LG VX8700 Review
The most noticeable feature of the VX8700 is the brushed-metal body, which has a modern and sophisticated look. The exterior construction seems well made and does not show fingerprints as much as the VX8600. The phone fits very well in the hand and is easy to hold, but does require both hands to open the flip. In your pocket, the VX8700 is almost not noticeable, but since the weight is 3.77oz, compared to 3.26 on the VX8600, some many notice it more than others.
3.8" x 1.95" x 0.5"
97 x 49.5 x 14
3.9" x 1.9" x 0.6"
99 x 48.5 x 15
3.8" x 1.9" x 0.7"
96.5 x 48 x 17.5
4.6" x 2.1" x 0.8"
118 x 53 x 20
On the front flip is a unique vertical display, capable of 65K colors and with a resolution of 160x48 pixels. The phone must be held sideways in order to read it. The display shows the Date & Time, Signal Strength, Battery Level, and any message alerts. Unfortunately, there are no settings to have your own wallpapers assigned to it. We personally liked the larger and more traditional looking external display on the VX8600. The 2MP CMOS Camera is located directly above the display.
Opening up the phone will reveal the impressive 262K Color QVGA TFT Display. Images on the display have excellent color representation and sharp contrast, with text being clear and with no jagged edges. The top of the display shows status icons for the signal strength, battery level, GPS, and Bluetooth. The Date & Time is shown at the bottom. Despite the quality of this display, it was still lacking on outside use. In direct sunlight, the display is almost unreadable, and the chrome frame around it is very reflective. A possible solution to this would be if chrome around it was replaced with silver plastic and if there were a brightness adjustment for the screen.
Below the display is the plastic (but metal looking) keypad. The buttons are well spaced and feature a bright white backlight. The 5-way Navigational control at the top is easy to use and provides one-button access to the Main Menu, Mobile Web, VCast, Get it Now, and the Calendar. To the left of it is the Clear button, and to the right is the designated Speakerphone button. The numeric dialing keys have large numbers and letters, making them easy to read for TXT messaging. While the keypad is still flat, it does provide more tactile feel and response than on the previous VX8600 model, but does not come close to the Maxx Ve where you can literally feel the raised letters and numbers.
There are two FlashUI Themes that are included: Metallic and Business. The default Metallic theme is best looking of the two and helps to carry over the monochromatic metal look of the phone into the software. This theme is very graphical so the response time is slightly slower than when using the Business theme. However, this slightly slower response time is greatly outweighed by the look and design of the Metallic theme. Pressing the OK button the keypad will access the Main Menu, which is organized into five categories: Get it Now, Messaging, Contacts, Recent Calls, and Settings & Tools. This categorization is the same that is used on most Verizon phones, and is laid out so that sub-menus can be easily found.
Both the VX8700 and VX8600 share the same phonebook features, except that the VX8700 now supports up to 1000 contacts instead of the standard 500. With each contact you can enter in the Name, Mobile 1 number, Home number, Work number, E-Mail 1 address, Group list, Mobile 2 number, Fax number, and Email 2 address. The Picture and Ringtone settings allow you to assign a designated picture and ringtone to each of your contacts. When that person calls, their specific ringtone will be played and the internal display will show their picture. However, the external display is only capable of showing the name or number of the person calling. To access your saved contacts list, you simply press the Right Soft Key on the keypad. This will bring up your contacts in alphabetical order that you can then scroll through. If you have a large list, you can type in their name in the Go To field and it will automatically find any matching results. Out of your 1000 contacts, only 95 of them can be assigned a Speed Dial location.
The Calendar is accessed by pressing the down button on the navigational pad. It begins by showing you the month with the current date selected. You can use the keypad arrows to select any day, month, and year that you wish. Once a date is selected, you can add multiple events (appointments) to each day. You can enter in the Subject, Start Time, End Time, Repeat (once, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly), Until, Alerts, and Tones. When you reach that date and time, the phone will play the assigned tone and display the information on the display.
The VX8700 is also capable of sending and receiving Text, Picture, and Video messages. Accessing the Messaging Menu is done by pressing the Left Soft Key. From here you can select from New Message, Inbox, Sent, Drafts, Voicemail, Mobile IM, Email, and Chat. When choosing New Message, you are given the option to create and send a TXT, Picture, or Video Message. Sending a TXT message is done by entering in cell phone # or E-Mail address, then typing in the body of the message. The phone uses T9 entry, where the software tries to predict the words that you are typing in. Sending a Picture or Video message is done in similar fashion except that you can attach a picture or video file from the phone’s internal memory or from the memory card. Composing a Text Message is somewhat easier on the VX8700 than on the VX8600, due to the keypad having a more tactile feel and not being completely smooth. The letters are large and easy to see in all lighting conditions. Heavy text message users should not have a problem using the VX8700, but should consider the enV, due to the easy-to-use QWERTY keypad.
Bluetooth version 1.2 will allow up to 20 device pairings. The supported profiles include: Headset, Handsfree, Dial up Networking, Serial port, Stereo A2DP, File Transfer, AVRC, OPP for vCard & vCal, Phone Book Access, Basic Printing, and Basic Imaging. When the VX8700 was paired with our Jabra v250 headset, we were able to get almost 30 feet of static free call quality. For Stereo Bluetooth use (A2DP & AVRC) we paired with the LG HBS-110 earbuds, which also provided static free stereo music up to 30 feet. If you have a Bluetooth compatible printer, you can send and print images taken by the camera without having to remove the memory card. Also, if your computer has Bluetooth support, you can send pictures, videos, and sounds to and from the phone. We are glad to see that Verizon is now allowing more BT Profiles to be included on their phones. We can only hope that this trend continues and that eventually Verizon will allow full BT support on their devices.
Since the VX87000 is not a SmartPhone, Internet browsing is limited to the included WAP 2.0 browser. Accessing it is done by simply pressing the UP arrow on the navigational pad. This will connect you to Verizon’s Mobile Web service, with categories for News, Weather, Email, Sports, Entertainment, Shopping, and VZW Services. You may also enter in a specific WAP or HTTP address by selecting Search and the Go to URL. Within an EVDO coverage area, most WAP site load in under 5 seconds. However, HTTP sites can take up to 15 seconds depending on content. Most HTTP sties will not be displayed properly and there is no support for Java, ActiveX, and other embedded objects. Because of these limitations, we can only recommend the WAP browser for people that are content with only visiting WAP sites. If you need to view HTTP sites on a mobile device, then a SmartPhone is a much better choice.
The included 2MP camera is a nice update from the 1.3MP camera that was used on the VX8600. This makes the VX8700 and the enV the only two LG Verizon phones that sport a 2MP camera. Images taken with the VX8700 have good color representation, but did require the occasional manual White Balance adjustment since the Auto setting was not always 100% accurate. We also noticed that images from the VX8700 did not look as clear and sharp as images from the enV, even with the AutoFocus on the enV turned Off. These differences could be caused by different sensors or lenses being used. There is also a lack of a Flash, which makes picture taking in low-light near to impossible. Activating the Camera is done so by pressing the camera button on the right side of the phone. Pressing the OK button will take the picture, which there is less than a 1 second delay in capturing the image. Once the image has been taken, you can choose to Save, Send, or Erase. Saving the picture takes another 4 seconds to complete. The total time to take one picture, save it, and be ready to take another picture is 6 seconds. Even though this takes longer than a standard Digital Cameras, a 6 seconds turn-around for a cell phone is quite reasonable, considering some models take much longer. While the camera is turned on, you can close the flip and press the camera button again to activate the front display for taking self-portraits. You then capture the image by pressing the side camera button. We like the idea of being able to use the front display for taking self-portraits, however since the display is not very wide, you can only see the center of the image it will take.
- Resolution: 1600x1200, 1280x960, 640x480, 320x240
- Self Timer: Off, 3 sec, 5 sec, 10 sec
- White Balance: Auto, Sunny, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Glow
- Shutter Sound: Shutter, No Sound, Say Cheese, Ready 123
- Color Effects: Normal, Negative, Aqua, Sepia, B&W
- Night Mode: On, Off
- Save Option: Internal, External (MicroSD)
- Photometry: Average, Spot, Spot Multiple
- Preview: Actual View, Full Screen
Pressing and holding the side camera button will activate the Video Recording mode. Videos can be started and stopped by pressing the OK button. The video options include Record Time (30 sec for send, or up to 1hr for save), Resolution (320x240, 176x144), Save Options (internal or external memory), Color Effects, and White Balance. Despite using the higher 320x240 resolution, videos that were played back on a PC had blotchy color, soft edges, and poor detail. Video recording on phones is strictly a novelty due to the overall poor quality that is recorded. This is intended to be used for “fun” and not for recording your vacation videos.
Just like on previous models, the VX8700 can playback both MP3 and WMA music files that are stored on a MicroSD card. To format the card, place the MicroSD card in the phone and go to Menu, Settings & Tools, Memory, Card Memory, Options, and Format. Then connect the card to your computer and copy the music files to the “my_music” directory on the memory card. After the files are transferred, place the card back into the phone and access the music player located in the Music & Tones menu. Music is categorized by Genre, Artists, Album, Song, and Playlist. Once the song begins playback, the screen will display the song information. You can use the arrow buttons to Rewind/Skip-Back, Play/Pause, and Fast-Forward/Skip-Ahead. Closing the flip during playback will show the song information on the front display. Unfortunately when the flip is closed, the music will sound muffled, and there are no external music control buttons like on the VX8600, Chocolate, A990, and Maxx Ve. The overall music playback quality of the VX8700 leaves much to be desired. Just like with the speakerphone and ringtones, all sounds are played through the earpiece speaker. Unfortunately raising the volume past Medium will cause distortion to be heard while the music is playing. The best way to experience music playback it to use wired earbuds or a Stereo Bluetooth A2DP device. Doing so will bypass the need to play music through the speaker on the phone. We used the LG Bluetooth HBS-110 device and the quality was greatly improved. However, if you are looking for a phone that plays good quality music without the use of earbuds, we would suggest the LG enV, VX8300, Motorola Maxx Ve, and Samsung A990.
Downloadable application for the VX8700 use Qualcomm’s BREW format. There are no preloaded games or applications on the phone, which must be downloaded via Get it Now. Game selections include Strategy, Casino, Action, TV/Movie, Classic, Sports, Puzzle, and 3D V Cast. The most popular and useful application is the VZ Navigator GPS program. With it, you can enter in your destination and the program will give you real-time GPS directions on how to get there. The screen will display the directions, showing streets and turns, while a voice will read the directions to you. This is very useful while away on vacation or for driving somewhere you have never been. This program work very well while in a car and is easy to use. If you happen to miss a turn, the program will recalculate the route and give you updated directions.
Other tools included on the VX8700 include a Calculator, Calendar, Alarm Clock with 3 alarms, World Clock, Notepad, and EZ Tip Calculator.
The internal antenna on the VX8700 is located at the bottom of the phone, just like on the Motorola RAZR and KRZR units. Despite this location, the RF Reception was equal to other LG phones. Unfortunately, this does not hold true to the call quality using the phone’s earpiece. During every phone call, we could hear a “sssss” sound in the background, almost like a “white noise” sound. This is the first LG phone in quite some time that we have noticed this on. It was most noticeable while using the phone in a quiet room. We decided to test another VX8700 unit and it was noticeable on there as well. We are unsure if this is a problem with all VX8700 units or just the ones that were available to us. Also, at times, we could hear high-pitch noises that could only be described as “electronic” sounding. This is the first LG phone since the VX6000 and VX7000 that we have noticed this on. We can only guess as to why theses sounds are there. It most likely has to do with either the Integrated Circuit paths on the phone, or the Qualcomm chip that decodes the digital voice data. Despite those “background sounds” the actual Voice Quality was quite good, as long as the volume was not turned up too much. Turning it up past medium would thus again cause distortion in the earpiece speaker. Some people may not hear these “background” sounds or care about the distortion in the speaker. While looking at the thickness of the top-flip, you can see that there is not much space for a large speaker. Therefore, LG had to use a speaker small enough fit, and the diaphragm would not be able to vibrate back-and-forth enough while used during higher volume settings. This is the cause of distortion in the speaker. Because of the overall poor quality of the speaker and the “background” noises, we feel that one should consider other phones that do a better job of call quality, such as the VX8300, enV, A990, and Maxx Ve.
The included battery is only 800mAh, which is the same capacity that is used on the VX8600, and Chocolate. We were able to get 2Hr 30Min of Talk Time, or 3 Days of Standby time. This is far less that the LG rated 3Hr 20Min of Talk Time or 10 Days of standby time. One can only imagine under what circumstances an 800mAh battery will provide 10 days of standby time. Charging time took 3 hours.
The VX8700 is a welcome update to the LG 8000-series phones. Its brushed metal exterior is unique and will stand out agents most other phones. The construction feels well made and should hold up with normal use, and is slim enough to stick in your pants pocket without it being too noticeable. The external display, though small, does its job well, while the QVGA internal display really shows off. The keypad is laid out well, with bright backlighting, and is easy to use for TXTing. The Metallic FlashUI theme is one of the best we have seen and it compliments the overall style of the phone. The 2MP camera, though not as good as the enV and A990, does take pictures that are better than most other phones, including the Chocolate and VX8600. Music playback is a disappointment due to the lack of external control buttons and the low quality speaker that is used. The only work around is to use wired earbuds or a Bluetooth Stereo device. This also holds true for the use of the speakerphone and ringtones; that the earpiece speaker’s low quality is the main drawback of this phone. The call quality was also hampered by the speaker. The “background” noises that are heard during calls may be more noticeable to some people than others, so use your own judgment when testing this phone out. We found ourselves having a tough time deciding if the VX8600 or VX8700 is the better device. After some thought, we came to the conclusion that neither one is better, that each has their highlights and their drawbacks. If you are looking for the most stylish phone that Verizon carries, and don’t mind its quirks, then this is the phone for you. However, if you are looking for a quality “all-in-one” phone that does most everything well, then we still recommend going with the enV and A990. The Motorola Maxx Ve has also just been released, so keep checking back to see how it stacks-up agents the VX8700.