LG GW520 Review

Introduction and Design
This is a global GSM phone. It can be used with AT&T and T-Mobile USA, but without 3G.


The number of people using a mobile phone to access Facebook is growing with each passing day. It seems LG has finally got that right, because the company has introduced not just one, but two cell phones, both advertised for their Facebook and push email capabilities – the LG GT505 and LG GW520. Today we are going to talk about the latter. Just like the GT505, it sports a touch sensitive screen, but in addition comes equipped with a full QWERTY keyboard…


The LG GW520 is certainly not a device that will make you the centre of attention. Still, with its jazzy orange keyboard and sides it does comes with an offbeat, youthful design. All other elements of its body (save the buttons below the screen) sport a soft touch finish that makes the handset more appealing to touch.

You can compare the LG GW520 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The 2.8-inch WQVGA display takes up the best part of the front side of the GW520. The screen has good sensitivity and delivers bright, vivid colors. It´s just too bad they get washed in direct sunlight, so reading becomes quite an uphill battle, no to mention its love for fingerprints doesn’t help either. The send and end keys and a button that takes you to your favorite applications and the phone task manager are below the display. We didn’t encounter any issues with any of the phone buttons, but we would have been much happier if those on either side of the handset were more protruding.

The full QWERTY keyboard is a key aspect of the LG GW520. You have four rows of jazzy orange buttons that feel really comfy to press. We got used to using them without making mistakes right away and their bright, white backlighting makes them easy to find even in utter darkness.

As a whole, we are pleasantly surprised at the good build quality of the handset. It feels solid and sturdy and its slider is not plagued by any wobbling or looseness issues.

LG GW520 360 Degrees view:


The cell phone will probably leave you cold in terms of software, especially if you expect to see S-Class 3D or any novelty features, because its interface is almost identical to the version running on the LG Cookie (you can find our full review here). There are few changes like functions that have been moved to other submenus and a different home screen that consists of two separate pages – the first features well known widgets that you can rearrange to your liking.

The second, that hosts your favorite contacts on the LG Cookie, is dedicated to the so-called Livesquare with the GW520. Live what? Well, this is something like a register of all incoming calls and received messages grouped by contacts, so you can see how many missed calls and unread messages you have  and who sent them, so you can focus on coming back to certain people. Finally, your contacts get visualized as small human or animal figures. This looks nice and lends some color to the overall design.

The phone Facebook app is Java-based and has its own, dedicated widget that´s only a shortcut to the app itself. It allows access to the basic set of functions Facebook offers - you will be able to change your online status, go over post feeds, see the pictures of your buddies, leave comments, browse albums, rate images, open your mailbox, read the personal pages of your friends etc. Unfortunately, you don’t have the option to see who´s online and start a chat session. We are even less pleased with the fact that you just can´t upload pictures directly from within the app, so you would have to do this by sending emails to your profile. On the overall, the app is good, looks better and feels comfier than the mobile page of Facebook, but we certainly would have liked to see more functions.

The other phone feature the ad hype focuses on is push email.  It´s handled by a Java-based app that comes with automated settings for popular service providers like Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo! And AOL and you have the option to enter all relevant settings manually if you feel like it. We do like the fact that the GW520 manages to find and properly set up email accounts with providers that are not among the afore-mentioned four and all you need to do is just enter your username and password. Notifications of incoming email messages arrive quickly, although not instantaneously as they do on BlackBerry devices. The delay makes us think the app just checks your email accounts every 2-5 minutes. Getting your emails on the phone means you need to have the app switched on all the time. Thankfully, it runs in the background, but unfortunately, it doesn’t feature minimize soft key, so you will have to hide it via the multitasking button. All told, we are disappointed at it, because the app doesn’t seem up to the task, that is to allow you to receive emails instantaneously. Finally, it´s not much different from the standard app that LG preload on their phones.

The LG GW520 sports a 3-megapixel camera without autofocus and flash that fits the bill if you need to capture a nice moment and don’t have a normal, digital camera near at hand, just don’t expect miracles. Images taken outdoors are noisy, with average details and colors that tend to be unrealistically reproduced at times, while macro pictures and somewhat blurry. Things get much worse in artificial lighting conditions. You can capture videos and they tend to be of decent quality, but it´s just too bad their maximum resolution is 320x240 pixels and at only 15 frames per second.

LG GW520 sample video at 320x240 pixels resolution

The phone's audio player is identical to the one on the LG Cookie, but this is not a bad thing in this case. It filters tracks by artist, album, genre etc. Its interface is simplified and without too many extra features, but you have the option to customize the equalizer settings to your liking. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance to hear what the audio playback is like through a pair of earphones, but the built-in loudspeaker produced loud, nice quality sound.

The video player performed decently, but unfortunately, supports a limited range of video formats. The only videos that we were able to play were MPEG-4 and H.263 files with resolution not exceeding the native one of the screen, i.e. 240x400 pixels. The LG GW520 doesn’t have problems playing content in either format, but you better stick to MPEG-4, because image quality is better.


We are pleased at the performance of the LG GW520. We didn’t encounter menu delays or lagging and even switching between portrait and landscape mode is almost instantaneous. Of course, how it fares as a phone is far more important. Everything was loud on our end, but a bit dull and surreal. People on the other end didn’t have any gripes – sound was loud and clear. We are fascinated at the loudspeaker that allows us to properly carry our conversations, although people on the other end tend to complain that sound is not loud enough for them.

The LG GW520 is equipped with a decent battery. According to the manufacturer, its 950 mAh capacity should be able to provide 5hrs of continuous talk time and keep our phone operational for no less than 480hrs (20 days) in standby.


As a whole, the LG GW520 is a good cell phone that boasts fast internet connectivity, really comfy QWERTY keyboard and won´t give you a headache, no matter what you use it for. Frankly, there aren´t many cell phones in this price category that come with both touch sensitive screen and full QWERTY keyboard. If you are willing to give up on the former and for a few bucks less, you can get the Nokia E63 that is a Wi-Fi capable smartphone.

LG GW520 Video Review:


  • Really comfy keyboard
  • The screen is very sensitive
  • Good build quality
  • Decent in-call quality
  • Good Facebook app


  • Mediocre camera
  • Browser without intuitive, finger-based controls
  • Unappealing design

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User Rating:

3 Reviews

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