LG Versa Review

Introduction and Design

One of the most intriguing phones to be released by Verizon this year is the Versa, which is now the third touchscreen phone offered by LG, after the Voyager and Dare.  It builds upon the previous models in terms of usability and functionality, but brings something unique to the table: a detachable QWERTY keyboard module.  One could say, “if you don’t need an attached keyboard all the time (like the Voyager), but do need one on occasion, then the Versa is the best of both worlds”.  But does it hold up to all of the hype? Let’s find out.

Included in the retail package is the Versa phone, QWERTY keyboard module, 1100mAh battery with cover, combination wall charger/microUSB cable, user manual, and stylus.


At first glance, the Versa looks like it could have been separated at birth from the Dare, as both appear almost the same.  It is constructed out of plastic, but instead of being black, this time around uses a dark cappuccino color with silver accents.  The front remains a fingerprint magnet, and the back has the familiar soft-touch coating that is found on most LG models.  The modular phone overall feels a little more durable than the Dare, and is easier to hold in your hand or place in your pocket, since it’s not as wide.

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

Attaching the QWERTY
keyboard can be a tad tricky at first, but after a few times we had no problem using it.  First you have to remove the battery cover by sliding the release lever (if you are using the extended battery you’ll have to change to the standard battery), then line-up the connecting pins on the keyboard and snap the two together.  If the phone’s power is on, you’ll know that it’s properly attached since the buttons will light up.  The keyboard module is the same color as the battery cover, but has a faux leather embossed finish on the exterior, which looks a bit tacky.  We found the keyboard to be laid out well and easy to use for typing, since the buttons are large and well spaced.  They also provide good feedback when pressed, but unfortunately are smooth and almost flat with the surrounding plastic.  After typing for a while, we began to notice that the unit was top-heavy, since most of the weight is in the phone, instead of being evenly distributed like the Voyager and enV2. 

When you do not use the keyboard, you can “close” the phone, as with the Voyager. The exterior front has a small 56x120 pixel blue OLED, reminiscent of the older VX6000, and can show the signal strength, battery level, date and time. When someone calls, it will then show the number or phonebook name.  Located at the bottom is the Send and End key, but the Send key will also act as a redial if pressed twice.  Since there isn’t an external numeric keypad, you have to flip it open and dial the number on the internal display, then close it back, as there is a small slit above the OLED to hear through.  After a while, we found this opening and closing a bit tedious, but it is a trade-off for having the keyboard attached.  We believe that a better design would be a sliding keyboard, similar to the Samsung Glyde.  That way you could slide the keyboard out when you need it and slide it back when you’re done, thus eliminating the constant opening and closing of the flip.

The Versa’s main display is 3” diagonal, 240x480 pixel TFT that supports up to 262K colors.  It is slightly taller than the Dare’s display, but not as wide.  It continues to use resistive technology, but is more sensitive than previous models and is firmer to the touch, instead of the “flexing plastic” that we experienced with the Voyager.  The intergraded light sensor will automatically adjust the display’s backlight based on the surround light level, which works well most of the time, but lacks any manual adjustment.  We also found that images and text looked better on the Versa, probably due to the slightly higher pixel count.  There is also a proximity sensory that will turn the display off if the phone is next to your face while you’re on a call.

Just like with the Dare, there are a limited amount of physical buttons on the exterior.  Located on the front are the Send, Clear/VoiceCommand, and End/Power buttons, with the Volume rocker and Camera button located on the left side.  There is also a 2.5mm headset jack, microUSB port, and microSDHC card slot that supports up to 16GB memory cards.  Unfortunately, the memory card slot is not accessible when the QWERTY keyboard is attached.  The 2MP autofocus camera and flash are located on the back.

LG Versa Video Review:

LG Versa 360 Degrees View

User Interface:

If you happen to be coming from the Voyager or Dare, you’ll immediately appreciate the improved user interface found on the Versa.  There are now three Home Screens (Shortcuts, Favorites, and Media) that you can flip through by dragging your finger from one side of the screen to the other.  If the keyboard is attached there is a fourth Home Screen called Module.  Each one will allow you to add icons to the desktop for one-click access.  The Shortcuts screen will show almost an endless list of items, such as Camera, Bluetooth, and Alarm, while the Favorites will show your contacts, and the Media will display lists of music, pictures, and videos.  We found this design to be very useful and intuitive, as we could place frequently used applications, contacts, and music directly on the desktop.  Regardless of which Home Screen you are in, there are always four icons located at the bottom for Inbox, Phone, Main Menu, and Contacts.

The actual Main Menu is laid out in grid format with 8 icons, but can be changed to Smart Menu, which shows a list on the left side that you can choose from, and actions on the right side.  For example, selecting Call on the left will show Contact, Recent Calls, New Number, Favorites, and Voicemail on the right.  After using this format for a while, we decided to change back to grid view, as it was easier to find what we were looking for.  There are no themes included, but it does allow you to select different wallpaper for each Home Screen, as well as changing the font style.


The phone has the ability to add up to 1000 Contacts, each with mutable numbers and e-mail addresses, and then can save them to one of 999 speed dial locations.  When bringing up the contact list, it begins by showing a small keypad on the bottom of the screen, which you can use to type the name of the contact.  Otherwise you can scroll through the list manually to select the one you want.  While in the Favorites Home Screen, pressing on a desktop contact will show four icons around it for call, text message, received messages, and contact view.  One feature we were pleased to see is that the CallerID image is larger than on the Dare, even though it still doesn’t fill the entire screen.

Selecting the Phone icon on the bottom of any Home Screen will bring up the numeric dial pad.  After using the Versa for a few days, we found that it was slightly more accurate when dialing numbers than the Dare.  It also gives you the option of keeping the dial pad active on the screen when calling voicemail/toll-free, all calls, or customized number.  This comes in handy when needing to enter in prompts or PIN codes.


The calendar function on both the Versa and Dare are identical, as it begins by showing the current month with the date highlighted.  You can then move from one month to the next, by moving your finger across the screen, or by selecting the month and year using the drop-down-list or go-to-date fields.  There is also the option to view weekly instead of monthly.  Once the desired date is selected, you add a new event with the subject, start time, end time, repeat (once, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly), until, alerts, tone, and vibrate.  When the phone reaches that saved event, it will display the information on the screen and playback the designated alert tone.

The Versa is also the first non-smartphone for Verizon to allow up to 10 individual Alarms to be saved separate from the calendar.  This is a welcome improvement over the standard 3.

Launching the speaker-independent Voice Commands is done so by pressing the center button between the send and end keys.  Once activated, there are 8 choices that you can speak to the phone: call name or number, send message to, go to menu, check item, contacts name, play, My Verizon, and help.  The most useful of these is the “call” command, where you can speak the digits to dial or the name of a person in your contacts list.  The only training that is recommended are for the digits and commands, not for the stored names.  We were able to use the voice commands in a wide variety of environments, and it was accurately able to carry out our spoken commands.  It can also be used in conjunction with a Bluetooth headset, so you can call numbers while you are away from the phone.

The internal memory is now 310MB, up from the Dare’s 268MB, and is not partitioned into application memory and music memory, but instead uses the same pool.  Despite this, it is still easier to transfer pictures, videos, and store music via a microSDHC card, which now supports up to 16GB in size.


Composing a message can be accomplished by using the touchscreen with either multi-tap, T9 predictive, handwriting recognition, or by turning the phone horizontally and using the on-screen virtual QWERTY keyboard.  But the more avid TXTer will probably attach the physical keyboard, as it is easier and more accurate to use.  Another new feature is the Threaded Messaging, which will group all inbox messages by the sender.  This has been requested by users for several years, and we’re glad to see it on the Versa.

There is the option of downloading a program called Mobile Email so that you can connect with your own personal E-Mail accounts while on the go.  The updated version will periodically check your accounts for new emails and notify you, but they do not get “pushed” to the phone.  It comes preloaded with the ability to connect to Yahoo Mail, Windows Live Mail, AOL, AIM, and Verizon.net, but you can also manually configure it to connect to any other E-Mail account.  We were able to access all of our E-Mail accounts without any problems, and could send messages through the account server.  When viewing a new message, you can choose not delete it from the server, so that you can download it later when you are connected using a PC.  Even though this application is not as feature-rich as Windows Mobile Outlook, it does a fairly good job for showing plain-text E-Mails.  However, it cannot open attachments or properly render HTML messages, which is a disappointment in 2009.

For people who like to use Instant Messaging, the Versa comes preinstalled with Mobile IM, which will connect you to AIM, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo.  After signing in, you and can send and receive IMs, but it is basically glorified text messaging to people on your buddy list and will count on your calling plan the same as using text messages.

The new Visual Voicemail program can also be installed, which is another improvement when compared to the Dare.  With it, you can easily playback your voicemail messages using the on-screen controls, instead of just listening to the prompts.

Connectivity and Data:

The Versa is a dual band phone that operates on the 800MHz and 1900MHz CDMA Verizon Wireless network.  Non-voice data, such as Web and E-mail, are transmitted using Verizon’s 3G EVDO Rev A network, which is said to have download speeds between 600-1400kbps and uploads between 500-800kbps.  However, this can vary during the time of day and the amount of network congestion.  We tested the Versa at different times downloading a 1MB file from DSLReports.com.  On average we got between 500-800kbps, but on occasion would see from 900-1100kbps.  While roaming, the phone is backwards compatible with the older EVDO Rev 0 and 1X networks.

Bluetooth version 2.1 + EDR (enhanced data rate) is supported and allows up to 20 pairings.  Supported profiles include: headset, hands-free, dial-up networking, stereo (A2DP/AVRC), phone book access, basic printing, object push, file transfer, basic imaging, and human interface device.  When connecting with our Motorola HT820 stereo headset, we did not experience the auto-pair problems like we did with the Dare we reviewed last year, but that was eventually fixed in a firmware upgrade.

For Internet connections, the Versa uses Verizon’s EVDO Rev A network, as it lacks built in Wi-Fi, but there is a rumored Wi-Fi module that may (or may not) come out.  When launching the browser, you are taken to the VZW Today homepage, which has quick-launch icons for several categories, and browser will automatically change viewing modes depending if the phone is in portrait or landscape position.  There are two icons in the bottom corners, one for quick zooming and the other to bring-up the full menu bar.  Across the top is the address bar, which you can enter in a web address via the touchscreen or QWERTY keyboard.  Next to it are three Tabs, which act in similar fashion to tab viewing in Internet Explorer and Firefox, so that three browser windows can be loaded at once and you can select which one you wish to view.  Since the browser is HTML compatible, most sites are displayed and rendered as they would appear on a PC, but due to the small screen size, there is a lot of horizontal and vertical scrolling that must be done. This can be eliminated some by zooming out.  There is also a mini-map that you can enable, which shows a small thumbnail of the web page with a red rectangle that can be moved around.  Even though the touchscreen is more sensitive and accurate than the Dare, you will still need to zoom-in on small hyperlink text or use a stylus (one is included).

The Versa is also the first non-smartphone to support Adobe Flash plug-ins, but as we found out, that support is quite limited.  When going to a web site that contains a Flash file, there will be a green play button that you have to press.  This will download the file, but if it is too large or complex, it will give an error.  Some embedded Flash files did work, such as being able to view YouTube videos directly in the page, but others, such as interactive games or manuals, would not work right.  Because of these limitations, don’t expect Flash to work for every site you visit.

The time required for the browser to completely load graphically rich sites, such as PhoneArena.com, is 22 seconds, which is identical to the Dare, but noticeably quicker than the 50 seconds required by the Voyager and Glyde.  We’re sure that this is due to the device supporting the faster EVDO Rev A network.  More simplistic sites, such as Google, only took 3 seconds to load.  Overall, the Versa’s browser is the fastest and most functional that we’ve seen on a non-smartphone from Verizon.

Computer Sync:

Detaching the USB cable from the wall plug allows you to use it for connecting the Versa directly to a PC.  When going into the settings & tools menu, there is an option for USB Auto Detection (Sync Music, Sync Data, Ask on Plug).  When selecting “Ask on Plug”, each time your PC is connected to the device, the phone’s screen will ask if you want to sync music or data.  If you select “Sync Music” you can use Windows Media Player, Real Player, or Rhapsody to transfer music files to and from the phone’s internal memory or microSD card.  However, if you select “Sync Data” then go to Tools and USB Mass Storage, the microSD card is shown as a Removable Storage device connected to your PC, where you can copy pictures, videos and music files.  This is by far the easiest method of transferring files, as it eliminates the need of having to carry around an external card reader.


Even though the Versa and Dare share many common bonds, the camera is not one of them.  Included on the Versa is a 2MP sensor, instead of the 3.2MP sensor with higher quality Schneider Kreuznach lens used on the Dare.  The Autofocus is also a one-stop on the Versa, instead of a two-stop on the Dare (like a traditional digital camera).  Most other controls are equivalent, with icons along the bottom and side of the screen to change resolution, shooting mode, self-timer, and other adjustments.

When reviewing the images on a PC that we took with both phones, it was clear that the pictures from the Dare looked better overall.  The Versa’s images were not as clear, colors were off some, and had an occasional issue with the auto white balance.  There was also a dramatic difference with the flash, almost non-existent on the Versa, but blinding on the Dare.  If you are the type of person that uses their phone a lot to take pictures and want the best quality, then the Dare is the better choice between the two.

Both devices can record videos at 640x480 resolution, but is limited to 15 fps playback.  We recorded a video with both at that resolution, but noticed that the Dare’s video looked better.  When viewing the properties, we saw the Dare’s video had a Data Rate of 1.2 mbps, where the Versa was a lower 430 kbps.

Sample videos at 640x480 pixels resolution: LG Versa, LG Dare
* Note that due to codecs support, you may not be able to play the file.


The look and feel of the Music Player has been improved upon, but still categorizes music into all songs, playlists, artists, genres, and albums.  Once the song begins playback, it will show the album art on the screen, a sliding progress bar, and buttons for rewind, pause, and fast-forward.  Missing are the equalizer effects that are found on the Dare.  Thankfully, multitasking is still supported, as you can exit the music player while the song is playing and use other features of the phone, such as the browser or messaging.  While it is in this mode, it will change the desktop wallpaper and show a drop down list at the top of the screen.  You can always exit this by closing the player.

The music quality through the rear mono speaker is adequate and equal to that of the Dare, but not as good as the stereo speakers found on the Chocolate 3 or VX8360.  You can also listen to music via Stereo Bluetooth A2DP, but we noticed a few problems.  There is some instrument distortion being produced and a high-pitch sound in the background.  We tried two different stereo Bluetooth headsets and experienced the same issue with both, but when connected to the Dare, it sounded fine as it lacked the distortion and high-pitch sound.  We hope this can be corrected in a firmware update.

Streaming Video playback is limited to Verizon's VCast Video Service, which will stream prerecord clips over their EVDO network. Quality is limited to 320x240 resolution at 15fps, with images looking somewhat pixilated.  We would like to have seen the Versa come with MobileTV service, which is on the Voyager, as it can stream live TV broadcast at higher quality.

We also tested the Versa with additional videos using a wide variety of formats, resolutions, and codecs to see what else it could play. We were able to playback MP4 H.263 and H.264 videos at 30fps from our microSD card with resolutions of 220x96, 320x136, and 320x144 in both vertical and horizontal modes, but 640x272 videos would only play in vertical mode. There was also no way to get the videos to stretch and fill the entire screen, like we could with the Omnia. The quality is good enough for playing clips on the go or to watch a full movie from your memory card.


Qualcomm’s BREW format is used for all applications on the Versa; the most useful of which being VZ Navigator.  It comes installed with the new version 4.5.1 that adds voice recognition so that you can speak the locations instead of having to type it in.  We tried this with a few addresses, and it worked a majority of the time, but occasionally streets or cities with odd names would not be recognized and we were forced to type it in.  The rest of the program remains the same, with 3D maps, traffic congestion and accident re-routing, as well as the ability to find local gas stations, restaurants, movie theaters, show times, and local events.

Three game demos come preinstalled: Monopoly, Need for Speed, and Pac-Man.  The best was Need for Speed, as it utilized the device’s accelerometer so that tilting the phone from side to side mimics the turning of a steering wheel.  Additional games can be downloaded for a fee from Verizon’s Get it Now service.

Another feature is the support of Verizon’s FOTA (firmware over the air).  This will allow customers to download the latest firmware for the phone without the need to visit a store and having a technician install it.  Unfortunately, the implementation of this has been slow on Verizon’s part, as there have been several updates to the Dare, but were not offered via FOTA.  We hope that Verizon starts utilizing this more on its devices, as it would save customers time from going to a store for an update.


Even though the user interface relies on the touchscreen, we found that the software was very responsive and not as sluggish as on the Voyager.  Going through the menus and opening applications were also fast.

The signal reception of the Versa and Dare are identical, as both would show the same number of bars on the home screen, and the same signal levels in the service menu.  We typically would get 2-3 bars of 1x and EV in normal coverage areas, with it dropping down to 0 or 1 bar in fringe areas, but we were still able to place calls.  The original Versa unit we received had a defective speaker in the earpiece, and caused a lot of distortion to be heard, even at low volume levels.  Once it was replaced, the second unit had excellent call quality with no distortion, where voices sounded clear and natural. In fact, the call quality was slightly better on the Versa than the Dare (which produces a background “hiss” sound).  People that we called on a landline also said that we sounded better (closer) on the Versa, as the Dare had a “tunnel” effect, which made our voice sound further away.

The Versa comes with the same 1100mAh battery as found on the Dare and is rated for up to 4.8 hours of talk time or 18 days of standby time on a full charge.  During our testing, we were able to achieve 5 hours and 25 minutes of continuous talk time by fully charging the battery, dialing a landline, and keeping the Versa connected until the battery was depleted.  Even though the talk time is slightly higher than the rated amount, we were able to get 6 hours with the Dare. 


The Versa is a very capable device, as it offers something for everyone.  It’s a mixture of the Voyager and Dare, combining a high-resolution 3” touchscreen, modular QWERTY keyboard, and the best user interface we’ve seen on a non-smartphone from Verizon.  The call quality and signal reception were both excellent, and you can get up to 5 hours of talk time on a full charge.  The touchscreen is also very accurate, but still not as sensitive as capacitive displays.  The 2MP camera quality is somewhat of a letdown from the 3.2MP on the Dare, but still takes better images than most other 2MP phones.  Overall, we’d recommend the Versa for anyone who can’t make up their mind between the Voyager and Dare.


  • Large 3'' touch-sensitive display with 480x240 resolution
  • Updated user interface
  • Modular QWERTY keyboard
  • Excellent call quality and reception
  • HTML Browser with Flash support
  • EVDO Rev A
  • Threaded inbox
  • Music multitasking


  • No external numeric keypad when QWERTY is attached
  • Distortion when using Stereo Bluetooth
  • Lacks MobileTV

PhoneArena Rating:


User Rating:

48 Reviews

Recommended Stories

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