In case you are wondering, "D" is my husband -- Dave Liu! As you've probably noticed, I don't update this blog often but I may post more as I've linked this to my Google+ account.

Monday, August 04, 2003

LG VX4400 Mobile Phone

Note: I have been informed by sophisticated Europeans European Slashdot readers that the correct term to use is "mobile phone" or "wireless phone". Only in the US do we use the outdated term "cellphone". Most wireless networks in North America are digital &/or hybrid, while the word "cell" implies analog. Update & clarification from my knowledgable friend Scott: Cellular simply refers to the fact that the antennas provide coverage in 'cells' which is true regardless of the air interface (TDMA, CDMA, UMTS, NMT, GSM, etc.)

I think I dropped my Nokia 8260 mobile phone one too many times. It turns on for about 30 seconds before shutting itself off. The battery overheats in the process as well. I've managed to recreate the same effect with another battery so I'm pretty sure it's a phone issue. I bought the phone back in November 2001 so I don't feel too bad about buying a replacement (D tut-tuts me about buying a new phone every year).

My existing service contract was with AT&T Wireless but I was disappointed to find that the Nokia phones they carry are no longer sleek and cutting edge. Their 3G phones are clunky and cumbersome.

I asked my boss, the resident "gadget guy", for advice, and he suggested I switch to Verizon Wireless because they're supposed to have the best coverage in the country. They carry some pretty sexy wireless phones to boot. Despite all the hoopla about camera+phone designs, after doing some research (especially reading user opinions on CNET), I bought an LG VX4400.

I've used my phone for about two weeks, and it's great except for:

  • The battery life isn't as long as the Nokia, but I didn't expect it would given it has a color screen.
  • All the ring tones it comes with suck (they're all cutesy annoying tunes)
  • It doesn't come with any games
  • The standard charger only works with regular batteries, and not extended ones (which tend to be thicker/larger)
  • There is no plain color background/wallpaper, making text difficult to read

I probably sound way more negative than I feel since I really do like this phone. The blue LEDs are very cool, and I like the fact that it's a flip phone so I don't accidentally press buttons and call somebody by mistake.

Some of the other things I don't like about my phone are more related to the carrier (Verizon), as opposed to the phone design itself. For example, Get it Now sucks. I can't figure out how the pricing for works. I'm told that I'm charged "per use" for the MyTonz application. What does that mean? Am I charged per ringtone downloaded, or am I charged each time I use MyTonz (unlimited ringtone downloads)? It's also annoying that I have to access Get it Now through my phone. Verizon is just trying to trick me into using up my minutes. I like AT&T's setup a lot more where you can do everything through the Web and then have the selected application pushed to the phone. Also, be warned that Verizon charges $1.25 each time you call 411. What a ripoff! Last time I checked, AT&T charges only $0.75.

Reception on the phone is decent although I couldn't get dial out or receive calls in the San Francisco Nike store the other day even though my phone showed a strong signal.

If you would like more information about this phone, as opposed to the useless manual, check out this exceptional VZ4400 FAQ. Also visit bitpim which is a program for hacking the phone (solves many of the problems I listed above). I used to be into doing that kinda stuff, but I'm too cheap to buy the $20 USB cable.

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