LG VX8300 Review
The LG VX8300 flip phone for Verizon Wireless is the latest update to the popular VX8100 that was introduced in 2005. The VX8300 builds upon the VX8100, with features that include a 262K color internal display, 65K color OLED external display, Bluetooth, 1.3MP camera, stereo speakers, music player capability, and MicroSD card slot. The retail package includes the VX8300 phone, 1100mAh battery with cover, wall charger, and user manual.
The VX8300 takes away the silver and blue toy look of the VX8100 and replaces it with a more modern and professionally looking dark metallic gray body. The VX8300 weighs 3.88oz and measures 3.58H x 1.93W x .93D, which is average for a Verizon flip phone, but not as compact as the RAZR. Unfortunately the VX8300 lacks an internal antenna, so this will add another inch to the phone making it 4.6 in total height, compared to 3.8 on the Chocolate and RAZR. The upcoming VX8600 will sport an internal antenna.
The phone opens very smoothly and can be accomplished with one hand. The main internal display is 176x220 pixel 262K color TFT. Text is easy to read and images are bright and can show full color, but when taken outside, it is washed out and harder to read in direct sunlight. The display is average and we would of liked to have seen a QVGA display used instead, which has a higher resolution and would allow images and text to look better. Also, the frame surrounding the display is mirrored, which causes more sunlight to reflect. Because of this, we suggest that LG should start using a non-reflective frame around the display to cut down on sunlight reflection. The keypad is the same monochromatic gray color as the rest of the phone. The numeric buttons have white letters and number with bright blue backlighting, which allows for easy viewing at night. They are well spaced and easy to read, but are not lined-up evenly. This can cause a problem for heavy text message users. Located at the top is the 5-way navigation pad, which is used for quick menu access and shares the same bright blue backlight. There is a dedicated speakerphone button below it.
Menu customization on the VX8300 has been improved with two FlashUI themes (Silver Spin and Pulse). They are a welcome change from the boring VerizonUI. The Silver Spin theme is slightly slower than the Pulse theme, but this is due to it being more graphical. If you do choose to use the older VerizonUI themes (Default, Business, Tropical, Blue) it now allows you to choose from 5 colors for the top and bottom bars (Red, Purple, Dark Blue, Aqua Blue, Green). The main menus on the VX8300 are divided into Get It Now, Messaging, Contacts, Recent Calls, Settings & Tools. We pleased to see that Verizon is now allowing users more customization of the Menus, unfortunately the only two phones that can do this are the VX8300 and Chocolate.
There is space to store up to 500 contacts with Name, Mobile #, Home #, Work #, and E-Mail. Another great feature is that it has the option you to select a specific Picture and Ringer for each contact. Then when that person calls, the phone will play the ringer and display the picture that was assigned to them. Pressing the Contacts button will bring up the stored contact list and display it in alphabetical order. Out of the 500 contacts only 98 can be assigned to speed dial.
The VX8300 is also equipped with speakerphone, which can be activated by pressing the speakerphone button on the keypad. When using the speakerphone, we found that a volume setting of Medium or lower sounded best and caused the least distortion in the speakers. Voices sounded clear as long as the volume was not turned to up High. We were disappointed that the phone must remain flipped open to use the speakerphone. If you close the phone, the call will end; unlike the Samsung A990's speakerphone that can be used when the phone is closed. The VoiceCommand is another useful feature that allows the phone to dial a person in your contact list by simply saying their name, or you can speak the digits for the phone to dial. The response was good and was able to work with no errors while in a quite environment. While Testing in a car with the windows open and driving at highway speeds, the VoiceCommand did have some difficulty deciphering what it was being told.
Bluetooth v1.1 allows you to pair up to 20 devices allowing for headset, handsfree, serial port, dial up networking, and object push profiles. Most Bluetooth headsets working with the phone were able to remain static-free for 20-25 feet.
The official V03 of the firmware allows for pairing with stereo audio systems and streaming stereo sound to them via A2DP profile, which improves the multimedia(audio) capabilities of the VX8300 significantly. The new firmware also supports 2GB microSD cards for storing of all your files.
Important dates and events can be added to the Calendar, which the phone will alert you to by playing a ringtone and displaying the event information. Other tools include an Alarm clock, World clock, Notepad, Calculator, and Tip Calculator.
The VX8300 is capable of sending and receiving Text, Pix, and Flix messages. Composing a TXT message is simple when using the T9 predictive text input. Pictures and Videos can also be attached and can be sent to other cell phones and E-Mail addresses.
The embedded 1.3MP CMOS camera takes decent pictures outside with good color saturation, despite the lacking detail. Photo taking indoors can be challenging if there is not a lot of light available. This causes images to appear grainy and out-of-focus. There is a flash that can be used, but the effective range is limited to three feet.
Pressing the camera button on the right side will activate the camera, which takes 3 seconds to initialize. Capturing the image is done by pressing the OK button. There is about a half-a-second delay from the time the OK button is pressed to the time the picture is taken. This is much better than the 2 second delay that plagued the VX8100. Once the picture is taken you can choose to Save, Send, or Erase it. If you choose to save the picture, it will be stored in the phone's internal memory, or you can choose to save it to a MicroSD card.
There are several Camera Menu Options available:
- Resolution: 1280x960, 640x480, 320x240, 176x144, 160x120
- Self Timer: 3, 5, 10 sec
- Flash: On, Off
- Brightness: -9 to +9
- White Balance: Auto, Sunny, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent
- Shutter Sound: Shutter, Silent, Say Cheeze', Ready 123
- Color Effects: Normal, Sepia, B&W, Negative, Solari, Vivid
- Night Mode: On, Off
- Front Display: On, Off
Pressing and holding the camera button will take you to the Video Recording feature. You start and stop recording by pressing the OK button. There are a few options available for Brightness, White Balance, Time Limit, and Front Display, but there is no option to turn off the sound that is made when you start/stop recording. If you install a MicroSD card, you can go into the Time Limit option and change it from 15 seconds to Available Memory. The phone is only capable of recording videos at 176x144 resolution, so playback on a computer will not look good. Videos have low frame-per-second count and colors are blotchy. The only phone to offer a higher 320x240 recording mode is the Samsung A990.
Music playback is something that the VX8300 excels at. First you must have the phone format the MicroSD card. You then remove the card and place it in a USB reader attached to your computer. Then simply copy the MP3 and WMA music files to the My_Music directory on the card. Put the card back into the phone and launch the Manage Music application. Music can be organized by Genres, Albums, and Artists. Once the music begins to play, the internal display will show information regarding the song. You can also close the phone and view the information on the external display while the song is playing. The music buttons on the front of the phone are backlit and allow for easy control over Rewind/Skip-Back, Play/Pause, and Fast Forward/Skip-Ahead. When comparing the music playback of the VX8300 agents the Chocolate, the VX8300 had the best sound quality, lower distortion, and is louder because of the built-in stereo speakers. Because of this, we feel that the VX8300 does a better overall job of music playback than the Chocolate.
Limited Internet access is accomplished using the WAP browser. You are connected to Verizon's Mobile Web site that provides information for News, Sports, and Weather. It also allows access to other WAP site and HTTP sites, but HTTP sites with a lot of images can have problems loading. When used in an EVDO coverage area, WAP sites will load in under 3 seconds, as opposed to 8-10 seconds when in a 1x coverage area.
We were also very pleased with the voice and call quality on the VX8300. Most people that we called were unable to tell that a cell phone was being used. The earpiece volume can be raised quite loud and does not fluctuate, which was a problem with the VX8100. Voices are clear and easily heard, with no static or audible interference. The phone was also able to pick up a signal in fringe areas where most other phones have trouble. Since the VX8300 performs well with calls, we rate it almost as good as the Samsung A990's call quality.
The included 1100mAh battery provided us with 3Hr 20Min of Talk Time or 8 Days of StandBy time. This is above average, and is much better than the 2.5Hr talk time that we got on the Chocolate. Charging time took 3 hours.
The VX8300 is an excellent phone with many features, so it is no wonder that it is one of the most popular phones sold by Verizon. The overall look and quality has been improved since the VX8100 was introduced last year. If you are interested in a flip phone with dual color displays, 1.3MP camera, Bluetooth, speakerphone, good voice quality, a MicroSD slot, and MP3 music playback, but without all the hype of the Chocolate; we highly recommend the LG VX8300.