Walk into AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, or any electronic store and you will find an increasing number of smart phones and a dwindling number of basic phones. There is, however, still a need for basic phones that are focused on making and receiving calls. Luckily there are still a few available. We decided to take a look at LG’s newest offering in this venue – the LG Accolade VX5600.
The LG Accolade comes in a small easy-on-the-environment box, shown in Figure 1.
The contents of the box are shown in Figure 2. They include the phone itself and a USB charging cable which converts to a wall charger with the addition of the plug shown in the middle of the Figure. Also included are some safety warnings and a small “Tips, Hints, and Shortcuts” brochure.
The LG Accolade VX5600 looks similar to previous phones in this LG series. It is a small, dark gray phone flip phone that measures 3.6 by 1.8 by 0.7 inches (90 x 46 x 18 mm) when closed. This Accolade is a lightweight, weighing in at only three ounces (85 grams). Even though the phone is made of plastic, the entire phone feels substantial and sturdy. The edges are nicely rounded giving it a nice feel in your hand. Even when flipped open, it feels comfortable and substantial.
Although the Accolade is focused on making and receiving calls, it offers some nice extras like voice commands, Bluetooth, speakerphone, camera, and hearing aid compatibility.
[nextpage title=”Screens & Keypads”]
The front of the Accolade is shown in Figure 3. The upper half is covered with a mirror-like plastic covering. This cover encompasses the 3.1 megapixel camera as well as the 1” color LCD, which has a 64-by-96-pixel resolution. This exterior screen shows the time and pertinent status information like signal and battery strength and the Bluetooth and location services indicators. This screen can be turned on by pressing any of the buttons on the exterior of the phone.
Figure 3: The front of the Accolade
Figure 4: The exterior LCD screen
Inside the phone is a 2-inch, 176-by-220-pixel LCD which can be seen in Figure 5. Although low in resolution, the screen is clear enough to be easily read. The wallpaper and backlight timing of each screen can be set individually and the interior screen can even have a personal banner as shown in Figure 5. Above the screen is the speaker.
The phones keypad and navigation buttons are shown in Figure 6.
Figure 6: The keypad and navigation
This Accolade has a typical numeric keypad. The keys are clearly marked in large white numbers. The numbers and buttons have a white backlighting. The backlight can be set to Always On, which is a feature we really liked.
Above the keypad, six large function keys surround a five-way control pad. The control pad with its central “OK” button is used to navigate all of the menus. The two soft keys at the top which are marked with a straight horizontal line are used to choose the selections that appear on the screen. Below that on the left is the Speakerphone Key and the Send Key. On the right are the CLR (Clear) Key and the Power/End Key. All of the keys have a good “click” response and are large enough to be easily found and pressed.
When you open the phone, pressing the OK button will bring up the Main Menu which has categories for Media Center, Messaging, Contacts, Recent Calls, and Settings & Tools. The menu can be set to Tab, List or Grid view at your discretion. We liked the Tab setting which gives you icons on the top for the menu choices and listings below that, as shown in Figure 7. In this mode you can easily use the arrow keys to scroll through the menu choices.
Figure 7: The Menu in Tab view
At the bottom of the numeric keypad, the asterisk key is clearly labeled to also be use as a shift key. The pound key also works to conveniently turn vibrate on and off. Just below the keypad you will see a small hole for the microphone.
[nextpage title=”Hardware & Functionality”]
The left side of this Accolade is shown in Figure 8. It has a 2.5 mm standard headphone jack with cover, a volume rocker, a voice command key, and a covered micro USB port. Since this phone’s memory is very limited, the headphone jack will only be useful for hands-free conversations with wired headphones rather than for listening to music.
The right side of the phone has a button for the camera, as shown in Figure 9. Unfortunately, the camera button can be inadvertently pressed when trying to open the phone. While we learned to avoid it by holding the phone closer to the bottom, we found this a definite design flaw. Near the top of the phone on this side you can also see the hole where a lanyard can be attached.
The 3.1 megapixel camera can’t compare to the cameras on some of the newer smartphones, but it can be used to catch a quick picture in an emergency or when you want to remember something. The camera has no flash. Although pictures are not spectacular, the camera does have noise reduction, night mode
, white balance, several special effects, and a self-timer. It also includes digital zoom, although this is not available in the highest resolution (1280 x 960). The camera also has some basic editing functions like cropping and rotating.
Although you can email the pictures from the phone or send them by MMS, we found no way to transfer them directly to the computer. The phone does support Bluetooth, so you could possibly send pictures to a printer or computer in that manner, but right now there are simply not enough Bluetooth-enabled printers or computers to make this method available for most. LG should give people who purchase this phone an easy way to transfer the photos to a computer.
One other thing to note is that because of the very limited storage in this phone, even though you take pictures at the highest resolution, they may be automatically converted to a lower resolution if there is not enough storage space.
[nextpage title=”Using the Accolade”]
The LG Accolade VX5600 is a CDMA 1900/800 MHz phone offered by Verizon. In our testing, call quality was excellent on both ends of the conversation. Even in noisy places the background sounds were kept to a minimum. The speakerphone quality was adequate. The Bluetooth headsets that we tried gave us good quality, as well. The Accolade is M4/T4 hearing aid compatible. You also can set the phone to read out numbers as you type the on the keypad.
The back of the phone and the lithium ion battery are shown in Figure 10. The battery is rated for up to 7.5 hours of talk time and up to 670 hours in standby mode.
Figure 10: The back of the Accolade
This Accolade has only 34MB of internal memory and doesn’t have a memory card slot, so it is very limited in its capabilities. There is no music player. Although you can use it to access the Internet, the lack of memory and small screen will drastically curb your surfing ability. You can add VZ Navigator for GPS guided driving directions but most people who buy this phone will probably not want to incur the added cost of a the Navigator or a multi-media package. This phone, however, also supports Verizon’s Family Locator service. Although this is an added monthly cost, it may be useful to some.
The phone is capable of text messaging and MMS, but if you text a lot you would be better off to get a phone with a dedicated keyboard instead of texting on the cumbersome numeric keypad.
The Accolade VX5600 does an admirable job of storing contacts. You can have up to 1000 contacts. Each one can have a name, 5 phone numbers, 2 emails, an IM screen name, a picture, a special ringtone, and a street address. You can take a picture with your phone and easily attach it to any contact. You can scroll though your contact list or perform a search. You can also set any contact up to a speed dial as there are 999 speed dial locations.
The Accolade also has a calculator, notepad, world clock, notepad, to-do list, and stop watch.
There is a slight indent that runs along the sides of the Accolade (shown in Figures 8 and 9). This indent makes gives you a place to open the phone. Unfortunately, the bottom of the phone, shown in Figure 11, has no such indent. Even after a few weeks of using the phone, we still found the phone a bit difficult to open quickly and one-handed opening was very difficult. Since the top and the bottom of the phone are similar in size and shape, it was often difficult to tell which way the phone was oriented when we grabbed it in a hurry.
The Accolade VX5600 supports voice dialing and the button on the side of the phone makes it very easy to access.
Figure 11: The bottom of the Accolade
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The LG Accolade VX5600 main specifications include:
- Dimensions: 3.56" x 1.83" x 0.72" (90 x 46 x 18 mm)
- Weight: 3 oz (85 g)
- Frequency: 1.9 GHz CDMA PCS, 800 MHz CDMA
- Data Transmission: 1xRTT Voice & Data Capable
- Hearing Aid Compatibility = M4/T4
- SAR: Head 1.27 W/kg; Body 1.13 W/kg
- Internal Display: 262K Color TFT, 220 x 176 Pixels, 1.76"
- External Display: 65K Color TFT, 64 x 96 Pixels, 1.04"
- Form Factor: Flip
- Camera: 1.3 Megapixel Camera
- Speaker Phone
- Bluetooth:Version: 2.1 + EDR
- Battery: 1,000 mAh
- Battery life: Up to 460 minutes talk time, up to 679 hours standby
- Carrier: Verizon
- More Information: https://www.lg.com
- Average Price in the US*: USD 200 with no contract, USD 160 with a one-year contract, and free with a two-year contract (USD 175 fee for early contract termination)
* Searched at verizonwireless.com on the day we published this review.
The LG Accolade VX5600 is a good basic phone. It has an excellent keypad with good backlighting. It is both easy-to-see and easy-to-use.
This phone offers good performance and excellent battery life. The feature set that focuses on the basics and provides everything you need to make and receive calls including voice dialing, speed dialing, Bluetooth, speakerphone, and a good phone book. While you can use this phone for email, Internet, and texting, other phones may be better for that functionality. This is an inexpensive phone that gives you all the fundamental features you need to make and receive calls.
- Small and comfortable in the hand
- Large lighted numeric keypad
- Good voice quality
- Excellent battery life
- Two screens
- Configurable menus
- Easy to navigate
- Good address book
- Loud ringer
- Very little internal memory
- Could be easier to open
- Poorly placed camera button
- No easy way to transfer photos
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