LG Lotus Elite Review

Introduction and Design
LG Lotus Elite Release Date - January 11, 2010

It’s happening.  Just a few years ago only the most high-end of devices featured a touchscreen of any sort.  Today it has worked its way into low-end devices like the LG Lotus Elite.  Don’t get us wrong, this isn’t a knock on LG, but the trend has not only made its way to the masses but has made its way to non-traditional devices.  The Lotus was as non-traditional as it got, at least when it came to design.  It was short and fat and awkward to hold when on the phone, but made up for it with a pretty good QWERTY keypad and decent specs.  This time around the specs remain nearly identical- it has the same 2 megapixel camera, 3G, microSD and 2.4” QVGA main display- but the front LCD has been overhauled with touch functionality.  So is it really worth the upgrade?  Read on to find out.

Included in the box you’ll find:

•    AC adapter
•    1GB microSD card
•    Fashion hand strap


The Lotus Elite retains basically the same footprint as the original, but feels much different in the hand.  It’s beefier, but not necessarily in a bad way; the Lotus never felt cheap, but the Elite feels very well constructed.  LG is again targeting the fashionistas with a fancy flowery pattern adorning the housing, but like the original we don’t see anyone serious about fashion giving the Lotus Elite a second look.  It’s just quirky enough to appeal to the masses though, which is the ultimate end game.

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

The outer screen is 2.4”, has a resolution of 320x240 pixels, features 262K colors and utilizes resistive touch technology.  The quality is good, though it looks a bit washed out at times.  It is responsive to touch, though the unlock slider wasn’t always accurate.  It does offer a calibration tool but we still found it to be just slightly off at times.  Below the display are stereo speakers.  Flipping open the Lotus Elite reveals another 2.4” QVGA panel with 262K colors, albeit not touch.  Though these are the same specs as the original Lotus, this new display is noticeably crisper and colors look more intense.  It could just be the black bezel around it, but the colors seemed more vibrant compared to the outside panel.

We liked the keyboard enough the first time around, but LG has reworked it on the Lotus Elite with good results.  The design is more visually pleasing, but functionality has also been added with dedicated keys for social networking, email and text.  The keys still retain enough relief and clickiness that typing isn’t an issue.  The 5-way directional pad is flanked by a Speakerphone and Back key, to go along with the traditional Send/End and soft keys.

Along the left side of the phone is sadly only a 2.5mm headset jack, the volume rocker and the microUSB charging/data port.  The right side houses the Camera and Lock buttons, and at the bottom you’ll find the microSD slot.  The camera has moved from the flip to the hinge.  When the phone is closed the camera faces backwards and the touchscreen can be used as a viewfinder.  When opened it rotates to face the user, allowing for easy self-shots.

Despite being over an ounce heavier than the Lotus, we prefer the feel of the Lotus Elite.  It is still an awkward and uncomfortable device to hold one-handed for extended periods of time, but the added width makes two-handed texting better.  Overall LG has taken a quirky design and made it better.

LG Lotus Elite 360 Degrees View:


On the inside the Lotus Elite runs the same One Click interface we’ve seen for over a year now, so we won’t cover it any more since there is nothing new.  We will note that it runs smoothest on the Elite; transitions were quick and overall the device is very snappy.  The new Social, Email and Text buttons take you to, respectively, your social network tab of choice, Sprint Mobile Email and Messaging.  They only work on the homescreen though, if you are within a menu or another program they do not take you out.

The outer touchscreen adds a new UI element to the device, and actually manages to be quite useful.  There are five areas of the phone that can be accessed from this outside display: Messaging, Slide Show, Speed Dial, Contacts and History, each of which can be accessed in one of two ways.  First is a pop-up menu (think Android’s application drawer) which has a simple list of items that can be selected.  The second way is to swipe from panel-to-panel from the homescreen.  It is reminiscent of HTC’s original TouchFLO cube, although there can be as many as six “sides” and it is linear not circular, so if you’re on panel 6 you cannot go directly to panel 1, you have to swipe back down the panels.  From the slider drawer you can choose which items you want to appear as panels.

All panels except for Slide Show allow you to initiate a call.  Obviously from the History, Speed Dial or Contacts panel you can simply tap on the number.  From the Messaging panel you can view all of your text messages, and then choose to reply (phone has to be flipped open) or to call the contact back.  As the name implies the Slide Show panel displays your pictures as a slide show.

Other things can be done from the homescreen as well, such as TV and music.  SprintTV actually looks quite good on the Lotus Elite, and the music player is controlled via touchscreen in lieu of music keys this time around.  It would be nice if these applications could be launched from the outside display and we see no reason why they couldn’t simply be another panel.  As mentioned earlier the camera can be used with the flip closed as well, thankfully this can be launched via the dedicated camera key on the right side.  It could be made better, but the outside display manages to avoid the gimmicky tag we were worried about.


There are no new tricks this time around; the Lotus Elite supports the standard Sprint multimedia suite of SprintTV, Radio and their Music Store.  Sound quality was actually quite good on the Elite’s stereo speakers, but unfortunately it lacks a 3.5mm headset jack.  As noted earlier the SprintTV application ran smoothly.  The service is more comprehensive than mobile TV offerings from Verizon and AT&T, but the quality is still not up to par since it shares the airwaves with cellular transmissions rather than having a dedicated band.

Camera quality has not been LG’s strong suit in the past, but images turned out pretty decent all things considered.  Color representation was good and for the most part pictures turned out well.  In low-light conditions there was pretty bad graining and when viewed full-size some detail was blurred, but all-in-all the 2 megapixel shooter did just fine for what it is.  Videos can be captured at a max resolution of 320x240, and the only controls you have over either the camera or camcorder are white balance, brightness and color tones.  A nice addition is the auto-send feature, which will automatically upload a picture to the site of your choosing (Facebook, YouTube, Photobucket or MySpace) or send it via email.

Performance and Conclusion:

Call quality was quite good on both ends with the LG Lotus Elite.  Callers said we were very clear and did not have any complaints about sound quality.  On our end they were plenty loud, voice reproduction was natural and everything sounded great.  It is definitely one of the better phones we have tested recently.  CDMA talk time is getting better and better, so while the Lotus Elite’s rated talk time is average at 5.9 hours it is still plenty.

The LG Lotus Elite is a fine refresh to the original Lotus.  The main change is obviously the outer touchscreen which manages to be useful.  Performance of the user interface was pleasantly above average and phone performance was excellent.  The biggest drawback to the Lotus Elite is its current $100 dollar price tag, placing it in direct completion with more capable phones like the Palm Pixi and double similar devices like the Samsung Reclaim.  The Lotus debuted at $100 as well before dropping to $50, if a similar price cut is in the works for the Elite we would find it to be a compelling offering.

LG Lotus Elite Video Review:


  • Excellent call quality
  • Useful outside touchscreen
  • Snappy UI
  • Good QWERTY


  • Hefty price tag
  • Awkward feel

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