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Roundup: 5 Smart Phones for Summer

LG enV Touch

The successor to the LG Voyager, the enV Touch's design is almost identical to that of the previous enV models, the largest difference being the full touchscreen and a more powerful camera. LG’s design is also different from that seen on most phones in that it has shaped the phone itself to act like a multi-purpose device.

A 3" touchscreen encompasses the front of the phone, using a bright and radiant panel. Below it, like the Impression, are the talk, back, and end keys. On the right side is a 3.5 mm audio jack and a microSD slot, while the bottom has a USB-Micro jack. Because the Touch is a flip phone and flips to the left, the left side is recessed and has the volume controls, dedicated camera, and lock buttons. On the back is the 3.2 MP Schneider-Kreuznach camera with flash, and a battery that is also its own battery cover.

Like the iPhone and other capacitive touchscreen devices, the enV Touch requires a sliding motion to unlock the touchscreen (even though the Touch doesn’t have a capacitive touchscreen itself). For whatever reason, pressing the lock button twice will also unlock the phone.

Also like the Impression, a right-hand sidebar features widgets and shortcuts that can be placed directly on the main screen. The bottom of the screen has direct links to text messages, the phone dialer, main menu, contact list, and favorite contacts. Above this quick-link bar is a notification tab that activates if any calls are missed or if there are any messages waiting.

Flipping the phone open reveals what seems to be an entirely different phone. A second 3" screen is tucked between two massive speakers (by cell phone standards). On the base is a full QWERTY keyboard, with dedicated number keys, two menu keys, a D-pad, and several additional function keys. When closed, the enV Touch is a strong touchscreen device. When open, it’s an equally powerful messaging handset.

Firstly, the inside screen is remarkable, and is perhaps one of the best LCD displays we’ve ever seen on a cell phone. Besides providing excellent graphics, it has great contrast, looks pixel-perfect, and is actually stunning, even compared to the touchscreen and the Impression’s AMOLED. It’s so good, in fact, that nearly every operation on the phone feels better because of it, and low-quality streaming videos seem unworthy of such a nice screen.

The performance of the onboard GPS application is worth mentioning. During our tests, a ride from San Diego back to Los Angeles was made both more exciting and faster thanks to the VZ Navigator. Its real-time traffic updates were spot-on and its ability to select routes to avoid traffic surpassed simply taking the side streets. We managed to bypass much of the traffic by using extended on- and off-ramps, which the phone’s navigator suggested.

Like the Samsung Instinct S30, Verizon’s Navigator GPS also shows local businesses based on your current location. It gives movie listings at nearby theaters, the nearby theaters themselves, and even allows sending text messages with your location attached.

And like the N97, the enV’s screen remains open at an angle, though it’s a much steeper angle, which makes it more comfortable on which to type. It also allows the device to sit comfortably on a surface for music or video playback or just to use the speakerphone, which is remarkably loud and activates when the phone is opened.