applications included with the handset. Specifically, these include Cloud Text that enables us to send/receive messages through a computer, and Group Text for sending messages to multiple recipients simultaneously.


Aside from finding the typical Gmail experience, the secondary display allows us to preview emails – though, in order to view its contents entirely, it needs to be displayed on the main screen. With set up, it's naturally a breeze since it requires only our username and password for automatic set up.


Do you happen to love bloatware? Well, the LG Doubleplay has plenty of it since it’s preloaded with apps like 411 & More, Bejewled 2, Blio, CMAS, DriveSmart, dT Sync, Lookout Security, Polaris Office, Richnote, Sim City Deluxe, T-Mobile Mall, T-Mobile Name ID, T-Mobile TV, TeleNav GPS Navigator, Zinio Reader, and Tetris.
 




Camera:

Far from being pretty looking, the 5-megapixel auto-focus camera of LG Doubleplay manages to take some alright looking photos. Specifically, details are average looking with color production on the cooler side. However, colors are a bit more bland in tone when shot indoors under artificial lighting – albeit, the LED flash is strong enough to illuminate the scenery. But when it comes to extreme low lighting conditions, images are filled with a lot of graininess, which tends to soften its overall quality.




Again, it's more the same when it comes to 720p video recording with the handset, as it's able to shoot some acceptable recordings. Well, the only distraction we find is its faint and weak looking fine details. Fortunately, it features continuous auto-focus, a smooth capture rate of 30 frames per second, and retains a neutral color production. However, audio recording is a little bit on the scratchy side – but they're still audible.

LG Doubleplay Sample Video:



Multimedia:

Providing us with the stock Android music player, there's nothing really too extravagant with its presentation, but it's more than functional. Volume output with its speaker is rather moderate at best, but it exhibits some sharpness with its tone that makes it irritating at the loudest setting. Fine-tuning things a bit, we're presented with some equalizer settings that enhances the quality to better adapt to specific genres of music.


Continuing to show off its processing power, it's able to play our test video flawlessly, which is encoded in DivX 1280 x 720 resolution – however, there's no support for 1080p videos. Nevertheless, we're still satisfied by the smooth playback that it exhibits.

Preloaded with a 2GB microSD card, it's obviously rather paltry in size, but you can still swap it out with cards up to 32GB in capacity. Still, were given a little bit over 860 MB of system memory that's allocated specifically for apps.

Internet and Connectivity:

Being packed with mostly mid-range specs, the overall web browsing experience is decent. Sure it might not be the most responsive with its navigational controls, which is evident by the choppiness its exhibits when Flash content is present, but it's tolerable enough for us to except wholeheartedly.


Naturally, you can place voice phone calls anywhere around the world with this GSM smartphone, but it's only able to get 3G speeds domestically while surfing on T-Mobile's AWS band. Like other handsets out there, it features other connectivity items such as aGPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and mobile hotspot functionality.

Performance:

Sadly, calling quality isn't one of the highlights of the handset because its overall quality is undoubtedly sub-par. It's made blatantly obvious by the noise that's heard through the earpiece, and the muffled voices we hear through it. Luckily, our callers on the other end of the line don't have any problems, as they're presented with clear voices. Meanwhile, we're still hearing the same awful and muffled tones when using the speakerphone.

Maintaining a high amount of bars in high coverage areas, signal strength appears to be solid – however, we did experience a single dropped call.

Limiting our interaction with the secondary touchscreen, while using the main one primarily, we're able to get close to one day of normal usage out of the handset. Of course, it's seemingly more than sufficient for our needs, but it's still something we'd recommend charging on a nightly basis.

Conclusion:

Kudos to LG for thinking outside the box when it comes to the design of the LG Doubleplay, but in all seriousness, it's simply not practical when it comes down to typing messages. Rather, we find the whole thing challenging as we resort to using the on-screen keyboard instead. In addition, we do like the multi-tasking aspects found with the secondary touchscreen, but it doesn't particularly deepen the experience – nor does it bring any innovative qualities. Flaunting a $99.99 on-contract price, it doesn't seem fitting for the LG Doubleplay, and instead, we'd recommend saving the money and spending it on something better – say like the T-Mobile Sidekick 4G.

Android Version: 2.3.4
Kernel Version: 2.6.35.7
Build Number: GRJ22
Software Version: LGC729-V10H-SEP-30-2011

LG Doubleplay Video Review:





Pros

  • Responsive performance

Cons

  • Uninspiring & chunky design
  • Awful calling quality
  • Difficult to use the keyboard
  • Limited functions with the secondary display

PhoneArena Rating:

5.0

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless